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11 characteristics of a strong-willed child (&how their characteristics will shape their future positively)

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If you have a strong-willed child, you probably know it. They are the ones who always seem to test the limits and push boundaries.

And if you are raising a strong-willed child, I feel you! Because I have two too.

You might be having endless arguments with your kid explaining why you want them to eat more protein (and they hate meat and milk) or why you can’t let them watch that Youtube channel.

The intense arguments can often leave you tired and make you want to let a good cry out. Because you still can’t figure out if your parenting is wrong or whether the child is growing up with an undesirable personality. 

If you keep wondering what’s wrong, welcome to the world of strong-willed children!

In other words, the spirited ones!

They are determined, stubborn, and unyielding in their opinions and beliefs. They can be challenging to parent, but on the bright side, they are also often the ones who grow up to be successful and independent adults.

This article will help you understand the characteristics of a strong-willed child, what they want, and what drives each behavior of them. And how these characteristics will shape their future positively. 

11 Characteristics of a Strong-Willed Child

1. Strong-willed children are determined

Strong-willed children are often very determined and persistent in pursuing what they want to do no matter what you or anyone else says. They have a strong sense of purpose and desire and are not easily deterred by obstacles or setbacks. 

This can be a positive trait as it can lead to success and achievement, but it can also be challenging for parents or caregivers to manage at times.

Because of their determination, strong-willed children may be more likely to take on challenges and push themselves to achieve their goals. They may also be more willing to try new things and take risks, even if it means facing failure or rejection.

How will this impact them positively: This trait can lead to great accomplishments and a strong sense of achievement as they do not back out easily. 

2. Strong-willed kids are independent

Strong-willed children are often very independent and self-reliant. They have a strong sense of self and are not easily swayed by the opinions or actions of others. They tend to be very confident and self-assured and are not afraid to take risks or try new things.

Because of their independent nature, strong-willed children may resist authority or rules that they feel are unnecessary or unjust. They may also be more likely to challenge the status quo and question traditional ways of thinking or doing things.

How will this impact them positively: This independence can foster creativity, critical thinking, and the ability to make informed decisions.

a girl climbing rocks

3. Spirited kids are opinionated

Strong-willed children have this characteristic of being opinionated and have strong beliefs about what they think is right or wrong. They are not afraid to express their opinions and may be very vocal about their thoughts and feelings.

They may also be more likely to stand up for themselves or others when they feel that someone is being mistreated or treated unfairly.

How will this impact them positively: Expressing opinions allows children to develop confidence in their own ideas and beliefs. They learn to communicate their thoughts with conviction, which enhances their self-esteem and assertiveness.

Children who are opinionated often exhibit leadership qualities too. They are more likely to take initiative, voice their ideas, and inspire others. Their ability to confidently express their opinions can lead to opportunities for leadership roles and foster skills such as effective communication and persuasion.

4. Strong-willed kids are assertive

Strong-willed children are often very assertive and confident in expressing their needs and desires. They have a strong sense of self and are not afraid to speak up for themselves or others when they feel that something is not right.

How will this impact them positively: Because of their assertiveness, strong-willed children may be more likely to take charge of situations and make decisions for themselves. They may also be more likely to stand up to bullies or speak out against injustice.

a boy looking arrogantly

5. Strong-willed kids have intense emotions

Another sign you’re raising a strong-willed child is that they are often too emotional and passionate about their feelings and experiences. They may feel things more intensely than others and may have a hard time regulating their emotions at times. 

Because of their emotional nature, strong-willed children may be more likely to express their feelings in a very intense and sometimes dramatic way. 

Hence, you can expect intense anger and outbursts from them. 

How will this impact them positively: Though it’s frustrating to you as a parent, having intense emotions have many benefits. Those with intense emotions can become empathetic adults who can understand the feelings of others. This helps them to foster compassion, kindness, and the ability to support and relate to others.

When they feel strongly about something, they are more likely to invest their energy and effort into pursuing their interests and goals. This can lead to the development of perseverance, determination, and a strong sense of purpose.

They also have heightened self-awareness. They are more attuned to their own feelings, needs, and experiences. This self-awareness can contribute to personal growth, self-reflection, and the development of emotional intelligence.

6. Strong-willed kids value their personal autonomy very much

They value their freedom to decide their matters and hate to have no choice or say in matters important to them. 

For strong-willed kids, personal autonomy means having control over their own lives and decisions. They want to be able to make their own choices, set their own goals, and pursue their own interests.

They want to be in charge of themselves – be it activities, time, or choices. They are not content to simply follow the rules or expectations set by others but instead want to forge their own path and create their own destiny.

If they don’t want to do something, it can be incredibly hard to convince them otherwise. 

This desire for personal autonomy can sometimes lead to conflicts with authority figures, such as parents or teachers, who may have different ideas about what is best for the child.

Strong-willed kids can be stubborn and resistant to being told what to do, which can make it challenging for adults to guide and support them. And their stubbornness can be a source of power struggles between you and them because they want what they want.

