Stay Sane! 5 Homeschool Tips for Your Strong-Willed Child

behavior character Dec 25, 2023
a little girl defiantly holding up her hand with

"Parents, don’t come down too hard on your children or you’ll crush their spirits." ~Colossians 3:21 (The Message)

Hey there tired mama! Are you homeschooling a difficult child and having hard homeschool days?

Does he or she like to do whatever they want?

Maybe they have a very strong personality?

Maybe they are born a gifted leader that will be GREAT one day, but right now you have to find ways to rein this little tyrant in?

I feel you!🙋‍♀️

My little strong-willed child is now 18, but we had some tumultuous years along the way! Something I had to realize fairly early was that I cannot actually control my child -- I can only control myself.  Ever tried making your child keep their shoes on their feet?  Can't do it.  Have you tried to force your kid to eat something they didn't want to eat? Impossible.  You can't actually make them do anything; you can only control yourself and change the circumstances around them to be unpleasant if they choose not to obey. God has given all of us free will, and your strong-willed child wants to utilize this gift frequently.😂

We want to empower you with 5 behavior hacks you can use throughout your homeschool day to make your life easier and actually enjoyable. 


Homeschool Tip for Your Strong-Willed Child No. 1: Frame your talk in a positive way

Are you constantly telling your child, "If you don't do this, you won't get to...."  Yeah, me too.  I realized this when my son was about three years old, and it made me so sad to think that my child was living under this cloud of negativity daily. Strong-willed children are difficult and frustrate most of the adults in their lives...parents, coaches, grandparents, church teachers...THEY ARE A CHALLENGE. Think about all of the people they encounter on a weekly basis and how they are treated by frustrated adults.  It dawned on me one day my child was living in a world where I always framing things as a threat, and most likely many of the people were around him, too.  What kind of life was that giving him?  Every day, his day was filled with warnings and promises of bad things happening. I knew I couldn't always change others, but since he spent the majority of time with me, I could change myself. Instead of framing my talk in the negative, I could switch it around to the positive:

Instead of: "If you don't pick these toys up now, you won't get to play outside!"

Try this: "If you want to be able to go outside, I need you to put these toys away in the next few minutes."

See the difference? Framing your talk in the positive keeps your strong-child working towards a goal.  It's not a bribe, but rather positive consequences happening based on their behavior rather than framing everything as a punishment or negative consequence if they DON'T do something.  Is there a place for negative consequences? Absolutely. But constantly threatening them with our talk is not a life-giving way to parent. It's not always easy, but we can train ourselves to change the way we talk, and in doing so, change the environment for our kids.

Homeschool Tip for Your Strong-Willed Child No.2: Give choices

This tip is the BEST tip to stick in your parenting tool kit for a strong-willed child. When I came home from college and worked at a summer camp, we were trained on this strategy. It's a game changer and I have used it in every situation with kids I have taught -- with my first graders, church classes, in classes I've subbed in, and in my home.  I've even used it on my husband (respectfully, of course!).  Strong-willed kids want control. Why not give it to them?  They key is giving it within boundaries.  When you give choices, you are letting them know that they have a say, but it is still within reasonable boundaries that you as a parent are setting. For instance:

"Time to do some reading -- would you like to read on the couch or in the hammock?"

"I need you to try these last 3 math problems -- would you like to do them on your own, or do you want me to sit here while you try them?"

"We're going to finish this chapter book - do you want to read the first page or do you want me to start?"

"It's time to leave -- do you need me to help you gather everything or are you going to do it yourself?"

See, you are stating what needs to happen, but you are just giving them a say in how it's going to get accomplished.  It's a win-win.

I know what you are thinking...what if they choose something that wasn't a choice? It always happens. You just repeat yourself and give the two choices again. If they choose something that wasn't a choice again, then you just choose for them, Mommy. "Well that's not a choice, so now I am going to choose for you." DONE. Say it matter-of-fact and move on. Next time they might make the right choice (or they might not! ha!). Be calm and consistent and be the adult. 

Homeschool Tip for Your Strong-Willed Child No. 3: Avoid talk that can be argumentative: "You need to..." and "You have to..."

Never say this to a strong willed child..."YOU NEED TO..." In their mind they don't need to do anything.  They will argue against this every. single. time.  A better way to frame your talk is to say, "I NEED YOU TO..." They can't argue against this because they can't control you or what you need. ;) Enough said on this one!

Homeschool Tip for Your Strong-Willed Child No. 4: Stay calm (don't let them see you freak)

Another homeschool mom who was ahead of me in her parenting journey told me this tip. Her oldest of 4 was a strong-willed child and had done some crazy teenage things and had even jumped out of a car once (she is now a high powered attorney, by the way!).  Your kids might do CRAZY things but you have to stay calm. Such good advice and I am so thankful I had her to tell me this when my kids were young.

You are the adult. You are the parent. Many times your strong-willed child will do and say things just to get a reaction. Always stay calm.  Take deep breaths and pray in your head if you need to but never freak out. Simple, but not entirely easy.😁 

Homeschool Tip for Your Strong-Willed Child No. 5: Be prepared for them to choose the negative consequence

This last tip was something I needed to learn and it shocked me.  I was a shy, compliant child who just did what I was told. I didn't like getting in trouble, yelled at, or getting punished. My strong willed child? A complete opposite of me.  He has thick skin, is not easily ruffled, and has been known to accept a negative consequence because the benefits of what he wanted to do were worth the consequence in his eyes.  Be prepared for this!  Don't' try to save them from making the bad choice -- remember you cannot control them.  Let them choose their path and suffer the consequence if they so choose.  It's difficult to watch, but they get to choose.  You have to respect that about them, even though it can be shocking for those of us who are older and wiser.

Bonus Tip: Pick your battles

Listen, mama. Not everything has to be a battle. YOU don't need to control everything either (maybe you are strong-willed, too?!?).  Strong-willed children want freedom, and you have to give it to them in as many ways as you can. Let them pick their own clothes, even if they don't match or look like they're homeless.  Let them have a say in whether they get in the car by themselves or you put them in. Let them choose their destiny AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE and reserve your rules and your "no's" for the times when it really counts.


God will teach you so much as you raise this powerful and opinionated little human being. Try to keep the relationship with them, while carefully and respectfully guiding them along they path they should go. We hope these tips make it easier to enjoy their big personalities and the time you have with them. God has made your their mother for a reason. Embrace it!

Are you trying to implement behavior strategies in your home but coming up short? This is the absolute power of finding a community and other moms who are just a few steps ahead of you in their journey to guide you and give you encouragement. We encourage you to prayerfully consider our homeschool help for moms: The Homeschool Well Community, The Homeschool Well Coaching 

We also want to tell you about some of our favorite resources for parenting strong-willed children: You Can't Make Me But I Can Be Persuaded, Parenting with Love and Logic, Kevin Lehman's books

We pray this blesses you!

Be encouraged,



This article was written with care by Kim & Jenny. No AI invited.😜❤️️


👓Other articles you may find interesting!

Know Your Why: Choosing What to Teach In Your Homeschool

ADHD and Homeschooling: 6 Simple Tips for Planning Your Days

How and Why to Add Scripture Memorization to Daily Homeschool Plans


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