Cynthia Tobias was on Focus on the Family today talking about the strong-willed child, coming from the experience of being the strong-willed child-and-now-adult. Very interesting talk so far- the second part of the talk will be aired tomorrow.
Even if you are not a parent blessed with raising one of these precious kids or you do not have kids at all, keep reading. This is very good stuff.
During her speech, Tobias gave a list of 12 traits. She then gave a loose assessment by how many times one said, “yes, that’s me!” to those traits. Here they are [SWC= strong-willed child]:
1. SWC almost never accepts words like “impossible” or phrases like “it can’t be done.”
2. SWC can move with lightning speed from being a warm, loving presence to being a cold, immovable force.
3. SWC may argue the point into the ground sometimes just to see how far into the ground the point will go.
4. SWC, when bored, has been known to create a crisis rather than have a day go by without incident.
5. SWC considers rules to be more like guidelines- as long as you’re abiding by the spirit of the law, why are you being so picky?
6. SWC shows great creativity and resourcefulness- seems to always find a way to accomplish the goal.
7. SWC can turn what seems to be the smallest issue into a grand crusade or a raging controversy.
8. SWC doesn’t do things just because you’re supposed to- has to matter personally.
9. SWC refuses to obey unconditionally- seems to always have a few terms of negotiation before complying.
10. SWC is not afraid to try the unknown- conquer the unfamiliar.
11. SWC can take what was meant to be the simplest request and interpret it as an offensive ultimatum.
12. SWC may not actually say the words to apologize but almost always makes things right.
0-3: very nice people- easy to get along with- has strong will but doesn’t use it much.
4-7: uses strong will when need to but not on a daily basis.
8-10: starting into troublemaker category.
11-12: these are the troublemakers- do not leave home without strong will – almost impossible not to use it.
I knew it- I scored an 11. It is confirmed; I am a troublemaker. Care to guess which one isn’t me?
My mom- bless her heart- can attest to my strong will. Well, both of my parents and my brother can attest to it but Mom certainly caught/catches the hard side of it. Our personalities clash very well and yet I believe that God gave me to the perfect mother to raise me up. Even in our clashing, there have been moments when Mom’s personality led her to do the exact thing I needed in order to be set in the right direction.
I remember being 8 years old, at the park across the street with Mom and Bro. I did not want to learn to ride a bike without training wheels and Mom refused to put the trainers back on. I refused to get on the bike. Finally, Mom had enough and walked back to the house, leaving Bro standing there with a crying stubborn little sis and a bike.
Bro had an opening to be my soft spot to land on and took it. He gave me a few moments to compose myself. Then he gently urged me back on the bike, held the seat until I found my balance, and I learned how to ride on my own power.
I probably would not be riding any bike at all today if Mom’s strong will had not kicked in at the ripe moment. I would say that Mom would probably score between a 5-8/8.5 on the earlier trait assessment scale. If she did not have a strong will of her own and used it often herself, on me, I would have thrown more tantrums [but she nipped that in the bud early on], I would have continually broken curfew [if she had given me one to break], I would be doing who-knows-what today.
Tobias said something significant, that I very much relate to, about SWCs and authority. She said that the SWC is not about rebellion. SWCs recognize authority; authority is not the problem. How that authority is communicated is where one will run into problems with the SWC.
Things might have been so much easier for Mom if she could have known this some 30 years ago. I completely agree with Tobias’ assessment because I respect that there is authority. I support there being someone or some agency in authority. How one works the position in authority is a different thing.
And another thing to pique one’s curiosity about Tobias’ speech is how she explains that the strong will is an asset, not a liability. Having a strong will is not a negative trait.
Even if you do not have children, if you are single, unless you are living on a farm somewhere with just your chickens and cows, you should listen to Tobias’ broadcast or read her book. It is not just about raising a child; it will be informational for you to have an idea of how the strong-willed employee/friend/ parent/ fill-in-the-blank thinks and what would be the best response or attitude towards the strong-willed person.
Well, if you would like to get somewhere with the strong-willed person that is. You are welcome to continue butting heads with them instead. Maybe you are a strong-willed person as well. Hmmm?
Thank you for reading and tune in to Focus on the Family’s broadcast of Cynthia Tobias.