How to Parent a Strong-Willed Toddler


Meet up with mom friends and their toddlers for a playdate.Toddlers are so fun. They have words, are so inquisitive, and needless to say — they’re cute! But there are moments and even days when you wonder how to handle those special ones who are strong-willed. The fierceness, the independence, and all the things you love about your little one can also be so incredibly difficult.

It is so hard to manage your expectations — and frankly, your emotions — when dealing with strong-willed toddlers. But these tools will not only help you, they will also help your toddler learn emotional regulation.

Plan Ahead for the Meltdown 

As a busy mama, you already do so much planning ahead. But when you have a strong-willed toddler, take time to work through your schedule ahead of time. For example, adding 10 more minutes to your commute time will allow your toddler to get in and out of the car on his or her own and can help decrease the likelihood of tantrums.

Planning ahead also means having activities for toddlers so that your toddler has an opportunity to be part of the daily tasks! This helps your kiddo feel in control and part of your day.

>> RELATED READ :: How I Use a Timer to Get My Toddler to Do ANYTHING <<

Take a Moment

This is sometimes so difficult, especially when trying to manage the never-ending list. Do not forget that our kids, especially our toddlers, look to us to see how we manage our emotions. Take that deep breath, fix the tone of your voice if you need to, and revisit the request made of your little one. When your kiddo sees you taking a deep breath and a moment to gather yourself, you are creating real-time learning opportunities for emotional regulation. 

Set quiet time for yourself, take a moment and show your toddler that it is okay to walk away. The “mom time-out” is also a way to show how time-out can be used as a decompression tool when things are too difficult. Consider spending your time-out it with a friend (particularly one in the same life stage).

Give Them Space

This one can be especially difficult when we have our way that we want to do things. Toddlers need and often crave the space to figure things out on their own. Allow them to be wrong, allow them make mistakes, and allow them to celebrate their own efforts! This lets them learn natural boundaries and consequences (safely) with simple cause and reaction.

Letting our strong-willed toddlers figure out things on their own provides the independence and control they crave.

Toddlers stand a table playing with toys.Set Expectations 

Like with all parts of life, set the expectations for our toddlers. Too often we think they do not understand, but they sure do!

Set expectations not only when they have an opportunity to help, like with the chores, but also when managing emotions. For example, explain that our feet are not for kicking seats, they are for kicking balls or running! This instills emotional regulation during stressful times. Use tools from multiple sources, including Love and Logic, to help you understand more about how the brain develops and what’s realistic to expect.

>> LISTEN :: What I Wish I Knew About the Toddler Years :: Momfessions Podcast <<

Our little ones feed off of our emotions and sometimes the toddler emotional rollercoaster feel like an endless loop! Use these opportunities to model good emotional regulation. And remember, take time for yourself.


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