Exhausted by your strong-willed child? 5 reasons to be grateful

It can be hard to see the positive side to a tantrum or your child's defiance, but there are ways to turn the exhausting moments into useful opportunities that will help your child later in life.

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  • It seems there are zero benefits to having strong-willed children. They are dramatic, over-the-top, emotional, experts at saying no, poor listeners and often disobedient. They express their own ideas loudly and passionately.

  • How are these traits a good thing, you ask? Read the following 5 benefits to having a child with a strong will. See if your mind changes.

  • Your child knows what she wants

  • If there is one thing true about a strong-willed child, it is she knows what she wants. No need worrying about which clothes you'll pick for her to wear or which sippy cup she wants to drink from—she will tell you. Of course, this is problematic when the green sippy is dirty and she won't accept another color.

  • But knowing what she wants can also be a positive trait for her, especially in the future. When it comes to making on-the-spot decisions or choosing whom she will date, being decisive is immensely valuable. Knowing exactly what she wants can help her avoid picking the wrong career or choosing the wrong friends.

  • Your child is not afraid to voice his opinion

  • It's hard to see the silver lining to this trait when he's only three-years-old, but the older he gets, the more important it will be for him to stand up for what he believes in.

  • Voicing his opinion when it comes to how he feels about religious beliefs or current events takes courage. Teach him now it is okay to say out loud how he feels about things. Mix in politeness and respect for others. These skills will be powerful assets for him later in life.

  • Your child is determined

  • A strong-willed child is extraordinarily determined. She finishes what she starts and never stops trying. Of course, you know from personal experience this can back fire if your child chooses not to even try something at all, digging in her heels and refusing.

  • But if you channel this determined energy into something good like learning something new or finishing challenging math homework, it can be a fantastic tool. When life becomes tough, she'll know how to persevere and push through.

  • Your child is not afraid to say no

  • "No" may seem like the most annoying word in the English language to you now, but even at his current age, it is important your child knows how to say no. If strangers approach your son with candy or ask him to come away with them, he will know how to say no.

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  • In the future, when he faces something questionable or uncomfortable, he will say no without feeling embarrassed or pressured to do something he doesn't want to do. This is a skill many adults haven't mastered. Allow him to develop it.

  • Your child tells you exactly how she feels

  • Strong-willed children let you know exactly which emotion they are feeling when they feel it. Excited, sad, angry or—my child's personal favorite—heart-broken are just a few of the emotions they can experience in a given day. I understand; it's exhausting. However, expressing feelings is something many people struggle with. Being able to voice emotions is hard.

  • The fact your child tells you what she is feeling is impressive and incredible. Keep her practicing this as she goes into her teen years, and she will carry it with her into adulthood. Teach her that while expressing her emotions is important, it is even more vital to know how to handle those feelings. If she is angry, teach her techniques on how to handle anger. If she is sad, help her know it is okay to be sad and how to work through sadness.

  • All of these traits have positive and negative sides to them, but taking the time to develop and guide your strong-willed child now will help make him or her a better person in the future. Help your children understand how to use these skills to their advantage in communicating, persevering and going after their dreams. Great leaders and role models express these same traits.

  • So remember, it is not a bad thing your child tells you she is mad at you or he won't put his toys away until he has finished building the perfect Lego tower. It just means your child is expressing parts of his or her personality that can be developed and nurtured into valuable assets later in life.

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Megan Shauri graduated with a bachelors in anthropology and a masters in psychology. She is a mother of twins.

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