Whether as kids, or as adults, we are wired to keep ourselves safe. 

The problem is that for those of us with strong-willed children, they may trigger internal programming in our safety warning system that means we don’t always make the best choices in the moment.

The challenge comes between reacting to the triggers, as opposed to responding to the situation.  


The opportunity – parenting the strong-willed child

For those of us who are parenting that strong-willed child, that child who challenges your very being, there is an opportunity to learn how to become more vulnerable with them, so that they can connect in a wholehearted way with us.

 To become more confident in interacting with our child, it really helps to understand ourselves  and our children in a way that enables us to identify what behaviours are intrinsic to their identity.   While separating which ones could be them adapting in order to cope and feel safe.

If you are like me, where I was both the strong-willed child, as well as the mother of a strong-willed child, there were the initial triggers. What I mean is, when my child behaved in ways that got me into trouble as I child, I would react the way my body was programmed according to the meanings I had created then.  Until I learned to accept my child as he was, instead of wishing he was easier.

The truth is, that in those moments, our self-described strong-willed child just has different priorities to us.  It’s really a misnomer to call them strong-willed, because human instinct should be strong.  It’s actually their willingness to fight for themselves.

Flip the perspective.


When you flip the perspective from feeling like you need to win, or be in charge, and accept that your child’s need is to feel seen and heard, it becomes a whole different interaction.

One of the things that really hit my core as I was learning about these human behaviour tendencies, is that if we are fighting to win our way over a child, chances are it’s our inner child in charge.

For the emotionally mature adult, they are not threatened by the actions and words of a child because they know that it’s only the child’s instinct working to keep them safe.

The concept that as an adult, we might be emotionally immature can trigger our own inner defences.  That then becomes an opportunity. 

Just like any other time our spidy senses are triggered, is to use our adult brain, the thinking brain and check in.  What is this really about?

When we can put aside judgement, justification and defensiveness, we can then BE present to our child.  Really wholeheartedly with them for them.

It’s easy to blame

It’s easy to blame our child for not doing as we asked. 

 However, that is really a fundamental misunderstanding of how our relationship is supposed to operate.  What’s more, it’s technically an abuse of power.  (yes, I know we need to guide them.  It’s accepting we are not just bigger and stronger, our role is also meant to be Wiser and Kinder)

It’s acknowledging that it’s natural for us to be frustrated, it’s still our responsibility to treat our child with the level of respect we’d like in return.

Far too many adults get this the wrong way around, and then wonder why they experience such disconnection and mistrust from their children.


The more we accept our children as they are, the easier our parent/child relationship can become.

As a behaviour profiler, one of the best tools in developing a deep level of confidence in our parenting decisions is to understand our child in a way that allows us to determine, how much of what my child is doing is intrinsically their personal style, and therefore, what is the best approach to support them gain the skills THEY need, so that they navigate the world in functional and effective ways.

I wish I had the knowledge I have now when my kids were growing up, and I could have been an even better mum.  Supporting them then to understand and accept themselves as they are, rather than the feeling of not good enough that seems to happen for many of us.


If you’d like to gain more insight in going from

conflict to connection so that you can parent with confidence.

Let’s connect for a

complimentary DISCovery session

to get started on creating even more harmony at home.


Author – Leanne G Wakeling – Relationship and Communication Coach, Parenting Mentor, Behaviour and Thinking Styles Profiler.