Disciplining a Strong-Willed Preschooler

Five simple tips on disciplining effectively




Let’s face it. Our kids can become a real handful at times. Toddlers oftentimes get stubborn or difficult, making it very challenging to deal with them. They stay up all nap time, cry when things don’t go their way, and their favorite reply is no. Sometimes, disciplining a strong-willed toddler feels like an unmanageable task.

Whether it’s getting them to sleep for nap time or stopping them from running around, disciplining a strong-willed toddler is not impossible. Below are five easy tips to help you show your stubborn child who’s boss.

Child Stubbornness Can Become a Positive Trait

Most parents think that their child’s stubbornness is negative. However, this trait can actually be developed into something positive, such as tenacity. Help them improve that sense of independence by giving them simple tasks or through games. For example, you can let them  decide what they want when given choices, solve easy problems by themselves, build or take apart blocks or toys to understand them and create something new, little things that can challenge their strong will.

They Need Experience

Stubborn kids need experience to learn, so don’t stop them from experiencing the world. Having hands-on experiences helps nurture their curiosity and teaches them more about how things are. Unless what they’re doing is going to cause any serious pain, such as climbing tall structures or playing with things that can potentially hurt them, let the child freely experience these situations and take something from them. You may need to keep a closer eye on them, though.

Respect Their Need to Do Things by Themselves

Give your child the freedom to do things on their own. You don’t always have to prove you’re right. Although it is important that you set expectations and boundaries, never try to break their spirit and force them to follow your views. Give them space to learn and appreciate their own way of doing this. You can educate them and give input, but avoid forcing them to do things your way.

Reinforce Only the Positive

When it comes to managing behavior and strong-willed toddlers, positive reinforcement is an effective strategy. In a nutshell, this means that you only reinforce the correct behavior to strengthen it. Remember to always provide a reinforcement, either through a small treat or praises, for the right behavior. Avoid bribing children so they’ll stop behaving badly. This will only reinforce the incorrect behavior.

Serve Punishment When Punishment Is Due

Let’s say that you’ve already set your expectations and boundaries but your child still crosses them. Instead of punishing the child, you stop yourself because you feel sorry for punishing them. As a parent, you need to be more persistent when it comes to discipline. Your child will push you to the limits, but you must be firm in delivering discipline. When time-out is called for, place them on time-out.

Remember to be patient with your child no matter how stubborn they can be. Love and understanding are important when disciplining them, so take your time in teaching them the right behavior.

Have more tips on disciplining a strong-willed toddler? Leave a comment below. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads for more updates. Also, grab a copy of my book, Train Up A Child.



Aha! Parenting. 2017. “Parenting Your Strong-Willed Child.” Accessed on July 4, 2017. http://www.ahaparenting.com/parenting-tools/positive-discipline/Parenting-Strong-Willed-Child.

Meeker, Meg. “Staying Sane with Strong-Willed Kids.” Psychology Today, May 4, 2010. Accessed on July 4, 2017. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/family-matters/201005/staying-sane-strong-willed-kids.

Smiley, Kendra. 2017. “Discipline for the Strong-Willed Child.” Accessed on July 4, 2017. http://www.familylife.com/articles/topics/parenting/challenges/discipline-and-spanking/discipline-for-the-strong-willed-child.

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