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Parenting Tools: Understanding and Coping with the Strong-Willed Child


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Dat Pham

Dr. Lydia Currie

August 27, 2008

English 102      


            As I held my newborn daughter in my arms for the first time in the delivery room, I noticed something unusual about her cry.  She seemed to be irascible and implacable.  A thought chilled me as I relived the memory of my late mother whose uncontrollable ire wrought havoc on her social and family life, and my daughter seemed to have her temperament!  As the months passed, my presumption was correct.  Her needs were always absolutely intense and quickly became wraths if these needs were not met.  I was frequently unable to cope with her demands and temper tantrums.  Determined to change my daughter’s fate, I immediately sought help online and in books and was swiftly overwhelmed by the vast amount of parenting information existed out there.  The only way to decode all of this information was to select advices from some leading child development experts and carefully examine them.


As long as strong-willed children’s misbehaviors baffle and frustrate parents, numerous child development experts will continue to offer practical solutions for these parents.  Minnell Tralle, an Extension family relations educator at the University of Minnesota, indicates that parents may find it challenging to rear children who consistently push the limits and are disobedient, intense, persistent, and energetic.  These parents may find it difficult to handle and resolve these behavioral problems.  Furthermore, according to Tralle, the children of these parents may have low self-esteem and encounter impediments in building relationships with parents, friends, and teachers.  Moreover, she asserts that noncompliant children discover that it is more laborious to follow orders than other compliant children.   She also states that it takes only one noncompliant child to disturb the delicate balance of the entire family.  The stresses stemmed from constantly facing challenging behaviors will affect the relationship of the parents to the child and the relationship of the child to the other children (Tralle 2007).  Drew Edwards (2005), adjunct professor of psychology at Wake Forest University, agrees with Tralle on this problem related to the strong-willed child with other children.  He asserts that the strong-willed child is often a bully and impulsive.  He also elaborates that “kids who bully tend to be those who are bullied by parents or others” (qtd. in Walker 2005).


However the most damaging effects caused by the noncompliant child are on the parents themselves.   These parents often experience disagreements over parenting methods, increased stress levels, disruption of religious faith or practice, poor communication, reduction of sexual and nonsexual intimacy, restricted social activity, increased levels of resentment, and increased frequencies of repining behaviors (Meyers 2006).  As a result, members in such families need to endlessly adjust and readjust to the problems created by the noncompliant child (Tralle 2007). 



















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