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Practical Advice for Parenting Strong-Willed Children (Part 1 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
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November 19, 2020 5:00 am

Practical Advice for Parenting Strong-Willed Children (Part 1 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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November 19, 2020 5:00 am

Educator and author Cynthia Tobias offers encouragement and practical advice for the difficult scenarios faced by frustrated parents of strong-willed children, ranging from very young to adult. (Part 1 of 2) (Original airdate: Oct. 8, 2012)

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I remember just getting really panicky like no I have to figure this out right now because my my Sunday school like two hours and I have to know what to say when Holly's son was considering suicide. She called a Focus on the Family counselor all those years I've been listening to focus. I was thinking about how they were like a practical guide for me that was founded by certificate from them. I didn't really know where else to turn on Jim Daly. Working together we can rescue hurting parents like Holly and give families hope.

We need the truth that Focus on the Family brings into our minds and into our homes. We need that if working to raise up the next generation of believers to walk in obedience and to walk in the truth that God loves us, only today Focus on the and your gift will be doubled with authority and authority has to be in place but you're not the boss of me. You can't force me to do something Forced me love you can't force me to respect you in the end, you can't force me to do anything.

I figured that out 18 months. You know they can open your mouth and they can put the pieces in and they can force your mouth close but they cannot force you to digest the other humors. It was like the meds from a self-proclaimed strong-willed child, now adults. In view of the bias she is with us to share her personal insights to help you with your headstrong kids, this is Focus on the Family I'm John Fuller and hostess focus presidents and author Jim Daly. I'm sure many of you can relate to.

What's that this year there. It seems like every family has at least one strong-willed child and I know we do, we only got to so I'm not going to say who it is. Today we want to return to this popular program because Cynthia has such helpful insights on raising and disciplining strong-willed children that she's an expert in less time. The Cerda mom named Amy from Kansas sent us a note and I want to read that whole, because it perfectly describes what were about to hear. She wrote our first child is so strong-willed and were going crazy.

I heard your program was Cynthia Tobias and I were sure that you had hidden cameras in our home was so like many of you describe are child and parenting challenges.

This morning we had a situation. I asked do you want us to be disappointed in your work and while it worked. He answered calmly and politely know and that was it.

No argument back.

No blaming someone else wow thank you thank you thank you so much for airing this. I can't tell you how many tears I've shed how much of my voice.

I've lost how much sleep I've missed just trying to make any progress to no avail.

It's encouraging to know that we are not the only parents with the child like this. She's not. And this is a wonderful affirmation for what Cynthia shared McKenna practical advice we have for well John that's what were trying to do with the broadcast each and every day to provide you some hope.

No matter what it is and this one's about strong-willed children. So if you're the grandparent or the parent of that child, listen and you're going to enjoy this and share with others through the download app in other ways we can do that. Let's go ahead and listen out of the conversation with Cynthia Tobias on today's Focus on the Family, Cynthia. It is great to have you back your Focus on the Family how it's always great to be here. Thank you so much doesn't it used to be.

This is what I love about you used to be both a teacher and then you were in law enforcement.

I mean, what a combo career that must've been common anything teacher cop kids must love that they did. As you can always get back with the top story can always get the attention back a lot of respect in class and you've done so much, you've written so many books and you really do have a heart for the strong-willed kids because you were one word you yes I am one that I don't outgrow it.

I have one because my mother prayed that would be so and I talked to so many thousands of them. Over the past couple decades and it's just it's so rewarding to be able to have that not only have that in common but have them share with me. Yeah, this is me. Boy I could've written this book. This is truly how I think is good.

Let's mission a book because it is a great book for parents are dealing with this and even parents who don't know if they are they are not dealing with the strong-willed child. The title is, you can't make me. But I can be persuaded that I love the title tell us the attributes of the strong-willed child. Where is apparent how we start discerning strong-willed child behavior, but you can really probably from the womb.

The mother said I could from the beginning, but about 18 months or so. By 18 months. You can really see some patterns emerging in and I is not negative and strong-willed in and of itself is very positive and you want all your kids to have a certain amount of strong well but how you guided how you directed you see strong convictions.

Easy determination you see where that not easily daunted, not easily discouraged doesn't necessarily take no for an answer you can tell me it's impossible to do but all I think is you mean it's never been done yet.

