How To Successfully Parent A Strong-Willed Toddler


If you’re raising a mini dictator like me, I have a couple of tips that may make parenting your strong-willed toddler just a wee bit easier.

Strong Willed Toddler, Stubborn Toddler

I don’t know about you, but parenting a toddler is no walk in the park.

It’s also 10x tougher when you have a strong-willed toddler, who has absolutely no problem challenging your authority.

If you do have a strong-willed toddler, chances are, you’ve probably had many days where you’ve questioned whether or not you’re even cut out for this whole parenting thing.

Trust me, I’ve been there!

Well actually, I’m there now.

Right in the thick of it!

My son is a walking, breathing sour patch kid

His innocent curiosity and demanding little personality can easily put me on the brink of having a total melt-down.

But hey, we’re the parents!

We’re supposed to be the level-headed ones right?

Well, if you’re raising a mini dictator like me, it may not be that simple.

Luckily, I’ve found a couple of different strategies that may make parenting your strong willed toddler just a wee bit easier.

Let Them Explore, But Set Firm Boundaries

One of the best ways that kids learn is by exploring the world around them.

That said, exploring is all fun and games until your kid is covered head to toe in baby lotion.

This is why it’s super important to establish clear boundaries very early on. If not, your little one will just assume that everything is fair game.

I mean how many times have you had to repeatedly say “no” or “don’t touch that” until

a. Your little one finally decides to listen


b. They continue to ignore your demands

Now, while this pretty much comes with the territory as it pertains to toddlers and their typical development at this stage in their lives, when you have a strong-willed little human who constantly challenges your authority, it’s important that you establish boundaries without killing their spirit.

A word of caution here:

This type of thing won’t happen overnight. The key to establishing clear boundaries for your little one is to constantly reinforce them.

You can’t enforce a rule one day and then let it slide the next. If anything, that confuses your child and when you do start to enforce said rule again, they won’t understand.

Consistency is key here.


Master The Power Of Alternatives

As stated above, they key to successfully setting clear boundaries is to constantly reinforce them.

I find that the easiest way to do this is by offering alternatives.

If you didn’t know, I’m all about positive parenting and I’m not a fan of yelling at my little one. This isn’t to say that I don’t lose my cool every now and again, but I strive to offer alternatives instead of the traditional commands like “stop”, “don’t do that”, and “no”.

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes, for me at least, saying “no” or “stop” are essential. Especially when I need to get my son’s attention quickly (I.e. before he hurts himself).

However, I’ve found that things go a lot more smoothly if I offer him an alternative.

A super simple example of this is when my son goes into the bathroom and begins to unroll all of the tissue on to the floor.

If I’m lucky and catch him before he starts, I’ll offer him an alternative such as “hey let’s go play in your room for a little while.”

Most times he immediately complies with no fuss and we’ve avoided wasting yet another roll of tissue!

A more practical example would be when he has something that he knows he shouldn’t have, instead of saying “put it down” or “give me that” I just hold my hand out and say “thank you” and he hands it right over.

This is easily one of my favorite parenting hacks!

Remind Them Of The Desired Behavior

I’m sure we all know the joys of being smacked in the face by our little ones or even better, trying not to lose our cool when they have an entire melt-down in the middle of the grocery store.

Trust me, been there, done that, bought the t-shirt and the coffee mug.

However, it’s important to remember that most times, our kids misbehave when their struggling to communicate their feelings with us.

This is especially true if you have a toddler who isn’t able to talk yet.

One of the best ways, that I’ve found to redirect my son’s behavior, without completely crushing his little rambunctious spirit, is to constantly remind him of the desired behavior.

So for instance, sometimes my son gets excited and that excitement turns into hitting. Instead of constantly saying, “don’t hit” or “stop hitting”, I remind him of what he could do instead.

So I’d say something like “rub” or “be gentle” and demonstrate that action for him.

While setting boundaries won’t immediately transform your sour-patch kid into an angel, it’ll definitely cut down on the number of times you have to redirect their behavior.

Besides, a win is a win right?

What are some of your favorite parenting hacks?

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  1. I also find that redirection is a great strategy for undesired behavior. My little one LOVES to whack our dog and cat to show her affection (of course they don’t take it as such) and rather than shouting “stop” or “don’t do that” (I would be saying it con-stant-ly) I just say “be gentle” and demonstrate the desired behavior. It’s going to stick one of these days… Right?!


    1. I definitely feel your pain Mama! My son loves giving out hugs but it kinda looks like he’s choking the other kids when he does it (Yikes, I know! Lol) but redirecting him does wonders with that! Like you said, it’ll stick one of these days lol Thanks for reading Mama!

  2. This is SO great! Thank you for sharing! I teach Early Childhood, so I come across MANY a strong-willed child!

    1. Hey Ashley! I bet you have come across a bunch of strong-willed children working in that field! It can definitely be challenging, but thankfully, there are ways to handle their feisty little personalities! Thanks for reading!

  3. Great points here! I love to use alternatives too! My toddler’s favorite is coloring so that always gets me off the hook. That and snacks!

  4. I really enjoy your blog. I also have a strong willed child…but she is 13 now! I am a relatively new blogger. What size graphic do you use at the start of each post? I really like the look and it also pins nicely? Thank you.

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