“Christine did not want to go to the first day of pre- school. I talked her into getting into the truck, and then she was all excited and really wanted to go. We got there, and all of a sudden, she was mad—screaming, crying, absolutely mad—and she could not believe that I was going to make her go into this lady’s room. So she would not go, would not go, would not go. ‘Mom, I hate that lady, don’t make me go, don’t make me go. I can’t believe you’re doing this to me. I don’t want to go, she’s mean, she’s mean, she’s mean! I hate that lady. I hate that lady ’cause she hates me. Take me home right now!’”

If you are the parent of a strong-willed child, this incident probably sounds vaguely familiar.  Maybe your son or daughter was determined to avoid pre-school like little Christine.  Maybe the revolt stemmed from refusing to wear a particular pair of shoes or deciding that eggs were no longer the best choice for breakfast.  You name it!  Strong emotion is a powerful tool in the strong-willed child’s toolbox.

Why?  It is really quite simple.  A child’s strong emotions have the power to sway an unsuspecting parent.  Hearing your angry, tearful child shout,  “I can’t believe you’re doing this to me!” can make any parent step back and think.

Hopefully while thinking, you will filter your feelings and sentiment through your intellect.  As you do, you should come to the realization that strong emotion and words like “mean” and “hate” are used to manipulate and gain control.  Armed with that knowledge, remember you are the parent.  Your child does not have the knowledge or experience to be in control.

Has your strong-willed child ever gained control through the use of strong emotion?