Family Life

Michelle Duggar on Raising a Strong-Willed Child

posted: 10/18/13
by: Michelle Duggar
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10.18.13

Question from a "19 Kids and Counting" fan on Facebook: How do you handle particularly strong-willed children?

Well, I've had a couple of strong-willed ones go through here! I had one that really gave us a lot of challenges. We felt like we going back and forth saying, "Don't do that," and they would say, "Why?" They would just push it again and again and I'd think, "They're never going to get it. It's just not getting through."

But we were consistent; that's really important for parents with young children. If you've got a young child and they're strong-willed, just be consistent -- lovingly consistent. Don't get bent out of shape. Don't get upset in the situation. They may push the limit, but they need to know what the boundaries are and they need to understand that those boundaries are not to restrict their fun. Jim Bob would always give this example: He would say, "We have always told you children don't play in the street. Are we saying that to ruin your fun? Is that to spoil your life? Why would we say don't play in the street? We put those boundaries in your life for a good reason. It's to protect you because we love you." Oftentimes as parents, we can see things that are a danger. And that's why when we say it, the first time we'll say, you obey it. There's not a question of arguing with us about it. It's just, yes, Ma'am, I will obey you.

Training a strong-willed one to obey was probably the greatest challenge I faced as a mom. I could train three others and they would quickly learn what I meant. But that strong-willed one, we'd go through these training opportunities over and over. Sometimes I would think, "Oh, they're never going to get it. It's not getting through." But I knew I had seen a few of my others go through this and it was beneficial and did work in their lives, so I just didn't give up. Even though they would butt heads with us, I would be fun but loving and say: "Mommy loves you so much that I'm not going to let you act that way. You cannot talk disrespectful to Momma, and you will obey, and hopefully, you will eventually obey joyfully." But either way, they need to obey. I won't budge.

They know I mean business because I just stand firm in what I say. Remember, you're going to make it as a parent, and they're going to catch on eventually. Jim Bob told me that he was not strong-willed as a child, but he struggled with dyslexia and it just took two or three times for things to connect for him as a child. He would remind me, don't give up -- that could be a little Jim Bob that we're looking at. That gave me hope!

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