Today is the fifth and final day of the How Do I Teach....Series! I hope you have enjoyed all the topics covered and pinned or bookmarked the ones you want to refer back to! So far my series on How Do I Teach a Strong Willed Child has included my Introduction: Defining the Strong Willed Child, the Key Ingredient of Respect, Rules and Disobedience, and Maintaining a Routine. Today we will talk about an element that is very important although often overlooked with a Strong Willed Child.....Positive Reinforcement!
We already know that disciplining a strong willed child in a negative way can be frustrating since they don't respond to it like other children. Something that is extremely useful with these kids is to make sure you are giving them positive reinforcement. Strong willed kids tend to be in trouble a lot and see a lot of the glares or annoyed looks from their caregivers. Just smiling at them more often will help your relationship tremendously. But if you really want them to take off catch them doing something right. My kids just beam with pride when I thank them for their behavior in a given situation. Just make your praise honest and meaningful. Praise them for appropriate behavior. Praise them for kindness. Praise them for the effort they put forth on a project. Praise them for their determination (that's that strong will shining through)!
Another thing you can do to change your own point of view when it comes to your strong willed child is to change the labels you use. Just like I chose to use the word determination in the previous paragraph rather then stubborn. Stubborn, difficult, dramatic all have a negative connotation and bring about negative feelings when you think them. But all negative traits are also positive in some ways. Being stubborn means they won't give up on things. While it can be taken to an extreme (and often strong willed kids will) it often leads to extreme determination when they want to do something and makes them less likely to fall to peer pressure when they have already established their opinions. Difficult is a pretty general term, but many people use it to refer to particularly sensitive individuals. Sensitivity can be bad, but sometimes it can be good. People who are more sensitive are more perceptive and more aware of their surroundings and can be more aware of others feelings. This perceptiveness can also lead them to be more creative then others. And that overly dramatic child, we all know them, they are really just very passionate about the way they feel and the things around them. Being passionate can drive them to achieve anything they want! Being passionate can also make them a lot of fun to be around when they learn to properly control their emotions!
So why not use determined or decisive instead of stubborn. Use perceptive for difficult or sensitive. And use passionate rather then dramatic. A few other labels you might want to add to your vocabulary are assertive, purposeful, spirited, tenacious, persistent, creative, driven, exciting, resourceful and ambitious. All of these are labels most people would love to have describe them, and that is just how your child was made!
Just changing the labels you use for your kids can change the way you feel about them and allow you to start building a better relationship with them! After all strong willed children are still children and desire to be loved and understood.
Obviously all the tips I have given you are general parenting/ living with a strong willed person tips, but they all translate into schooling as well. If you use them to improve your relationship it will naturally flow into your homeschool and improve how effective you are as a teacher.
I do have to say that even all these tips will take time to implement effectively, and there will always be days that feel impossible, but steady improvement is what you are looking for. Don't be discouraged if you don't see a miracle over night! And as for schooling, you have 18 years to teach them what they need to know. Repair the relationship and then work on reading!
I feel as though I have written too much and yet barely touched the surface this week! A couple good books that have really helped me in dealing with my strong willed children and in understanding myself are:
"You Can't Make Me" (but I can be persuaded) by Cynthia Tobias, another strong willed child.
And Raising Your Spirited Child by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka.
Many Blessing from our Strong Willed Family to Yours!