28 minutes | Aug 6, 2018

Episode 075: Your Strong-Willed Child’s Personality, What Therapists Want You To Understand

Listen here or READ the post below. We are in August if you can believe it. The topic for this month is the strong willed child's temperament, their natural personality that they're born with.  We want to help you understand it better, have some compassion for where they're coming from, get to know some specific characteristics in their temperament that can be challenging and some parenting tips on how to navigate those specific characteristics. Marriage and family therapist, Jeff Tesch is going to help us understand our strong-willed child’s personality a little better today. Jeff Tesch LMFT, MS Common Characteristics of the Strong-willed Child’s Personality Most parents are WELL aware of their strong-willed child’s characteristics, but I think it’s worth mentioning again briefly. Strong-willed kids are usually: Less flexible Defiant Oppositional Emotionally reactive Want what they want, when they want it Want to be in charge Resistant to the desires of others Don’t like being told “No” Harder to discipline Slower to respond to efforts to improve their behavior But also: Not push-overs Goal-oriented High-achievers Speak their mind Great leaders Good negotiators Your Child Didn’t CHOOSE to Be Strong-Willed Some elements of personality are present from birth.  Each of us have characteristics that we were born with that we may or may not like.  The same is true of our strong-willed kids.  Many of them have been strong-willed since they were babies. In fact, therapists will often ask parents who seek help, what their child was like as a baby.  We do that because we can quickly start to learn if the child has always been strong-willed or if they’ve just learned that behavior over time. If they were a very calm, quiet baby and are out of control behavior now, a therapist is more likely to conclude that the behavior is learned.  But if the parents say their child was tough from the get-go, we know we’re dealing more with a tough personality. It’s also important to know that personality is pretty consistent through the lifespan. The personality characteristics that you see in your child are probably going to be part of their personality throughout their whole life.  Don’t get discouraged though, because even strong-willed kids can learn to function incredibly well with consistent teaching. It's also important to know that your strong-willed child isn't being strong-willed to make your life miserable.  I know that parents can feel like their strong-willed child’s behavior is intentional.  I know because I have been there.  I have a couple of strong-willed kids of my own that are very challenging.  However, I think it’s important to remember that their behavior is generally not thought through.  Rather, it is truly just their brain functioning, their personality.  Remembering that helps me feel more patient and loving even during challenging times. Being Strong-Willed Is Not Only Tough on Parents, It Can Also Be Tough on Strong-willed Kids I’ve seen so many kids in my office that struggle themselves with being strong-willed.  They can’t understand why it’s easy for others to comply, but not for them. They can’t understand why others easily make friends, get along with teachers, feel liked by their parents, but they don't. Through the stress of all this, they can start to think the THEY are a problem, that THEY are not good.  I’ve seen strong-willed kids struggle with depression because of the shame they feel from being different than others around them.  Once a child starts to feel this way, they usually start to behave even worse! Strong-willed kids can struggle not only at home, but in other settings as well.  They may find a classroom setting to be challenging, social setting, etc.  People in all those settings can decide that your strong-willed child is bad and start to treat them that way. As parents,
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