How will this impact them positively: Their self-assurance and self-reliance can cultivate a sense of responsibility, self-discipline, and the ability to take ownership of their actions and choices.

a mom talking to a boy and he is sitting turning his back on her

7. Strong-willed children can argue strongly

Strong-willed children are often very articulate and confident in expressing their opinions and beliefs. They may argue their point of view strongly and passionately, sometimes even to the point of being confrontational or argumentative. 

And also, they want to know the why of everything. Parenting a strong-willed child requires having answers for everything. 

Ok, why should I regulate my screen time?

Why should I do the chores?

Why does she get it and I don’t?

These are some of the questions you can expect to hear from them when all you want is to raise a responsible and nice kid.

And just when you think you have won an argument, they might come up with the same argument the next day because they want to do the things they want to do.

It’s a vicious cycle and as a parent, you would need to come up with either boundaries or relaxation in the rules after discussing with them (only if you think you can be okay with it). And this is why meeting them in the middle is important. You can make sure their needs and wants get the deserving priority and you get to implement what you think is right for them too. 

Dealing with a strong-willed child is an act of balancing. Balancing between deciding what is worth letting go, and what is worth investing your time and energy on. 

If they argue strongly, it’s because they are passionate about what they are fighting for. 

How will this impact them positively: Their unwavering commitment and enthusiasm can fuel their endeavors and lead to remarkable achievements in various areas of life.

8. Strong-willed children are impatient

Strong-willed children are often very impatient and may have a hard time waiting for things to happen or for others to catch up to their pace. They may become frustrated or upset when things don’t happen quickly enough or when they feel that others are holding them back.

Because of their strong will and determination, spirited children may be more likely to want things to happen on their own terms and may have a hard time accepting delays or setbacks. They may also be more likely to take risks or act impulsively in order to achieve their goals.

How will this impact them positively: Impatience cannot be considered a positive trait as such because life requires the ability to be patient too. But those who are impatient have a drive for action.

Impatience often stems from a desire for immediate results or progress. This can fuel a sense of urgency and motivate children to take action, pursue their goals, and make things happen. It can push them to be proactive and persistent in their endeavors.

Those who are impatient can be seen seeking quick solutions to problems and have the motivation to think creatively and find alternative approaches which are all great for developing problem-solving skills.

a toddler girl lying on the floor and is upset - strong-willed girl

9. Strong-willed children like to learn from their experiences

They are not content to simply follow the rules or do what they are told but instead prefer to learn from their own experiences and make their own choices.

It’s because once they have the will to do something, they must know how it feels to do that and it’s difficult for them if someone snatches away their opportunity to experience it. So they will keep pushing the limits and testing the boundaries for that control. It is exhausting, but parents can find a way around it. 

So, if your child wants to go to school without the raingear when there is a chance for a shower, you might have to let them experience it once to learn the consequence themselves. 

How will this impact them positively: The lessons learned from experiences are more likely to be imprinted in their minds deeply and more likely to help them choose between right and wrong in the future. 

Submissive children often rear resentment and regret in their minds about the things they didn’t get to do because someone told them not to do it. As a result, they are sometimes afraid to take action even if they feel it’s right for them. 

10. They want to be respected

Strong-willed kids crave personal autonomy more strongly as if their life depends on it. They can get very frustrated and emotional if they don’t get a say in their matters. They have strong opinions and viewpoints and they want to be respected for that. 

It is important for parents to show respect for their strong-willed child’s opinions and choices, even if they don’t always agree with them.

In my daughter’s case, I have seen it strongly as she has reached her tween years, she demands respect for her individuality, choices, and likes and dislikes more strongly than ever.

Well, it is right to demand respect even if your child is strong-willed or not. But in the case of strong-willed kids, you can feel it more strongly because many kids can be compliant and submissive and may not raise their voices for respect even if they crave it internally. 

How will this impact them positively: They will make sure that others know they are not to be messed with or treated lightly. They will always give themselves the due importance they deserve and thus gain respect from others too. 

a confident young girl smiling

11. They are less likely to give in to peer pressure

Since they are often known for their independent nature and their ability to stand up for themselves. This makes them less likely to give in to peer pressure than other children. 

The main reason is that they have their own opinions and beliefs and thus they are less likely to be swayed by what other kids think or want to do.

They don’t find the need to fit in as they have a high sense of self-worth and identity. And can often be seen sticking to their own values and beliefs rather than those of others. 

How will this impact them positively: They hold firm to their values and principles, which can develop into a strong moral compass and a commitment to integrity and justice.


A strong-willed child is not the same as a disobedient or difficult child. They are not “bad” kids, but rather children who are wired a bit differently, and many of the strong-willed characteristics can be converted into the child’s positive traits. They are often natural leaders and can be pretty persuasive when they want to be.

As you must have read, all the strong-willed child characteristics that you feel negative about can be seen in a positive light if you want to. 

But that doesn’t mean they don’t require guidance in navigating through their difficult traits or that they don’t need correction. With the proper training and the right amount of interference, you can channel their amazing traits into positive traits and wins. 

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