Sunday, December 10, 2023

Parenting strong-willed teens and tweens

Dr. Bridget “Dr. B” Melson, MFT, PsyD.

by Dr. Bridget “Dr. B” Melson, MFT, PsyD.

Have a tough teen? Argumentative? Always questioning authority? Tests your boundaries and rules? Here are some tips on how to successfully handle these types of “spirited” teens and tweens:

We need to first understand what is truly at the center of their heart—and that is passion, hypersensitivity to their surroundings and a sense of right and wrong and justice. There is hope. We just need to change our focus and perspective.

What is Strong-Willed Behavior About?

  • Control
  • Independence
  • A Misplaced and Misunderstood Sense of Right and Wrong (Justice)
  • Not Coping due to not feeling understood

These tough-as-nails kids need our help and although raising a strong-minded and strong-willed child is the toughest job on this planet, if you get it right, the rewards will be incredible. It is going to be a long haul and it will take consistency in parenting and partnering with your spouse, but with God “all things are possible,” even when raising what I call “Warriors of Justice”—and that is exactly what they are. YOU were chosen to raise this child, get to it!

Strong-Willed Parent Tools

  • Empower vs. Enable—find doors of opportunity where they can succeed and use their gifting
  • Lean IN with LOVE
  • Point out their positive behaviors, no matter how small
  • Let natural CONSEQUENCES happen
  • Let them know they’re using their gifting wrong—these kids turn out to be lawyers, politicians, counselors and leaders in various areas. Teach them to use their strong-willed gifting for good and give them opportunities to do so.
  • Don’t take their behavior personally—instead ASK them questions about why they feel so strongly about this or that—these are our social justice warriors
  • Allow them to feel the discomfort of their choices—this is the only way to break the will and not their spirit

Honestly, knowing when to walk away and let them sit in their choices is the best thing you can do for them. But come back and let them know how much they are loved and how gifted they are. Help steer them towards using their gift and talents for GOOD and give them an opportunity to do so.

Spend quality time with them, listen to them and make sure they are active both in mind and body and be consistent with your rules and boundaries.

Keep fighting the good fight! Call anytime with questions if you have a strong-willed teen or tween—we can help.

If you have any questions or teen and parenting counseling needs, visit me at or call 940-489-3050.

CTG Staff
CTG Staff
The Cross Timbers Gazette News Department

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