12 Lessons About Raising A Strong Willed Toddler You Need To Learn

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Inside: Raising a strong willed toddler doesn’t have to have you pulling your hair out in frustration. If you’re blessed with a strong-willed toddler, here are 12 lessons you need to learn that will help both of you with the ups and downs of raising a strong-willed child!

Little man is just shy of 20 months, and let me tell you…I am pretty sure he is the most strong willed toddler out of all my children.

There are days when he digs in and doesn’t give an inch.

If you have an incredibly strong willed toddler, I’m here to tell you that you’re one of the lucky ones! Strong willed toddlers might test you when they’re young, but they make for amazing teenagers and adults after some considerate parenting.

Some people might call strong willed toddlers ‘challenging’ or ‘stubborn,’ but I like to call them a blessing! So long as you ignore any advice that tells you you need to ‘break’ a strong-willed toddler, they’ll grow up to be determined, motivated, and immune to societal pressures.

If you’re blessed with a strong willed toddler, here are 12 lessons you need to learn that will help both of you with the ups and downs of raising a strong willed child!

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The Many Challenges Of Raising A Strong Willed Toddler

There are many things about raising a strong willed toddler that are challenging now but will become useful character traits in the future. Strong willed toddlers are determined, passionate, have a strong sense of conviction for what they believe in, and struggle to accept leadership.

These are all challenges when you’re trying to raise a strong willed toddler, but there are reasons why you shouldn’t try and change those characteristics.

The Bonus of Raising A Strong Willed Toddler

a very determined strong willed toddler climbing the stairs alone

There are bonuses to raising a strong willed toddler if you let them be strong willed.

I know you are reading this thinking about what could possibly be considered a bonus of a stubborn toddler. But I promise if you bear with me and keep reading, you will get where I am coming from.

It might be a challenge right now, but strong willed kids turn into incredible young adults! Especially, with a little parental nurturing.

1. Determination

Strong-willed toddlers are full of determination, and this will help your child in achieving their goals. They could do anything they set their minds to.

2. Passion

Strong-willed children are often creative and full of passion. This passion will help them be more engaged and committed to the choices they make.

3. Conviction

Strong-willed children have a strong sense of fairness and ethics and will stand firm for what they believe is right.

4. Leadership

Taking charge comes easily to strong-willed children. They’re capable of leading a team but not so good at accepting leadership from others, so they’re most likely to become entrepreneurs.

5. Perseverance

A strong-willed child might ask you time and time again for the same thing even when you’ve made it clear that the answer is “No”… And that’s because they don’t want to give up!

This skill will help them overcome significant challenges in their lives.

Related: 10 Life Skills You Need to Teach Your Kids Before They Leave Home

Strategies for Discipling and Raising a Strong Willed Toddler

toddler helping mom rinse vegetables in sink

6. Strong willed toddlers are experiential learners

Strong-willed toddlers like to figure things out for themselves. Wherever possible, it’s better to let them learn through experience, rather than trying to control them.

Expect your strong-willed child to repeatedly push you to your limits as that’s how they’re going to learn. Once you accept this, it should be easier to step back and let them explore the world for themselves.

7. Your strong willed child wants to be in charge

Whenever possible, let your strong-willed toddler take charge of their own activities. Instead of nagging them to do something, use questions to get them to figure things out for themselves.

For example, “What do you need to do before we go to school?”. If they don’t know the answer, recite what needs to be done and praise them for the things they’ve remembered to do, then ask, “What do we still need to do before we leave?”.

Strong-willed toddlers who feel more independent will oppose you less.

8. Give your strong willed toddler choices

Giving orders to strong-willed children doesn’t always go down well. Instead of telling them what to do, offer them choices that you’re happy with. This will make your strong-willed toddler feel in control and, therefore, less likely to be confrontational.

9. Give them authority over their own body

It’s a blistering cold day, and your strong willed child doesn’t want to wear their coat… We’ve all been there! Rather than forcing them to wear their jacket, you could say something like, “It’s cold outside so I’ll be wearing my coat. What if we put your coat in the backpack just in case you change your mind?”

We both know they’ll want their coat when they go outside into the cold, but it can be hard for a toddler to understand that although their body might not feel cold while they’re indoors, things will soon change.

By taking this approach, you avoid undermining their self-confidence and teach them that it’s okay for them to change their minds.

pouting toddler

10. Avoid power struggles with a strong willed toddler

By using routines and rules, you avoid being the bad person bossing them around. Set rules and routines early on and make sure you stick to them.

If a strong-willed child sees that the rules can be bent, you’re in for a bumpy ride!

11. Listen to your strong willed child

Your strong-willed child is strong-willed for a reason. They have an opinion that’s making them stick to their guns, or they’re trying to protect something they value.

You’ll only be able to understand why they’re opposing you by listening to what they have to say. When your strong-willed toddler is acting defiantly, respond with by being non-judgmental and curious.

They might have a reason for not wanting to take a bath, and you’ll only find out by asking rather than forcing.

12. Don’t discipline a strong willed child through punishment

Meet a strong-willed child with support rather than force. No amount of force in the world will get a genuinely strong-willed child to comply. It will only increase their resistance because their integrity won’t let them back down.

If you give your strong-willed child support and have a good connection with them, they will usually agree to do what you want, rather than what they want. Children can cooperate when there’s something they want more than getting their way, and they want to have a connection with you.

an angry faced strong willed toddler crossing her arms

Raising A Strong Willed Toddler

Raising a strong willed toddler is only challenging if you try to turn them into something they’re not. You don’t have to let them walk all over you. But you don’t need to try and break them either.

Accept and embrace their strong-willed nature, knowing that it will prepare them to be a wonderful young adult.

Don’t try to fight them but be firm with your rules. Communicate and set clear boundaries. Let them take ownership and responsibility wherever possible but always be there to help, support, and listen when they ask for it.

Related: The Ultimate List Of The Best Toddler Toys, Endorsed by Toddlers And Parents
Fun Board Games For 2-year-olds You Need To Play

Your Turn

Are you raising a strong willed toddler? I would love to hear from you in the comments below what strategies you use for raising your strong willed toddler.

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  1. Fantastic lessons for raising a strong-willed toddler. Another lesson is to acknowledge your strong-willed toddlers feelings, even when you disagree, to ensure they know they have been heard.

    1. Great tip, Clara! It is so important that we validate our toddler’s feelings without ego or judgment. Validating their feelings helps build their self-esteem and reduces defiant behavior. Which is a win-win!

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