how to discipline strong willed kids

Disciplining a Strong Willed Child – 13 Genius Strategies for Parents

As a parent, disciplining your child can be tough. If you have a strong-willed child, disciplining them can seem impossible! Whether they are throwing tantrums or testing limits, there is always something to deal with. This article discusses 13 genius strategies for disciplining a strong-willed child that you may not have thought of before!

What is discipline? 

Discipline is teaching. Discipline is about the way we teach children, train them and encourage them to do what’s right.

It’s important to note that discipline is not the same as punishment. When we punish children, we’re using negative reinforcement to impact their behavior. Punishment is an ineffective way of disciplining children because usually doesn’t teach them a lesson. In other words, punishing a child doesn’t teach us how to behave positively towards people; it only teaches them not to do that one specific behavior.

Disciplining your child teaches them that there are consequences to their actions; they learn how to behave appropriately through positive reinforcement and intrinsic motivation when appropriate behavior is shown. They also learn that it’s not okay to do whatever they want, whenever they want.

13 Genius Strategies for Parents

Here are 13 genius strategies parents can use to discipline a strong-willed child.

Keep your cool.

Staying calm is crucial when you’re trying to discipline a strong-willed child. An escalated adult cannot de-escalate a child.

Prioritize connection.

Focus on developing a strong relationship with your child. This will strengthen the disciplining process and ensure that you are disciplining for life, not just for right now.

Give them power.

Your child’s primary goal is to feel a sense of belonging and significance. You need to give your child the opportunity to make decisions in order for them to develop their own sense of value and responsibility. One way you can do this is by giving plenty of choices, such as asking “Do you want me to help clean up in the kitchen or tidy up the living room?”

Practice great communication skills.

This skill set is the key to disciplining a strong-willed child. Talk about your expectations and explain why you want them to behave in that way. Get down on their level, look directly into their eyes, use expressive body language such as pointing or lifting an eyebrow if you disapprove of something they did, and be patient when waiting for eye

Set clear expectations.

Stating what you expect your child to do and when they need to do it is a crucial disciplining skill. Create rules with consequences so that there are no surprises, which will make the process easier for everyone involved.

RELATED: What’s the right reaction when my child uses bad language?


Validate your child’s feelings. If they feel heard and understood, they’re more likely to follow your direction and cooperate. You can quickly settle power struggles with a little empathy.

Require contributions

Children who contribute around the house tend to be better behaved. This is because they feel like they’re a valuable part of the family and want to contribute to the common good.

disciplining a strong willed child
how to discipline strong willed kids

Utilize routines

Routines are important so that your child understands what’s expected of them. If they know the drill, it will be easier for everyone–you have a plan in place and can reinforce routine without nagging about things all day long.

Get curious

Ask questions that are curious in nature when your child misbehaves. Instead of losing your cool when your child colors on the living room wall, try asking your child “Can you tell me the story about how you decided to draw this beautiful picture on the wall?” You might discover very innocent (although incorrect) logic behind their misbehavior. And then it will be far easier to teach a lesson.

Practice calming strategies

When disciplining a strong-willed child, it can be helpful to practice calming strategies in order to keep tempers from flaring. This includes deep breathing exercises and mindfulness techniques such as mediation or yoga.

RELATED: What to do if your child laughs when they’re in trouble.

Use effective consequences

Create effective consequences for common misbehavior. It’s important to make sure the consequences are related to the misbehavior and revealed in advance so the kids aren’t surprised by the consequence. To learn about how to create custom consequences, click here

Ditch the threats

Threats don’t work.  Studies have shown that threats don’t result in better behavior, especially if your threats are extreme in duration (i.e. “You’re grounded for a year!”)

Teach the art of compromise

Compromising is a great tool to teach kids early on. When your kids know how to meet in the middle, you’re less likely to face difficult power struggles.

The Bottom Line

Disciplining a strong-willed child is difficult. It’s important to keep in mind the key points: create clear expectations, set effective consequences, practice empathy, and demonstrate good communication skills. You can overcome your power struggles with your strong-willed kid with a little patience and practice.

What You Should Do Next…

1. Snag Our Connected Parent Challenge

Are you ready for more activities to build a rock-solid bond with your kids? Try our Connected Parent Challenge! It’s 15 Days of 15 Minute activities that are sure to improve your connection, diminish bad behavior, and create lasting memories. Plus, I’ll deliver more amazing parenting strategies to your inbox weekly (don’t worry, unsubscribe any time!).

2. Join Our Free Online Community

Connect with like-minded moms (and dads!) in our free online community. You’ll find a plethora of resources to help you through your parenting challenges. Plus, you’ll find me there! And I’d love to connect.

3. Take a Free 60-Minute Parenting Webinar

Do you need actionable strategies right now? Register for this free 60-minute webinar titled How to Get Kids to Listen, Without Nagging, Yelling or Losing Control. You’ll walk away with parent-tested tactics to get your kids to listen starting today.

Scroll to Top