The Strong-Willed Child
In a favorite comic strip, a little boy tells his Dad, “You’ll never be as smart as me Dad. Back when God built your brain…he was using older technology.” Pretty clever, huh? Probably hits home for many adults who rely on younger children to tweak their websites, blog posts and download all kinds of materials that seem beyond older antiquated computer competencies.
There’s another aspect of this cartoon that I like to focus on: How is this kid wired? What is his personality style? Not hard to guess if you are familiar with the DISC personality profile. Sounds like a ‘D’ profile to me. Often represented as a lion or an eagle, here are some words to describe them: determined, decisive, demanding, takes charge, bold, self-reliant, independent, confident, direct, competitive, challenges the status quo. In a word, strong-willed. Sound like anyone in your house? in your classroom?
If so, I bet you are wondering how you can create a climate that promotes peace while still ensuring success for the ‘D’ wired child. Here are a few recommendations:
Celebrate their unique qualities. The same characteristics that make them a challenge to parents and teachers, can also be traits that put them in charge of their own corporation or make them the next president of the country. Find ways to channel that talent into productive pursuits. What can they be in charge of at home? In the community? in the classroom? If you can pique their interest and develop in them a passion for excellence in a productive arena, you will make your job as a parent much easier.
Provide challenges. Give a challenge as well as some control and choices in order to get their best cooperation. Create room to not only grow but fail when necessary. ‘D’ wired children especially need to learn that there are consequences to their behavior. Crystal clear boundaries, preferably written down, so they know your expectations will be essential. The more you can encourage ownership of the situation, the better will be their cooperation and participation.
Teach them to take ownership of problems: Whenever possible, let them resolve their challenges and problems while providing helpful insights through conversations. Here are some good questions to ask:
- What would you like to see happen?
- What could you do that would help?
- What would you like to do about that?
- What does your heart tell you to do?
Develop Empathy for Others. ‘D’ wired children are not naturally sensitive to the feelings of others. Instead they tend to focus on the the task at hand. Help them recognize how their behavior and words affect others. Ask them, “How do you think he felt when you said that?” “How would you feel if someone treated you like that?” Teach them how to express compassion and to work from a servant’s heart while accomplishing their goals.
How Are You Wired?
Your own personality profile often determines the type of struggles you may have with the ‘D’ wired child.:
- If you happen to be a ‘D’ wired parent or teacher, there is the possibility of power struggles as you both vie for control. Be firm but consistent, avoiding threats and ultimatums. Because you both can be equally determined, this can be a powerful combination if you are both focused on similar goals.
- If you happen to be an ‘ I’ wired parent you may need to focus on establishing rules and clear expectations, while following through with consequences and discipline. However, as a natural at relationships and encouragement of others, you can be a great role model for the ‘D’ child who may need to develop some people skills.
- If your own wiring is the ‘S’ personality profile, you will need to visit the ‘D’ traits in order to maintain control and teach her to recognize and respect authority other than her own. Be firm and consistent. As someone who is sensitive to emotions, you are in a good position to teach the ‘D’ wired child to develop similar skills.
- Finally, ‘C’ wired parents may need to give their ‘D’ wired child some responsibility while refraining from stepping in when their own perfectionist goals aren’t met. Keep in mind that while ‘D’ wired children are similarly task oriented, their pace is faster and less exacting than the reserved ‘C’ wired individual.