Inside: Life with a strong-willed child can be exhausting. With constant power struggles and battles of the will, it’s tempting to just throw in the towel. But parenting a strong-willed child doesn’t have to be isolating or overwhelming. Here’s the secret. Your child is a diamond in the rough. Try these simple parenting phrases and watch as your relationship with your child is transformed!

Life with a strong-willed child can be exhausting. With constant power struggles and battles of the will, it's tempting to just throw in the towel. But parenting a strong-willed child doesn't have to be isolating or overwhelming. Your child is a diamond in the rough. Try these simple parenting phrases and watch as your relationship with your child is transformed!

I knew it by the time he was two weeks old. Surely God doesn’t lie when he says he knits us together in our mother’s womb!

From the first swift kick to my ribs in my second trimester.

From his incredible ability to fight naps as a baby.

From the intensity with which he insisted on everything as a toddler and preschooler.

I knew I had a strong willed child on my hands.

Why Your Strong Willed Child is a Diamond

A diamond is formed deep under the earth’s surface. It is pushed to toward the surface by volatile volcanic eruptions. Sound familiar? Yes my strong willed child can certainly seem volatile at times.

Your child is a diamond in the rough, mama. 

It’s hard to describe the definition of a strong willed child… Headstrong, stubborn, persistent.

But if you’ve got one… you just know.

Hold on, it’s not all bad news. Strong willed children also demonstrate perseverance, loyalty, and courage of character. They are leaders to the core.

My child has a clear sense of justice, uses his headstrong nature to care for others, and is persistently passionate about following his dreams. That’s the flip side of strong willed children that often gets overlooked. Don’t forget it!

Just like your strong willed child, diamonds are the hardest substance on earth, but they’re also the most precious!

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So how can we bring out those jewels? How can we chip past all the battles and arguments to help our strong willed children transform into the diamonds we know they are?

Five Phrases to Transform the Way You Parent Your Strong Willed Child

As you parent your strong willed child it’s frustrating at times to read parenting books. All the big picture information in the world sometimes can’t help you in the heat of a tough parenting moment.

Sometimes the help we need is for someone to offer practical, boots-on-the-ground advice. We need someone to answer, “What exactly can I say in this situation?”

That’s why I love parenting phrases so much. When I have a toolbox full of these wisdom-packed phrases I can instantly reach in and bring out the tool that will be the most useful.

So today I’m sharing five helpful parenting phrases that I actually use in real life with my strong willed child. I’ve found that these simple phrases have transformed the way I communicate with my child, and in turn his behavior is transforming as well!

As you apply these phrases in your parenting, I’m confident that you’ll see transformation too!

Phrase #1: Help me understand.

Can I let you in on a secret? My strong willed child gets it honestly. He inherited his strong will from both his father and me. We are a family of willful, headstrong people!

As a strong willed person myself, sometimes my first instinct in a brewing battle of the wills is to try to out-will my child. I’ll jump right into the “because I said so” mode without stopping to consider the whole situation.

Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty and I mean plenty of circumstances when I expect my kids to do as I say simply because I have authority in their lives. God made me their boss, and as a benevolent boss I always have their best interests in mind.

But sometimes… I need to connect with my child’s heart.

When I press pause on my strong willed reaction for a second I can see that sometimes my child just wants to be understood.

Maybe he’s feeling overwhelmed by a long day at school. Maybe he has a simple request but just needs me to slow down long enough to actually listen. Maybe he needs me to teach him the appropriate response instead of assuming he already knows.

So sometimes I take a breath, and get down on my child’s eye level. I take his hands in mine and say, “Help me understand.”

If I can reasonably say yes, I say yes! If I have to say no, my child is expected to be OK with that answer, too. The important thing is that my strong willed child feels valued and understood. It takes the wind right out of a power struggle almost every time!

Phrase #2: I love you too much to let you behave that way.

Discipline is a four letter word these days. Some say it’s infringement on the personal rights of a child. Some say discipline stifles a child’s natural personality.

But in reality, discipline really is a four letter word. LOVE.

