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Helping A Strong Willed Child

Updated: Aug 24, 2023

My baby girl, Gia, just turned 7 months, and seemingly overnight she started crawling. But not only that, it feels like she became so strong and independent in the span of a day. My wife and I are just marveling at who she is becoming. We have loved every minute being with her, but we are also looking forward to this new stage.

Something changed with Gia recently though, she has recently become extremely clingy. If we set her down she cries. If we walk away from her she cries. If both mom and dad aren’t nearby, she cries for that too.

At first we didn’t give it a second thought since she is also teething, we assumed she was uncomfortable and thus looking for extra comfort. However, when the teeth came in she was not less, but more clingy.

“How are we going to get anything done,” we asked.

When sharing this new development with her mom, my wife gained some valuable insight from a mother of 8. “She’s testing you,” she told us, “She is looking to see that you are going to do what she wants.”

As my wife told me this we both sat on the floor next to Gia. I looked at her and she looked at me, and I could suddenly see very clearly that she knew exactly what she was doing. “That sneaky little girl!” I joked to my wife.

This made me think of the many different students I’ve interacted with over the years. One thing is for certain, that children do not always say what they mean or act in accordance with reason. Kids learn to work the “system” from a very early age and can become quite adept at it.

In the context of homeschooling, it is quite possible that you are experiencing some challenges with your kids that are dumbfounding you as well. I’ve seen students fake reading who actually memorized whole books, and other feign sickness that were only trying to avoid their least favorite subject.

For you too, you may find that your kids are acting out in ways that are difficult to understand. Here is one very possible scenario: they have figured out the homeschooling routine, they know what they like and what they don’t like, and they are attempting to manipulate you as the parent to distract you from some other issue that is actually on their mind.

The trap would be to focus on the superficial problem without ever getting to the source of where it is coming from. Instead, parents should, with patient endurance, help their troubled child learn to overcome whatever hurdle they are avoiding by giving them the constancy of firm expectations.

This was in a sense the advice my mother-in-law gave us with Gia. When we set her down or when we walk away and she starts to cry, she said, “Check her diaper, feed her if she’s hungry, and then let her cry.”

It was hard to hear, but in reality it is what we want for our girl. We want her to learn that we are with her even when we aren’t holding her, and to slowly gain independence as she approaches new things in life.

So the advice proves just as true with babies as it does with children of all ages: if they are fussing, crying, and complaining, maintain firm expectations even when it is hard. Maintain the peace and confidence that they can be successful, and don’t allow any act of manipulation to be more than a stage that they overcome.

If you are struggling with a strong willed child and need both support and encouragement to address their behaviors calmly and effectively, then book a free call and find out how the Homeschool Mastery Group can help with parenting advice tested and proven through years of direct work with thousands of the toughest youth.

Bio of Blake Willard the Founder and Lead consultant at Homeschool Mastery Group
Founder Bio

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