When do those attributes start appearing 123 I think even in infancy. Personally, having been a mom and I could see him and I felt it does. I had twins and one boy in one place and one in the other, and even before they were born.

I side is not, then, that was strange, but especially in toddlerhood and it really shows up in the date we call him the terrible twos but they really kind of turbulent days. All through their life and I depends again how much it shows up depends on the kind of parenting style and whether or not the strong-willed child has an opportunity to exhibit those traits in a positive way.

But all through your life and you never ever outgrow it, but some of the most successful people in the world have a really good strong dose of strong, well it's just when you're parent and you strong-willed child is young, they have to practice on you because I mean when you think about you lust you want to practice on right that the leading young attorneys and politicians and preachers and salespeople and if we can just guided and directed in the right way.

God has given us a great complement parent of the strong-willed child. I remember one of the incidences with my strong-willed child.

Jean was having a tea for the ladies and should put out all these chocolates on the table and several are missing the time the teacher came around she said the Trent. I just got names all chugs but she said did you eat all these chocolates he said no she's why you're always chocolates missing. He said I didn't need all of them.

I ate some of the bookshelves I write the letter of the law right because we can always find just a little way to go around something my son did the same thing when they were toddlers in the backseat.

I heard I heard Mike strong-willed man slap his brother Robert on the leg and I said Michael don't hit your brother because I my brother and I said I just heard you hit him as hard as you could, because I didn't hit him as hard as I could I could hit him a lot harder everything very accurate. That's right.

How you word we talked about the positive attributes of these kids can have determination. They have grit they really want to get it done. They can be extremely loyal yet same time there are some downsides.

Let's touch on those that we touched on a bit of that but let's talk a bit about the downside the negative aspects of strong-willed children. You know when it goes sideways and it goes sideways most quickly when there's a bony finger pointed in my face or when someone you know, it sounds like an edict or an order, then I tend to as a strong-willed child react with rebellion, with a little bit of defiance with no you can't make me. And I don't want to do it and I don't have to. If I don't want to. So then I can become a real drain on the family. For one thing, because it takes all your energy just to try to get me to obey and out what happens with parents a lot of times when I don't obey the first time.

Then they just keep drilling in the drilling and drilling and drilling, and pretty soon they're the ones with high blood pressure, headaches, all kinds of problems and on the strong-willed take on whatever you're winning. I'm winning absolutely because we talk about those who anger you control you and I learned that at a very early age will talk about that because you for the parent who understandably gets angry when this child is not doing what you've asked him to do even politely rhino as Christian parents who want to do this well.

So say hey little Johnny can you put your shoes and socks away and you get nothing, or you get no come on, let's get that done now and then before too long. Would you put those socks away now and that child really digs and at that point, yes, but the key to all of it and I've talked to thousands and everybody tells me we all agree the key to it is how you ask us how you talk to us. We wouldn't respect you if you seem to be asking permission because you're the parent we know you're the parent and I'm comfortable with that authority. Believe it or not, and every strong-willed child that even talk to kids that are in jail and they're fine with authority is just how it's communicated, so if you come across is can we continuous and scared of me. I'm not going obey you or if you come across with the typical positional authority, which is listen you better do what I tell you to do because I'm your dad on your mom and you better do it now. Then that has the opposite effect to its own authority that says look I need to push that shoes and socks on now. Okay and and I say no.

What's the problem why just don't know what socks and underwear. Well, okay, let's choose them in the musket amount okay okay usually 80% of the time that conflict is just because I wanted to have just a little bit of control over myself.

I don't need to control you. I just can't let you take all control away from me, which is what you do if you say this is how it's gonna be.

End of discussion. Here's another example that I love. There's actually commercial on television like out the other day so little boy that sits at the table.

Note the products work, but this little boy byline is eat your vegetables or you won't leave the table and the next thing you see them as old and I will strong-willed day here as long as I need. That's when the parents really struggle with. You've got that before you leave the table.

Is that a good declaration of war in almost anything that entails the threat. The ultimatum look if you don't clean that room.

There's not can be any ice cream for you. You better get your homework done or you're not. Any time it's phrased that way. Yet just have to remember that as a strong-willed kid we all know that there is pain for gain right. We know there's a price to pay. I expect to pay the price. It would be nice if I didn't have to, but I expect to pay that ticket and pay that price in my mind is a strong-willed child.

It all depends on how much I'm willing to pay.

