8 steps to handling your strong-willed toddler

Got a pint-sized person who’s stubborn, demanding and always likes taking charge? You might be raising a strong-willed toddler…

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So yeah, it’s not easy parenting a toddler. Their defiance can be relentless and their demands, exhausting. Yet, some toddlers are a lot tougher to handle than others.

If you’re a mum of more than one kid, you’d have inevitably compared your children: Kid A didn’t use to throw such epic tantrums; or Kid B is so much harder to handle, compared to his older sis.

So, why is one child more challenging than the other? If you find that your tot is difficult and has a nothing-is-gonna-stop-me type of determination, you might have a strong-willed child on your hands.

Daniel Koh, a psychologist at Insights Mind Centre, notes that such children may have a “bad temper, impatient, are tough to reason with, angry or aggressive, are not willing to listen or give in, have temper outbursts and are controlling and sensitive.”

“Challenging as they are to raise, strong-willed children can grow up to be men and women of strong character.”

On the plus side, these same children may also be “firm, consistent, insist on finishing or learning something, never give up, constantly try to improve, and are sure of their own abilities,” Koh adds.

James Dobson, author of The New Strong-Willed Child writes that “Challenging as they are to raise, strong-willed children can grow up to be men and women of strong character ― if lovingly guided with understanding and the right kind of discipline”.

Dawn Teo, mum to Evan, 2, and Elijah, 5, is certain that her second son comes under the category of a strong-willed child.

“My first son was a horrible sleeper and picky eater, but he was always generally in a good mood. Evan, on the other hand, sleeps and eats well, but oh my, his tantrums are just insane,” Teo laughs. “If he doesn’t want to get into the shower, there’s nothing I can do. If smacks his brother, he insists he isn’t wrong. I’ve never seen such a strong personality – every day is full of drama with Evan,” she says.

She recalls an instance where Evan pinched his cousin because she used his crayons. “In his mind, she had clearly done him wrong, and he said he pinched her because of that,” says Teo. And even after explaining to him over and over again why he shouldn’t have hurt her, he just refused to apologise.

Teo made him stand in the corner and told him he wasn’t allowed to move till he said he was sorry. “He actually stood there for 45 minutes, silently, without shedding a tear. We started lunch and he still refused to move. In the end, I had to give in and told him to come have lunch.”

Does your child sound like Evan? Read on for tips on how to handle a strong-willed child.