Raising Strong Willed Children.

February 28, 2018

Just a note on parenthood as we know it in hopes it can meet some of you where you are at….

Azelie turns 18 months this week, and our sweet quiet baby has suddenly turned seventeen. She already has shoe preferences, does not like to be told no, and will take a swat at you if you dare get her off the kitchen table.

While this would have shocked and horrified me with my first child, I am now….what’s the word….expectant of this behavior, and have come to accept that every one of my children was born with either my strong will or Gabe’s stubbornness. I know that their need to explore boundaries and the power of their free will takes over until oh, about 3 and a half to 4 and a half yrs old. The battles don’t end there, but they certainly wane and become at least a little more logical. So if you are in the middle of the daily tantrums, and public battles, please know you are amongst many other mothers fighting the same fight. Your child most likely doesn’t have something wrong with them, and is not possessed. (I say this with sarcasm, but believe me the thoughts have passed my mind.) No, they have the gift of a strong will. Speaking as someone with a strong will, it will be in their favor one day because it will give them a strong ground to stand on, and a will of iron to stand up for what they believe in if I can persevere in steering their energy the right way.



I salute my mother. Her stories of her daily commitment to guide my strong will, and her care not to break my spirit are admirable. I was straight up defiant, and didn’t go through one day without a battle of the wills between her and I between the age of 2 and 4. She was consistent in both discipline and affirmation, and as a result she said I ended up being an “easy” teenager. (Is that possible?!) This especially encourages me in a time where I feel like I am the circus ring master among three strong willed toddlers all at once. (Our wonderful Max even had a call home from school today.)

I grew up to be someone who believed I could take risks, create, voice the things that mattered to me, stand up and fight for the underdog, go against the grain, and not be afraid to do things that were different or unpopular. I understood who I was in God’s eyes, and I owe that to the love and dedication of my mom and dad. I get to enjoy a very good friendship with both of them now, and I hope the same with my own children one day. I lose my cool all the time with my kids, and fail just about every day in being patient, but I am learning how much more they thrive when I give them the grace of being children.

Gabe and I give our kids expectations and boundaries, because I have seen how my children crave them. However, I also know that giving them space to make mistakes, be messy, ask questions, and explore their interests also go hand in hand with raising them to be confident in their own abilities. When I show them more scorn than affirmation in a day, I notice they tend to act out even more. They need quality time and affection just as much as we are directing and correcting. I thought I would share a few resources that have helped me in raising these wild spirits, and I would also like to hear what has helped you.

Love and Logic – This has helped me so much with the 3yr olds and up! Find it on audible as an audio book too.
Raising Burning Hearts – Reccommended to me by my friend Jodi Mockabee. (Christian based.)
No Drama Discipline – On my radar to read next.
The temperament God gave your children. – I read this. So helpful to understand our children’s temperaments in order to love them the way they need.

5th time around has been a little easier in some ways but harder in others. It’s easy to get lazy with consistency, and I often would rather just give in than battle it out. But I want to see those strong spirits find happiness and fulfillment as they grow, and I know that takes dedication on my part.

Strong willed spirits have the ability to change the world for the better if we can just hang on to their wild manes long enough to guide them in the right direction.

I would love to hear what has helped you direct the energy of a strong willed child to the good. We are in this together.

x, Anna


Leave a Comment

  • We are totally in the thick of this with our daughter right now and it is an adventure. We just keep reminding us that the world needs more women with strong opinions, so she’s right on track to do great things ­čśë

  • Such a beautiful post, complete with great recommendations! Cheers! ?

  • Great book recommendations! I also loved Making the Terrible Twos Terrific, by John Rosemond. I re-read it with every child! My most strong willed child was the one I thought would be the parenting death of me. So I’ll be the parent on the other side who gives you encouragement and hope. He’s 19 now and in college. He has turned into the most wonderful young man – and I don’t say that in a bragging sense (although maybe a little). He is kind hearted and charismatic. People are drawn to him and he’s a natural leader. He has the most formed conscience of any of my kids, and a faith that is so true in his heart. He is not swayed by peer pressure in the slightest and just does his own thing. He was SO worth the struggle in the early years to get him pointed in the right direction, and I couldn’t be more proud of him now.

  • Loving Our Kids on Purpose is my very favorite parenting book!

  • Colleen Harlan

    2 things have helped me so much: sometimes the challenges in our little ones are actually the things I am still trying to control in myself. STOP ASKING FOR MORE CANDY…shoot, I just snuck a chocolate in the bathroom, sort of thing. My mom said she got to watch herself grow up all over again as she raised my youngest sister. So sometimes I have to say…this is ME growing up in front of me. Give ME some grace. And the second is a combination of: we are the experts on our own children and we are allowed to ask for lots and lots and lots of help: books, counselors, therapists, other parents we really respect, but also trust our gut! One of my kiddos has sensory perception disorder, and I needed help to translate into our family life the needs of her brain. That poem “I am your quiet place, you are my wild…”? That’s HER. I knew very deeply that we needed some outside help, but us parents had the final say.

  • This was so helpful and encouraging. I am trying to work through this same behavior with my 4 year old son and appreciated hearing your experiences. I look forward to checking out your suggested reading materials! Thanks!!!

  • The first photo is just the most heartwarming ever <3 What a family! Xoxo, K&E

  • Thanks for sharing! I’m in the midst of parenting my first strong-willed child (thanks to BOTH parents of similar temperaments!) and he’s just a little younger than Azelke. Would any of those be your first read for the younger toddler (he’s 16 months)? We’re into the hitting and yelling when told no as well. But he’s also the most affectionate little guy. Thanks for any recommendations !

  • Hi Anna! I can relate to your relationship with your mom. My mom was also the type of mother that encouraged me to dream big and fear nothing. She had me believe that I can achieve anything. And I think that this is one of the most important things you can teach your kids. Beautiful post, thanks for sharing!

Copyright © 2024 In Honor Of Design powered by chlo├ędigital