You have most likely heard the term “terrible twos” when referring to toddlers. This description is fitting for all toddlers, but it is especially true if you have a strong-willed toddler. Having a strong-willed toddler isn’t a bad thing since you know that you’re raising a child who won’t be afraid to lead the way, but it can be a challenge. If you have a strong-willed toddler, these tips can help you handle discipline and structure without taking away your child’s independence.
Give Them a Choice
If you have a strong-willed toddler, then you know that the words, “Do this…” can result in a temper tantrum that can last for the entire morning. This is due to the fact that strong-willed children don’t appreciate being bossed around. They know what they want and aren’t afraid to let you know how they feel about it. To help your strong-willed toddler feel more involved in decision-making, give them two options they can choose from. For example, if you want your toddler to clean up some toys, you can say, “It’s time to clean up. Do you want to start cleaning in the living room or do you want to start in your bedroom?” This allows your strong-willed toddler to feel in control, all with the end result that you want.
Follow a Schedule
Consistency is key when it comes to handling a strong-willed toddler. That’s why it’s so important to follow a schedule. Set up a daily routine that includes meal times, naptime, playtime, and even clean-up time. Be sure to follow this routine each day, giving your toddler a heads up when something in the schedule is going to be changed. You should also give your toddler time warnings when it’s almost time to switch to the next thing. For example, if playtime is almost done and clean-up time is about to start, tell your toddler, “You have 5 more minutes to play and then we’re going to clean up.” This way, your toddler isn’t surprised when it’s time to switch, effectively reducing any fits they might have.
Have Set Consequences
If your strong-willed toddler refuses to do something, it’s important to have set consequences in place. Let your child know that if they don’t listen, they will have a 5 minute time-out or will lose a toy for a day. By having the consequence already in place, your toddler will know what to expect if they don’t listen or follow directions. They might still decide not to follow directions, but they won’t be surprised by the consequence, especially if you use the same consequence each time. Eventually, your toddler will follow your directions more often so that they can avoid the consequence.
Let Them Express Themselves
Oftentimes your strong-willed toddler will throw a fit if they feel as if they aren’t being heard or understood. If you see that your toddler is about to have a meltdown, sit down with them and give them the opportunity to express how they’re feeling and what they’re thinking. By giving your toddler a listening ear, you’re allowing them to express themselves in a constructive manner. This can help eliminate their frustration!
These tips are great for handling your strong-willed toddler without breaking their independence. What are some tips you have for handling strong-willed children?
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Elizabeth Lampman is a coffee-fuelled Mom of 2 girls and lives in Hamilton, Ontario. She enjoys travelling, developing easy recipes, crafting, taking on diy projects, travelling and saving money!