Parenting an Intelligent but Willful Child

Do you always feel confident as a parent? Or, have you ever had the feeling that your child is smarter than you are? Do you find yourself arguing with him and he is running mental circles around you?

Have you asked yourself the question: How do I parent my intelligent but willful child?

Well, there is no need for fear, shame or self-doubt. Your child, no matter how bright he may be, or thinks she is, has less wisdom, less maturity, and less experience than you have.

If you are ever tempted to doubt yourself as a parent, remember: God has selected you for this child and he needs your guidance.

Children will manipulate if they can.

Take note: No matter how clever your bright child argues, you have the wisdom of the God who is the Creator of the Universe, you have the maturity that life’s responsibilities has given you, and you have years of life experience, all of which trump your child’s abilities. And lest there be any arrogance attached to his/her abilities, remember: these are God-given gifts for God’s purposes.

My nine-year-old son, who is bright, tends towards seeking control. This is his primary weakness and he regrets arguing, manipulating and dictating. Although he is changing slowly, his attempts at tyranny continue.

If I argue with him, we get nowhere. My authority comes, not from winning debate, but from my confidence and my role. Direct confrontation does not work.

Remaining detached from my emotions – ignoring how he can wind me up, for example – weakens his attempts to draw me into argument. And teaching him right from wrong and fearlessly drawing from God’s Word convicts him, provokes him to think, and removes authority from his debate. We have discussed the first commandment with a promise: “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.” (Exodus 20:12)

Does your child seem to have somehow, in her intelligent mind, come to believe she who wins the argument is right? Instead, when I keep a sunny face, don’t get riled, and stand firm on consequences, I seem to be keeping me sane and to be helping her to learn her place.

In my case, perhaps because he’s growing up as an only child, it’s easier for him to remain self-centred. As his parents, my husband and I have sometimes substituted ourselves as the siblings he needs to play with and negotiate with during game playing. Maybe this good intention has blurred the boundaries for him. Or perhaps he’s just predisposed to being a dictator.

The key is, he’s loved, he knows it and is gradually learning that growing up means giving love as well as receiving it, and that intelligence is a responsibility, not a mechanism for winning and getting one’s own way. It mustn’t be easy being 9 in a world of adults!

But neither is it easy being the parent of a quick and determined child.

A lot of prayer goes into raising a child. And the child God gives you will be a challenge, especially as you want her to grow into the person God has created her to be.

God has given you this child, and you are the ideal parent for him. God chose you, just as he chose Moses to lead His people into the Promised Land. Moses had doubts about himself and so might you. But as you stand fast, avoid head-butting competition, and trust that God has provided you with the gifts and abilities needed to raise a God-loving, God-fearing, respectful child, you will prepare your son or daughter for all life brings.

“Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he grows up he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

For I have told him [Ely] that I will judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knows, because his sons made themselves vile, and he did not restrain them. 14 And therefore I have sworn to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever.” 1 Samuel 3:13-14 (bold = mine)

There is plenty of scripture that will help your child to feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit, and will teach her the path she should go. Age appropriate theological input is one component that God provides for us as parents to use, to help our children learn and draw closer to God, and stay close to family. See in particular, Colossians 3:12: Clothe yourselves therefore, as God’s own chosen ones (His own picked representatives), [who are] purified and holy and well-beloved [by God Himself, by putting on behavior marked by] tenderhearted pity and mercy, kind feeling, a lowly opinion of yourselves, gentle ways, [and] patience [which is tireless and long-suffering, and has the power to endure whatever comes, with good temper]”

Here is input from SENG (supporting emotional needs of the gifted).

See you next month, 1st December. In the meantime, if you found this helpful, would you consider sharing it with a friend? I’d like to expand the readership network for Life from the Lighthouse.

And why not send in a comment or anecdote of your own particular experience, so that others can benefit from your insight and experience. For, ‘How good and pleasant it is when brethren dwell together in unity.’ Psalm 133


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About Larus Press

LARUS PRESS is a Christian-based ministry that publishes books, blogs and other written material. Our mission is to inspire and empower believers, to deepen their spiritual growth and to fulfill their unique identity and purpose. We accomplish this through written material, which reflects and illuminates Biblical truths. Subscribe to the free weekly newsletter Soaring Post at The primary purpose of Larus Press is to encourage, enrich, enable, educate and equip readers for the purposes to which God has called them. "Larus" is Latin for gull - a symbol of survival and freedom. Larus Press offers promotions and advertising to self-published authors with missions compatible to ours. On-line prayer counseling, speaking engagements are just a part of what Larus Press offers. Sarah Tun's Books on Larus Press: FREE TO BE (in collaboration with Essence Publishing) is a personal growth book, a guide to inspire readers to find their self-esteem through personal reflection, prayer and a deepening relationship with the Holy Spirit. Find it on Amazon ( or ) and Smashwords ( ). The preschool book THE FAITHFUL PRINCE inspires families to encourage children to walk out their budding faith with courage and confidence (release date 1st June 2014)

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