When we discipline our strong willed children, we demonstrate two essential messages:

  • One. We don’t love the behavior.
  • Two. We love them and deeply care about WHO they are becoming.

In fact, it’s because of this deep love for them that we correct and instruct. We’re constantly in the business of steering them back on the road because we don’t want them to veer off into the ditch.

We see the promises they can’t see down the road.

That’s why when I do have to discipline my strong willed child I tell him, “I love you too much to let you act that way.”

Strong willed kids they need to know that there are rules. And that rules are built from love.

Fair rules, boundaries, and consequences are like love letters to our children.

As our strong willed children begin to take this truth to heart, they will gradually transform from kids who revolt at discipline, to kids who accept loving discipline. Because they recognize the heart behind it.

Phrase #3: Mommies have rules, too.

This phrase is one of my favorites. You see, my strong willed child can argue like a lawyer. When he’s disciplined it can turn into an endless circle of reasoning why he does not, in fact, deserve said discipline.

He’s got a career as a lawyer nailed down if he wants it!

The thing is that our children need to know that we don’t discipline just for the fun of it. Disciplining my children usually hurts my heart worse than theirs!

No, I discipline my kids because I have to follow the rules, too.

Where do my rules come from? Straight from my Heavenly Father!

God says that I must correct my children and bring them up to know wisdom and truth. His rules are like love letters to a parent’s heart, too! If I follow his rules for parenting, I’m promised that my children will “rise and call me blessed.” What mama doesn’t want that?

So when my little lawyer tries to talk his way out of a timeout or tell me the rules aren’t fair, I calmly say this. “Listen, mommies have rules, too. God’s rules for me say to discipline you because I care about the person you’re growing up to be. I can’t make your decisions for you, but as for me, I’m going to follow God’s rules.”

Somehow this takes the pressure off! Trust me, God can handle being the tough cop. If your strong willed child is constantly bringing out the “You’re so mean!” card, try this phrase to remind your child that your authority as a parent comes from God.

Phrase #4: I’m on your team. Let’s solve this problem together.

You know the saying… It takes two to tango.

When I discipline my strong willed child I try to remind him that we are a team.

Trust me, I’ve been there in what seems like an endless cycle of tantrums and power struggles. I’ve felt the emotional distance, and felt like my child was on the opposite team. I’ve been there!

Here’s the thing. If I’m not on my strong willed child’s team, who will be?

Certainly as his mama I’m in a unique position to understand, to cheer on, and to mold that strong personality.

So on those tough days, when every small thing explodes into a huge thing… On those days I often ask my child, “How can we solve this together?”

What can each of us do so that we can respect and honor each other?

Sometimes it looks like this: “We’ve got a problem, and we can solve it if we work together. I’m going to help you listen the first time. And I’ll do my best to speak gently when I give you directions.”

All children, and especially strong willed children, need to feel they belong. Make sure your children know this truth: they will always belong with you.

Phrase #5: You are a man/woman of God!

With a strong willed child, it’s hard to see past the day-to-day. When it seems like every minute is a battle, it’s seems difficult, even impossible to envision what the future holds for your child.

But that’s exactly what your strong willed child needs. The message that will transform them is one that allows them to catch a vision of their future character and calling.

Cast a vision for your child.

I sprinkle our daily conversations with these two truths: “I love you no matter what. You are one of my favorite people on the planet! You are a man of God, full of promise and potential. God is going to use you in incredible ways!”

Why is this important? Strong willed children need to know that we believe they are more than their latest misbehavior. They need to know that we see their potential, even when they don’t see it themselves.

Are you beginning to see the diamond hiding in the rock? Or maybe you’re digging away, searching for any glimmer of hope with your strong willed child.

Either way remember this…

God chose you. And He chose you on purpose to parent your strong willed child.

There is a diamond in the rough, and you have the incredible privilege of working with the Holy Spirit to reveal that gem, bit by bit.

Parenting a strong willed child takes an extra dose grace and truth. Speak life. And season your conversations with these transformative phrases for your strong willed child. It’s a long road, but I know you can do it with God’s help!