Dr. Kevin Leman says strong-willed children are given a bad rap. We want to raise our kids to be strong-willed. When the world tells them, “Believe this,” or “Do that,” we want our children to know right from wrong and to have the strength of conviction to stand for it.
What we don’t want to raise, Dr. Leman says, is what he calls a “powerful child.” Powerful children have an agenda. They want to win, to control, and to dominate. That negative quality is partly the result of the child’s personality, but it’s the result of parenting, too.
By 18 months of age, toddlers understand the power they have over their parents and how to manipulate them to get what they want. By the way, per Dr. Leman: “manipulate” is not an exaggeration. It’s a concise description.
All children seek attention. Their only decision is whether to get it in a positive or a negative way. Once the dominoes of being rewarded for negative attention begin to fall, a “powerful child” is likely to emerge.
If you’re struggling as the parent of a powerful child, you’ll want to hear our Focus on the Family Broadcast “Practical Advice for Parenting Powerful Kids.” Dr. Leman is our guest, and he’s offering practical answers for your questions.
“What if my 9-year-old refuses to clean her room?”
- Dr. Leman suggests hiring your 7-year-old to clean the 9-year-old’s room – and your 9-year-old pays for it out of her allowance. When she realizes that her stubbornness has cost her, she’ll be more willing to reconsider.
Or, “What if my 17-year-old son is expected to clean the garage, but he refuses?”
- Dr. Leman suggests taking his car keys. When he looks for them later that night just say, “Uh oh. Looks like your date for tonight is cancelled.” Be warned: He’ll promise you anything to get his keys back – pull weeds for life, wash the cars every weekend – but you’ve got to stay strong and say, “No.” You have to let him suffer the consequences of his decisions.
For more practical tips from Dr. Leman to guide your powerful child, find our program on your local radio station, online, on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or take us with you on our free phone app.
We’ll have a lot of laughs, take questions from a group of moms who joined us in our studio, and talk about how to replace your child’s power struggle with a strong-will while restoring peace to your home.
Before I close, I’d like to extend an invitation for you to become a special partner with us through our monthly “Friends of Focus on the Family” program. When you do, I’ll send you a copy of Dr. Leman’s book Parenting Your Powerful Child: Bringing an End to the Everyday Battles as a way of saying thank you for touching others with the love of Christ. You’ll also receive member-exclusive benefits. To make your pledge, or for more information, click here or call 1-800-A-FAMILY (232-6459).
Thank you for partnering with us to help families in need.