If you have a strong-willed child, you know that discipline can be tough. Traditional techniques of rewarding desired behaviors, of prompting fear by threatening, by imposing punishments, and by “telling” simply don’t work on a strong-willed child, because these approaches all aim at obedience. When the focus is on obedience, the result is often reluctance, resistance, resentment, and even rebellion.
These approaches set up stress for both adult and youth. As young people grow, the more we try to force obedience the more they resist. However, when the focus is on promoting responsibility in a noncoercive (but not permissive) approach, obedience follows as a natural by-product. That’s why the Discipline Without Stress methodology is so effective with a strong-willed child.
Remember that we adults are constantly teaching and influencing. As a matter of fact, we cannot help but influence young people. We are often unaware of our constant role-modeling. This is especially the case when we react to what young people do that does not please us.
Reacting to irresponsible behavior by using coercive approaches is a primary cause of stress in adult-youth relationships—whether we are telling them to do something, threatening, punishing, or attempting to manipulate their behavior with rewards.
In contrast, when you aim at instilling a sense of responsibility, you will find young people developing self-discipline, developing respect for self and others, and becoming more mature in their behaviors. Additionally, you will quickly see how stress and adversarial relationships are significantly reduced, and life with your strong willed child will be much more enjoyable.
Empower Your Strong-Willed Child
My experiences of working with young people of all ages and in various situations and circumstances taught me that young people (even the strong-willed child) really want to be responsible, but coercive approaches no longer work with today’s youth.
When I sign my books for people, I use the following inscription: “The key is to project high expectations and then empower, rather than overpower.”
Unfortunately, too many adults have the belief that if young people are empowered, adults lose control. In reality, the more you empower others, the more influence you have with them and the more you effective you become.
My new book, Live Without Stress: How to Enjoy the Journey, is now available as a Kindle book. This book will show how to use some simple strategies to significantly reduce your stress, promote responsibility, increase your effectiveness, improve your relationships, and truly enjoy life’s experiences.