Parent Coaching for Disruptive Behaviors in Children: Managing the Strong-Willed Child

Lisa Konick, PhD
Lisa Konick, PhD
October 2, 2023
Parent Coaching for Disruptive Behaviors in Children: Managing the Strong-Willed Child

Parenting can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but it also comes with its fair share of challenges, especially when dealing with a strong-willed child. These children are often characterized by their determination, independence, and, at times, disruptive behaviors. In such situations, parents may find themselves in need of guidance and support to navigate this complex terrain. This is where parent coaching, rooted in strategies like those found in “Parenting the Strong-Willed Child” can be a valuable resource.

Understanding the Strong-Willed Child

Before diving into parent coaching techniques, it’s essential to understand what it means to have a strong-willed child. Strong-willed children tend to possess the following traits:

  • Determination: They are often very firm in their decisions and preferences.
  • Independence: They strive to assert their autonomy from a young age.
  • High energy: These children often have an abundance of energy and can be quite enthusiastic.
  • Persistence: They don’t give up easily, even in the face of obstacles.
  • Sensitivity: They may be more emotionally intense and prone to frustration.

While these traits can be seen as strengths, they can also lead to disruptive behaviors if not channeled effectively. Parent coaching offers strategies to help parents harness these qualities positively.

The Role of Parent Coaching

Parent coaching is a dynamic process that empowers parents to develop effective strategies for addressing their child’s disruptive behaviors. It provides a safe and non-judgmental space for parents to explore their concerns, develop new skills, and ultimately improve their relationship with their strong-willed child.

“Parenting the Strong-Willed Child” by Rex Forehand and Nicholas Long is a well-regarded resource in the field of parent coaching. It offers practical insights and strategies for parents facing the unique challenges of raising strong-willed children. Let’s delve into some of the key principles and techniques from the book that can help parents navigate disruptive behaviors:

  • Understanding Your Child’s Perspective: One of the fundamental principles of parent coaching is to empathize and see the world from your child’s viewpoint. Recognize that their strong-willed nature may be a way of asserting themselves or coping with their emotions.
  • Positive Reinforcement: Instead of focusing on punishment for negative behaviors, emphasize positive reinforcement for desired behaviors. Praise and rewards can motivate your child to exhibit better conduct.
  • Consistency: Consistency in parenting is key. Set clear boundaries and consequences for disruptive behaviors, and ensure that both parents are on the same page regarding discipline and expectations.
  • Active Listening: Parent coaching encourages parents to actively listen to their child’s concerns and feelings. This validates their emotions and fosters better communication.
  • Effective Communication: Teach your child effective communication skills. Encourage them to express their thoughts and feelings in a healthy way, rather than resorting to tantrums or defiance.
  • Problem-Solving Skills: Teach your child problem-solving skills to help them navigate challenges independently. This empowers them to find solutions instead of acting out.
  • Self-Care for Parents: Parenting a strong-willed child can be emotionally taxing. Parent coaching emphasizes the importance of self-care for parents to manage stress and maintain a healthy family environment.

The Role of a Behavioral Psychologist

While parent coaching can provide invaluable insights and strategies, sometimes, disruptive behaviors in strong-willed children may require additional expertise. A behavioral psychologist can play a crucial role in the following ways:

  • Assessment: A psychologist can conduct a thorough assessment of the child’s behavior, identifying underlying issues that may be contributing to disruptive behaviors.
  • Tailored Strategies: They can develop customized strategies and interventions based on the child’s specific needs and the family’s dynamics.
  • Parent Training: Behavioral psychologists can provide specialized parent training to equip parents with advanced skills for managing and modifying their child’s behavior effectively.
  • Monitoring Progress: Psychologists can closely monitor the progress of interventions and make adjustments as necessary, ensuring that strategies remain effective.
  • Emotional Support: They can offer emotional support to parents, helping them cope with the challenges of raising a strong-willed child and fostering a positive parent-child relationship.


Parenting a strong-willed child is a unique journey that requires patience, understanding, and effective strategies. Combining parent coaching with the expertise of a behavioral psychologist can provide a comprehensive and highly effective approach. With this dual support system, parents can gain a deeper understanding of their child’s behavior, acquire the necessary tools to manage disruptive behaviors positively, and ultimately create a nurturing environment for their strong-willed child to thrive. Remember that seeking professional guidance is a sign of strength, and it can make a significant difference in your family’s life. By fostering understanding, empathy, and effective communication, parents can help their strong-willed children grow into confident, capable individuals who use their determination and independence positively.

Konick and Associates has behavioral therapists that provide parents with the skills and supports to effectively address their child’s strong-willed nature while promoting esteem and confidence in both parents and their children. Contact our office to schedule an appointment with a child behavioral specialist today!

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