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Tempering an Iron-Willed Child

Tips for tempering your bossy child

Teaching strong-willed children how and when it's appropriate to assert themselves is key, experts say. To tone down your Trump-in-the-making, try the following:

  • Provide challenges. Strong-willed children are extremely goal-oriented, and love to achieve. "Race you to the car!" can get a dawdler moving in the right direction. "Let's see if you can get five peas on your fork" can help get dinner eaten.
  • A nonnegotiable five-minute warning of upcoming transitions, such as getting dressed or leaving preschool, helps eliminate unwelcome surprises. A visual aid, like a timer, can reinforce this in a neutral way.
  • Replay tantrum-provoking situations using peacekeeping words. Teach your child to say, "I was surprised when you gave the toy to Katelyn. I wanted to play with it." The right words provide a more appropriate means for expressing emotions.
  • Let your child take charge sometimes. Play is your kid's domain, and is the best arena in which to let her be the boss. Follow her lead; let her be the teacher and you the student.

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