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I could feel it before my son was even born: the fierce,
stomach-bending way he'd flip himself over in my belly. The intensity of his
kicks. The fact that he didn't arrive until 11 days past his due date, and even
then he came out his own way, in a posterior position.
When he was an infant, we took him to see an osteopath in hopes that it
would improve his sleep. A friend who had taken her daughter to see the same osteopath
told me how he'd complimented my friend on her daughter's personality. "She's
just really at peace with the world," he'd told her.
When the osteopath examined my son, he simply said, "Wow. You
can just feel the will coming off of him."
Parenting a headstrong child can be exhausting. My son often digs his heels in about everything from what he won't eat—which is almost everything—to whether or not he needs a coat in the winter. But as he gets older, I'm seeing another side to his iron will. I'm not alone in noticing the positives of an unyielding personality—a recent study that followed people from ages 12 to 52 showed that characteristics like defying ones parents and breaking rules are strong predictors of high incomes in middle-age.
While I'm happy to hear that my son may be able to support
me in my old age, financial success isn't the only benefit that comes with
having a strong-willed child. Here are five awesome things about strong-willed
1. Iron-willed children are undeniably who they are.
There is no
wishy-washiness with strong-willed kids. My son has a strong sense of self, and
while he's grown and matured immensely in his almost seven years, he is just
who he was when he was born.
"I said, 'no thanks'!" my son said firmly. Pride bloomed in my chest as I watched this scene unfold.
2. Strong-willed kids know exactly what they do and
You don't have to guess what your child's opinion is about
something—they will let you know— definitively. When my son's happy, it's
crystal clear. And when he's not, it's even clearer. I rarely have to guess how
he's feeling about something, and I hope he keeps that openness as he gets
3. Determined children are innovative.
day, I was trying to figure out how to make the afternoons when my son has taekwondo after school less stressful. He only has about 40 minutes after school to
have a snack, decompress a little and change into his uniform before we have
to leave for class. Often, when I let him know it's almost time to go, he
dissolves into a tantrum. On the way to class the other day, I asked him, "Can
you think of another way I can let you know that we need to start getting ready
for taekwondo?" He thought for a moment, and then said, "Yeah. Just tell me,
'You have 10 minutes until you need to get your uniform on.'" It seemed too
simple of a solution, but the next day that he had class, I followed his
suggestion. He hopped into his uniform right then, 10 minutes early, with no
If you are the parent of a determined kid, you know how hard it is to
convince them to do something they don't want to do. A month ago, some of my
son's friends were trying out a mini mountain biking path. When one of them
invited my son to try the path, he said, "No thanks." A few minutes later, the
friend again tried to convince him to try the bike path. "I said, 'no thanks'!"
my son said firmly. Pride bloomed in my chest as I watched this scene unfold.
I'm hoping his strong sense of his limits will bode well for him in his teen
and young adult years.
5. Strong-willed children are persistent.
dogged perseverance of a determined child can wear on parents, it's a quality
that will likely help them achieve what they want in life. When my son develops an
interest in something, he generally stays focused on it for a long time, though
he's only 6 years old. Chances are this single-mindedness will help him build
the life he wants when he's older and bring him success in whatever career he
Until then, I'm learning to appreciate these qualities in my
son that had me tearing my hair out when he was a baby and toddler—and may
again during his teen years. There's no changing him, as any parent of a
strong-willed child knows. And as it turns out?