My first born daughter Aeralind was the one who caused the delivery.  She kicked out her bag of waters the very day the doctor told me not to go to the hospital again unless my water broke.  All Aeralind needed was someone to tell her what to do and she happily obliged.  She didn’t make a peep upon her entry into this world and and was happy just to be adored for doing her own independent thing.  Aeralind is a people-pleaser to the core.

One minute later the doctors hauled my sweet Bronwyn out from underneath my ribs.  She was howling mad at leaving that warm spot and, I promise, had she been able she would have either clung to my ribs or climbed right back in.  Bronwyn instinctively knew one thing: there were very few things you could make her do and, unfortunately for her, birth was one of those things.  Bronwyn is the quintessential strong-willed child.

Defining the Strong-Willed Child

How do you know if your child is strong-willed?

To be frank, if you’re asking that question the odds are that your child is not a strong-willed kid.  But for those of us going through the 2s and 3s where there’s a natural boundary testing, I suppose it could be confusing so I’ll give you a definition.

A strong-willed child is one who will fight to do or get what she wants: not matter what.  He is the child that would say (if he has the speech ability), “Oh, really?  Make me.” after each simple request.  She is the child who laughs when you say “That’s impossible!” And promptly proves you wrong.

There’s a great little quiz that you can take from Cynthia Tobias book You Can’t Make Me (But I Can Be Persuaded): Strategies for Bringing Out the Best in Your Strong-Willed Child on her website.  Scroll about halfway down and rate yourself and then your children.

I’m a strong-willed person: scoring an 8 on that little quiz.  Bronwyn is hands down a 12.  Let me give you a few examples.

At 7 months, Bronwyn informed Aeralind (who is a sneaky instigator despite her people-pleasing ways) that if she really wanted a toy she had better be willing to fight for it.

While 8 month Aeralind was busy eating puffs the normal way, Bronwyn pioneered her own methods since her fine motor skills weren’t where they should be and dared anyone to say anything about her puff accessories.

Before Bronwyn could walk at 12 months, she started spending 30 minutes every single time we went outside trying to climb UP her slide.  She finally mastered it at 18 months. She never once gave up.

My husband and I say that Aeralind kicked Bronwyn out of her egg so that Aeralind would have a test dummy.  Bronwyn fears nothing.  Here are a few examples.

Climbing over the makeshift gate
Giant Slide at Monkey Joes
She walked first 🙂
Yep… she’s the one already in with soot all over her 🙂
Bronwyn’s Idea of a Perfect Activity
She thought up this use of the slide
She’s not even 2 and a quarter here…
That’s a Hissing Cockroach.  Bronwyn touches him.  Aeralind cowers.

At 20 months after 2 weeks of RSV with many nights spent in our bed cuddling so we all could get a little rest, sweet Bronwyn decided she didn’t have to sleep in her own bed.  She wailed and whined for up to 5 hours each night demanding that she be snuggled in our bed for 3 solid weeks before we figured out how to correctly discipline her.

The face of a grumpy sleep vetoing child

At 2 and a quarter, the week long toddler bed battle began.  You can read a little bit about that epic hour and twenty minute training session here.

At almost 2.5 strong-will Bronwyn woke up after a nap and demanded “big gull panties” and potty trained herself.

So maybe a strong-will isn’t completely a bad thing.
Maybe those of us parenting a strong-willed child simply need to recognize that a strong-will is a gift we need to harness for the child’s good.

We just need the patience and persistence to pursue the best ways to discipline, guide, and love our strong-willed children.  And maybe the community to say “I know you’re doing the best you can. Keep at it!” while our strong-willed kiddos flail in a tantrum on the floor of our local store.

I truly believe strong-willed Bronwyn will change the world and I bet your strong-willed child will join her.

Melissa is a strong-willed person raising almost 2.5 year old twins Aeralind and Bronwyn and baby brother Sedryn to the best of her ability.  She blogs about the glorious God-filled moments and the moments that bring her to her knees over at Bumblebee Grace. She rarely has it all together, but she knows the One who does.