So often we hear the term “strong willed child” bandied about, and when you are raising one it can be difficult at times, but it doesn't have to be all encompassing and overwhelming. Raising spirited children is a challenge but it is not something to shy away from.

So often we hear the term “strong willed child” bandied about, and when you are raising one it can be difficult at times. In our house we are of the mindset that we want to take the negative terms and give them a positive channel. We don’t say “strong willed” (though she is), we say “passionate” and “confident”. We want the good things to come out of this strong nature. Breaking the will is something we definitely do not want to do. Raising spirited children is a challenge but it is not something to shy away from.


A spirited child is a strong willed one. It is a positive spin on what people view as a negative. You can use both terms interchangeably. I have seen more parents and teachers lean more toward using spirited. 


  • Strong perseverance, esp when it comes to what they want
  • Big and powerful emotions that can hard to contain
  • They want to do everything “by myself” no matter how long it will take
  • Transitions are a difficult thing
  • Can be poor sleepers
  • Have a tendency for epic meltdowns 
  • Can have sensitivity triggers
  • Dramatic and intense
  • Like to argue (esp when they want to prove they are right)
  • Good at using selective hearing
  • Can be bossy
  • Experiential learners 
strong willed children making faces


They are NOT bad kids! Even if they do take every tool in your parent kit and produce a desire for something strong at breakfast time. Remember that perseverance, passion, and strong convictions are all positive qualities. 

They are not just being difficult. 


When raising a strong willed or spirited child you often find yourself feeling like you are repeating yourself over and over as you deal with outbursts, questions, arguments, etc, etc.

Here are some tips:

  • Build trust. This can be best done by listening and being there.
  • Be consistent (yes, this can be hard, esp when you are tired but it pays off)
  • Allow your child to learn through experience
  • Help your child learn independence and allow some autonomy
  • Work on providing choices (and ones you can follow through on)
  • Use routines and rules. Boundaries are important.
  • Help your child learn how to communicate feelings (I have a vlog on this)
  • Provide warnings and consequences
  • Encourage problem solving
  • Provide clear expectations
  • Don’t have too many rules
  • Be willing to walk away from arguments. Don’t engage if you are frustrated. 
little girl with attitude

People will have opinions on your child’s behavior and on your parenting! Be prepared. If you are raising strong willed children, you KNOW, you just know that there are looks and judgements. But it’s ok. I know that I can handle (for the most part) the comments or looks due to the fact that I know I am raising powerful women.

Here is a good book about raising spirited children. But be warned – it is not going to teach you how to squash the behavior, rather to help them to learn to control their feelings, etc. For this reason I loved it. I do not believe in squashing spirited or strong willed behavior.


Check on your friends with strong willed or spirited children.
They might not be ok! 

Do you have a literal thinker? Check out this post.

Michayla Best

For over 30 years I have worked with children in a variety of capacities, whether as a teacher or tutor, a babysitter, a camp leader, or family advocate. I have always found a way to connect with children, to help them understand themselves and the world around.

I am Mummy to trinational twincesses who keep me on my toes with their questions, their commentaries, their shenanigans and acts of spontenudity.

Wife, world traveler, musician, crafting queen and self-proclaimed nerd; I love to take what I see, glean, know and help families to find their groove and be successful.

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