Working Mother

5 Steps to Get a Willful Child to Follow Your Rules Without Protest

Mother and son argue

When a child lashes out, there are far more effective tools than punishment.

Photo: iStock

A willful child is a misnomer. Willful children are belligerent only because they can’t articulate their needs and express their anger and frustration.

Typically, when parents face a kid with a temper tantrum or oppositional behavior, they might try to use rewards to teach the lesson they want to share. While the rewards might work temporarily, but the lessons learned aren’t internalized—only the wish for the reward. Similarly, when parents use punishment to send a message, the punishments are usually resented, and the negative behavior increases.

The problems behind willful

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