Let’s imagine you’re seven years old and you’re busy building the greatest fort that has ever been constructed in the history of the universe. Your mom comes over and asks you to put your shoes on because it’s time to pick up your sister from dance class. Naturally, you say, “I don’t want to go right now.”
Ignoring your genius innovation, your mom responds, “There is no one to stay with you here and we can’t be late to pick up your sister, honey.”
You make your case more obvious by pointing to your construction and elaborating, “Um, Mom, I’m building something right now, and I’m old enough to stay here by myself.”
“Not yet, sweetie,” she says softly.
You’re left with no option. While she’s pulling out your shoes, you make a call and then turn to your mom and say, “It’s OK, I called the babysitter… She’ll be here soon.”
Your mom mumbles something about you testing her patience and having a strong will. You didn’t want to test anything—you just wanted to build your fort!
If you have a strong will, it’s true you might test the patience of those who care for you. You might want to do things for yourself instead of having grown-ups showing you how to do them. In order to make your point, you sometimes say or do things that may hurt the feelings of those you love. You’re not trying to make anyone feel bad, you’re just trying to do your thing!
If you’re a child with a strong will, flexibility and active listening will be skills you’ll want to master in order to forge strong relationships. But you should also remember you have some incredible superpowers. Here are 11 of them...
1. You are mentally tough
You don’t give up easily. When other people quit because they think they can’t win, you dig in your heels and stay focused on the goal. As legendary basketball star Bill Russell once said, “Concentration and mental toughness are the margins of victory.”
2. You aren’t swayed by peer pressure
Many kids give in to peer pressure because they don’t know what they truly want. You, on the other hand, know exactly what you want and go after it regardless of what other people think. You are not easily swayed by the opinions of others.
3. You are a future entrepreneur
As it turns out, kids who challenge the status quo become adults who have the upper hand when it comes to starting a new business. Entrepreneurs don’t succeed by simply following the rules, they tend to push boundaries and look for creative solutions to a problem.
4. You learn through experience
Some kids will stop spinning in circles when their mom tells them they will get dizzy and fall down. You need to spin until you see that happen for yourself! Chances are, if an adult stops you from doing it, you won’t believe it anyway. The same thing goes for skydiving or changing careers or starting a business when you get older. The drive to know how and why things work will translate well into taking calculated risks in adulthood.
5. You get back up after you fall
Once you decide on a goal, there is nothing that will stop you from achieving it… Even failure. Resilience is a characteristic that will come in handy as you become more practiced at goal-setting. You won’t believe others when they tell you a task is impossible, you will test every boundary until you either find a solution or figure out for yourself that it truly is impossible. You will leap hurdles over and over, and persist.
6. You are great at making decisions quickly
You usually know exactly what you want. Maybe that means knowing what toy you want to play with at this precise moment. As you build on your experiences, your decision making will become more sound and no less rapid, leaving time to use your critical and creative thinking skills.
7. You are a self-starter
You are self-motivated. This means you don’t have to be poked and prodded to work on something that interests you. If you are into math, chances are your parents and teachers will never have to fight you to do math homework. You will likely delve into deep research about the subjects you love.
8. You are on track for success
A recent study shows that rule breaking and defiance, characteristics often seen in strong-willed children, actually gives them an edge to succeed financially as adults. Researchers explain, “Rule breaking and defiance of parental authority was the best non-cognitive predictor of higher income after accounting for IQ, parental socio-economic status, and educational attainment.” They go on to say, “We might assume that students who scored high on this [rebellious] scale might earn a higher income because they are more willing to be more demanding during critical junctures, such as when negotiating salaries or raises.”
9. You have great integrity
C.S. Lewis said, “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.” You have integrity in spades. People believe you when you make a stand, because you have a reputation for telling it like it is and sticking to your word.
10. You challenge those around you
You relentlessly question the rules you are asked to follow and those who create them. While this may test the patience of the adults in your life, it challenges them to reflect inwardly. In order to connect with you and your unique outlook on the world, they must cultivate greater patience and empathy.
11. You are passionate about life!
You are courageous, lively, and full of boundless energy that sometimes threatens to explode out of your body. While you may not know how to handle all of those big emotions now, you can learn from those around you. Your parents and caretakers will help guide you to experience these extra-large feelings in healthy, constructive ways.
P.S. To the parents of these strong-willed kids... Remember, you’re doing a great job, too.