We all want our kids to listen to us and do as we say, but sometimes they’re simply headstrong and defiant. Some kids are more like this than others, and that might not be an entirely bad thing.
Photo by hoyasmeg.
Lauren Knight describes on The Washington Post what it’s like raising a strong-willed child. Her son Oliver is vocal when he disagrees with anything and is “the most headstrong, stubborn person [she has] ever come across.”
I chuckle at her example of Oliver’s flat-out refusal to ever cut his hair, because my daughter is the same way: She will never allow me to braid her hair, cut it short, or do anything to it. She is obstinate and confrontational where I am non-confrontational.
As exhausting as it can be to raise a strong-willed child who sometimes won’t obey you, there are benefits (to the kid at least) of this personality trait:
Though there are plenty of times when parenting a strong-willed, sometimes disobedient child is a difficult, exhausting endeavour, it turns out there are plenty of benefits to a little bit of naughtiness or disobedience. Research shows that disobedient children earn more as adults and are also more likely to be entrepreneurs. As it turns out, some rather intelligent children who defy authority or challenge the status quo tend to think more outside the box, lending them a certain creative upper hand when it comes to new ideas and starting businesses. Entrepreneurs tend not to play by the rules.
Laura Markham, a clinical psychologist at Columbia University, explains that strong-willed children (those who are described as spirited, headstrong, rambunctious, and even courageous) are usually self-motivated and inner-directed, and often grow into leaders as adults. They are more impervious to peer pressure and go after what they want with more gusto. They want to “learn things for themselves rather than accepting what others say, so they test the limits over and over,” and this relates to relationships as well. Such discernment involves not only when they cut their hair, eat vegetables, or choose to wear a coat, but also in whom they decide to trust and in whom they choose to follow or who they allow themselves to be influenced by.
I believe — and hope — that this means strong-willed children are also less susceptible to peer pressure and more likely to stand up for themselves and others. So, parents, maybe sometimes we have to put up with this headstrong behaviour and try not to stamp out that spirit. Encourage obedience out of trust and let them do what they want with their hair.
Why it’s good to have a strong-willed child, and why you should let up on them [The Washington Post]