A strong-willed preteen may be the one nagging you incessantly to buy a coveted item or to let her participate in a desired activity. Many strong-willed kids display stubborn behavior to get their way. Although it often is a challenge, your preteen's strong-willed personality can be a positive attribute because your youngster likely has an intense drive to succeed and she may be less likely to succumb to negative peer pressure. When it's necessary to discipline your strong-willed 11-year-old, do so with a combination of ongoing firmness tempered with patience and love
Strong-willed kids have an intense desire to be in charge of themselves, states psychologist Laura Markham with the Aha! Parenting website. Although it will be necessary to insist that your child abide by rules, you can sometimes approach limits creatively with your youngster by offering understanding and choices. Empathy about rules can be effective with strong-willed kids because it helps them feel understood -- "I can hear how important it is to go to Bethany's house, but you have to finish your homework first." Alternatively, give your preteen choices whenever possible. For example, asking her "Would you rather practice your flute first today or work on your homework?" gives your preteen a semblance of control.
Set Clear Limits
Appropriate discipline teaches limits and encourages children to behave within those limits, according to the Ask Dr. Sears website. Using this foundation, set clear and concise expectations and consequences to teach your strong-willed child behavior limits. Firm household rules with attached consequences for breaking each rule can help your strong-willed child succeed as your youngster will be aware of the ground rules, according to the University of Alabama Parenting Assistance Line.
Follow Through Consistently
Stay consistent in parenting or a strong-willed preteen could surmise that you don't mean what you say. Always enforce house rules, and every time your child breaks a rule, follow through with the promised consequence. This will enable him to know exactly what you expect and what will happen if he chooses to disobey. Your strong-willed 11-year-old can choose his path and make decisions about his actions knowing exactly what will happen if he chooses to follow rules or break them.
Watch your Responses
Keep discipline positive with your preteen and resist any urge to assign blame for strong-willed behavior. It can be easy to slip into patterns of negative discipline, always focusing on undesired behaviors while not giving enough attention to the actions you desire. Minimize the energy you to devote to negative correction, advises the University of Alabama Parenting Assistance Line. Instead of a lecture, use only a word or two to redirect your 11-year-old to an activity or behavior you want. When you do see desired behaviors, notice them and praise your youngster. The positive focus on desired behavior can motivate more of the same actions. Redirection to positive activities, verbal explanations and time-outs are effective discipline for kids up to 12 years of age, according to the Dr. Phil website.
Generally, kids want to cooperate and obey parents, according to Markham. Encourage this cooperation by maintaining a strong connection with your youngster. Talk with her every day about activities and listen if she wants to explore thoughts and feelings. Empathize with feelings as your strong-willed child expresses them because when your child feels understood, she should be better able to regulate his emotions. Instead of punishing harshly, guide gently to help your youngster solve problems and make positive choices in behavior and actions.
- Psychology Today: Parenting a Strong-Willed Child
- Aha! Parenting: Parenting Your Strong-Willed Child
- Ask Dr. Sears: What is Discipline?
- University of Alabama Parenting Assistance Line: Managing the Strong-Willed Child
- Dr. Phil: Age-Appropriate Discipline Techniques
- Aha! Parenting: Beyond Discipline for Preteens
- Photo Credit Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/Getty Images
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