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How to Parent Your Spirited Child

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had well-meaning people tell me, “Oh, your son’s stubbornness will serve him well someday!” as they watch him dig his feet in and stand firm for what he desires.   Although I can see how this may be the case, in those moments I just want the tools to get through the situation and to teach and direct my son to use his self-motivation for positive leadership as he grows.  I really don’t want to raise a child who doesn’t question things or who just gives up when challenged, but the power struggles that occur often between a spirited or strong-willed child and his or her parents can be a tremendous energy drain.  So what do parents of strong-willed children do to preserve these fabulous (honest, they are!) qualities while having their children follow direction and without “breaking their will?”

In the article “Parenting Your Strong-Willed Child,”, Dr. Laura Markham elaborates on the following ten tips for positive parenting your future leader:

  1. Avoid power struggles by using routines and rules.
  2. Your strong-willed child wants mastery more than anything.
  3. Give your strong-willed child choices.
  4. Give her authority over her own body.
  5. Don’t push him into opposing you.
  6. Side step power struggles by letting your child save face.
  7. Listen to her.
  8. See it from his point of view.
  9. Discipline through the relationship, never through punishment.
  10. Offer him respect and empathy.

Dr. Markham’s article is an excellent read, and gives a lot of pertinent information for parents with strong-willed children.  The Kidtelligent assessment is another great resource that can help with positive parenting solutions for your spirited child!  Using the Kidtelligent assessment, you can get insight into your child’s unique personality type and receive suggestions based on his or her type.  To learn more about Kidtelligent, go to, or follow us on Facebook at

Sarah is a guest mom writer for Kidtelligent. If you are interested in submitting an article to be shared on the Kidtelligent Blog and Facebook please email us at