How long will I be grounded six weeks or less could be worth right. How hard will I be spanked if I get up on that table.

I'm not supposed to go because it can't last that long. It can't be that hard, you're probably not going to kill me. So if I'm thinking like that is the strong-willed child. This positional authority. His thinking they're going to find something that if it's bad enough will force me to do it and I'm here to tell you it isn't that way there is no hammer that's gonna force me to do it because I can die figuratively, at least before I'll do it. Cynthia, you said something a moment ago that I am not able to just skim past I'm stuck here and I've heard you on Focus on the Family. We have read your books we've talked before this is all rooted in control for the child.

You said is a strong-willed child you didn't want to give up all control over your own destiny if you will. I never realize that and and in the book. This new revised edition is great because it got four new chapters in strong-willed child emergency kit and stuff and one of the things that we given here. The three critical truths about how the strong-willed mind works and I've done this for years now, years and years and I've never had anybody disagree with me but the first critical truth is, it's not authority attached, communicated, and the second critical truth is I don't need to control you.

I just can't let you take all control away from me. I need you to share it with me. Another way saying look where you want to take a nap today. In other words, there will be a nap. I will let you know when I say what I might take it out on the front yard and you say nice try can't do that. Where what your other choices, but where you can kind of give me a little bit of sway.

I don't need a lot I just need for you to respect me the way you want me to respect you and if you don't model the respect that you want from me.

It's very difficult if not impossible for me to give the respect to you.

In fact Cynthia there something you raise in the book the okay question. I love that which try to end your comments with okay which conveys control back to that strong-willed child we go to bed now okay here's the key to that and and every strong-willed child that listens to me will know this is true, it's all in how you say that okay is it is a magic word but you have to say and certainly another would you and saved you child all I just need to do this for me sweetheart okay then. To me I'm thinking, weakness, tentative I have to destroy you. I have to fight my urge to destroy but if you said calm and firm and you say it with the tone that says look, I know you could die if you want to. I'm hoping you don't choose to Egypt which is seatbelt on.

Okay, no, my response is no then you say why not, but it's too tight. I don't like it, but let's loosen it a little and then put it on. Okay, okay, that's when 8/10 times I come back I just need a little bit that's my little tiny bit of control seek just a tiny tiny fit. Instead, a sink in the van. We are late.

If you say eight errata could be that radio and I say all Yama to go get a drink and I'll be right there any parents are amazed at how often they get cooperation if they'll just stop for a minute and think about how they are about to phrase this and asking questions does not mean you're asking for permission. You are not asking for your kids permission to obey.

That's clear your authorities intact and your accountabilities intact, but the way you say the respect that you give me even as a very young child, let alone a teenager that says, in essence tells me you always have a choice while you're listening to the wisdom of Cynthia Tobias on today's Focus on the Family hosted by Jim Daly I'm John Fuller and of the foundational book for conversation is you can't make me. But I can be persuaded, and Cynthia moment or two ago you mentioned three things going on in the minds of the strong-willed child we heard to want go ahead and recap the first two and give us the third as well. These are three critical truths to how the strong-willed mind thinks and works. The first one was it's not authority. We have trouble with its how you communicated the second one. I don't need to control you. I just can't let you take all control away from me and the third one which is really crucial is the quality of the relationship you have with that strong-willed child will directly determine the effectiveness of your techniques. In other words, if there is a positive relationship that I want to preserve as a strong-willed kid. Then I will work with you and you thought leverage with me, but if there's no relationship I care about. There's no real upside. You're always looking for the worst, anyway. And I know that you think I want to cause trouble. So the next things can be trouble to then really you have no leverage because there's no upside for me to keep a relationship together. Cynthia I think that's the critical point the relationship when you look at parents are struggling in the teen years with their kids. Typically, this is the core problem. There's so little relationship that the teen is going his or her own direction and the parent who wants more control is actually hopeless because I have absolutely no control and that's a very dangerous moment in the relationship with your child. How does a parent build that relationship if they're saying right now. Oh no, I've blown it. What can they do start repairing what you know, sometimes it's as simple as just being honest with me, it's you. Being able to save weight. I think I need to do over.

What I really meant to say was I made this didn't come out right. But here's what I'm really going for.

If you'll just be honest with me. I called my glassdoor theory right if your life is a glass door.

I can see right through you, so you know your stubborn insistence that I can't know what's going on is only going to make me not trust you more.

So just be honest with me, say, and sometimes I think it came from a different planet. I need help here how what's going to work with you what you need me to do and catches me off guard as it especially is a strong-willed kid teenager and thinking wow.

I mean my parents are thinking that they're perfect and that think they are actually asking me what works. Another not asking my permission and they're not saying you can do whatever you want, but they're saying you know it's really important to me. Is this an and here's what I'm trying to establish. I'm not sure I'm going about it the right way, but I know I'm looking for the right and can you help me figure out how to get there and and then the kids gone like him and then I'll just sometimes I just do it your way. Just because you were honest with me and just because you treated me well it's it builds a relationship where I care about you because I sense that you care about me you care what I think about you you care about the relationship we let's face it is strong-willed kids you know we walk into the room. People aren't always that happy to see us coming because our reputation precedes us right and sometimes as parents we just have to practice smiling more that kid even when I don't feel like I'm not that happy to see you, but if I can just put a smile on my face and say something good to you as a strong will get well. While it's great to see you here today I'm you know I don't know if I told you lately, but I feel really privileged that God trusted me with a kid like you. You've got the most incredible strengths. Sometimes they drive me crazy but I appreciate you.

They really do need encouragement and you can find the simplest ways to do that.

The other day. This is hilarious.

We had a balloon get caught in our ceiling fan probably three years ago we have it so you think that is because it's 20 feet high. The highest point in its two stories up in our living room and so I mean just the other day I thought I saw a letter here focus. I thought I would take that home does it look big enough but lo and behold it was short, it was still a 10 foot ladder, but even at 62. It wasn't enough and I said to Trent, who is really good at problem solving. I said what would you do, he lit up when ice said you know you're really good at solving problems. What would you do because I'm out of answers and he got right to it. What would you put blocks under the latter we could do all the stuff but you can find ways to encourage a strong-willed child, and by the way, that's one of the favorite things that came up over and over strong-willed kids. I talked to, we would much rather have compelling problems to solve, then just a list of chores to do so, you did exactly the right thing intuitively is apparent saying you know. While this is my issue. This is what I have to sell here instead of saying this is what you need to do and needs to be done now make it a compelling problem that I can help you solve and the chances are good you'll have my cooperation Cynthia for a parent to switch that gear because here your mom and you're doing the diapers and then there eating solid food and now you get them ready for kindergarten. You really gotta flip a switch to parent them slightly differently.

Don't you kiss doing the chores. What I need you to do.

Take out the trash help with the dishes but to give them a problem to solve. You gotta be thinking like a teacher almost. I and you know one of the things mentioned at the back of the book is you don't have to do all this want you not to change everything.

Once you know maybe start with what one area that's really a problem. I just work on it for a little bit and and practice a little and and you use your strong-willed friends or even spouses resources there's it's great to go up to strong-willed adult that you know and say you not get a kit a lot like you, I need a little advice here and what's great and what I loved about doing but the book is just talking to other strong-willed minds. They just either verified or expanded and said what really worked for me was that be great to hear you saying something Cynthia that I don't believe I got when I was a new parent and Jim. I don't know you caught it or not I thought it was my job to mold my child and you're saying it's it's a lot of work and Jim, you've made this point already. It's a lot of work to shift your parenting style to adapt to the kid and for a long time. I was going off the positional authority you're talking about, and I'm in my child's face saying hey, you gotta get this done and she's thinking why interests for so long.

I was refusing to change my parenting approach. There's great wisdom in what you're saying I want make sure that I'm understanding that properly though, you're not saying acquiesce to saying see what your child's bent and gifting is an adapt right and if you look at Proverbs 22 six that talks about train up a child in the way he should go right then we thinking that means we tell them what to do. But if you really think about it the greatest thing we can do for our kids is to train them to be adults and by doing that we want to shift some responsibility for learning to them shift some responsibility for behavior and younger they are, the lower the price tags are right because by the time they get to be 16 or 17 or when they graduate.

If we haven't let them make decisions and let them make mistakes and figure out tuition for lessons, then we are not doing them a service we haven't trained them. We haven't trained them to figure out what their strengths are, how to use them.

We just train them to listen to what we tell them to do and do it and they're about to walk out of our home and now what. So I really think that the training comes in for us as parents were so much wiser if we help them figure out as we go. This is why this has to happen.

Why do I have to do stupid dumb boring homework.

Well, I've never heard a mile and you and then you say well White you know what he what you think the reason would be because the teacher just wants to torture me. It's possible but you know, do you think it's possible to get a good grade without doing the homework and you don't have them think about what it is and say there are times when it is just hoops that you have to jump through. So let's think about what would help you do the homework when you're really bored because they need to think as kids as what do I need if I'm bored what happens. What do I need to do if I don't feel like doing things I don't want to do. I can't just tell you as a parent I can but it doesn't help you. You need to be thinking about this so that later when you are growing up. You can think about how my can get myself motivated to look to do when my mom's not here to say do it is Cynthia, one of the difficulties as we live in this natural world.

I mean for both moms and dads use a breaking point for you and there's a lot of tension in the strong-willed child home because that child is constantly testing those boundaries constantly, and after you be in control, or at least gain some control and you're fighting that and if you're personality bent is toward higher control.

You got this tremendous conflict going on at some point you're going to have a meltdown. What should parent do a mom or dad.

What advice you have for them. When that moment hits and that natural human emotion is coming up and you begin to act like a child and not the parent. What do you do well, you know, first of all you if you have a relationship you're in good shape because it there's a relationship that we have together as parent and child, then I'm actually as a strong-willed kid, I'll give you grace W times. We'll just snap at me or point your bony finger at me and then be okay because I know you don't always do that and I know you're under a lot of stress, so I actually give you grace and you can even if you can keep a sense of humor. If you can say are you trying to get in trouble and go know is that is that what I'm doing. So now you're smiling and I've got this opportunity.

You just gave me for this fire escape to back off so sometimes just you know lightening up a little, but we talk about in chapter 7 we talk about the strong-willed child emergency kit and basically what that emergency kit is that you know the three steps number one if you're in the middle of a meltdown. You need to back off because the further you press in with me is not going to get any better because you are already pointing your finger at me and if you think by pressing in and saying it louder and slower is going to make it better. Your mistake because I've already shut down about the laws already gone up so you can yell all you want were done and you as a parent you're going crazy because you thought more say that I don't want to listen.

I'm not listening because you yelling so back off back off, get your perspective just walk away. Say you know what I just need a few minutes here to cool off before I say sent my regret and or you know like one mom she said I sometimes say I'm in a pretend you didn't just say that and walk away because then get the perspective right and and then never to decide what what's the point.

What am I trying to achieve here. Okay, think for a second. What am I trying to do because as a parent I'm just getting carried away because I wanted my way. I'm in a hurry for heaven sake.

I don't have time to think about how this kid thinks so just think about look at and back off and say it may be a do over.

Look, I just need this to be done. Do you have another idea on how to do it and then the third thing is that honesty thing just and again saying this is a working I'm irritated more than I can tell you and I love you and I don't want to yell at you. This isn't working and that could be so hard. Cynthia we run out of time and we let's come right back next time. If you can stick with this absolute.

Let's pick up on the honesty part because I think it's very difficult for parents to humble themselves and be honest with their kids. Can you do that absolutely are listed your book. You can't make me. But I can be persuaded Cynthia Tobias, the strong-willed child like you for being with us but we do hope you're to be joining us next time.

For help with parenting your strong-willed child and in the meantime, we have Cynthia's book for you just get in touch and ask for, you can't make me. But I can be persuaded. It is a terrific read offers some great insights into your strong-willed child, and Cynthia has some really positive ways to motivate your child and how to share control without compromising your authority and when you get the book through us. Those dollars go to support the ministry of Focus on the Family and with the gift of any amount to stand with us and support families will send you a copy of Cynthia's book is our way of saying thank you also, when you donate focus today. Your gift will be double because of some generous friends who will match whatever you give your support is critical so that we can finish the year strong and plan to reach even more families in the coming year. I can't wait to see how God will work for you and Focus on the Family in 2021 donate today. The link is in the episode notes or call 800 K in the work-family on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team. Thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family plan be with us next time. Is Cynthia Tobias is back once more help you and your family thrive build your child's faith with clubhouse junior and clubhouse magazines from Focus on the Family boys and girls ages 3 to 12 will enjoy all the faith building activities from fun crafts and puzzles to character building fiction and powerful Bible stories invest in your child's faith all year long. Subscribe bags clubhouse and clubhouse junior winning magazines full of games and stories, and God find my

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