WT 121: How Do I Parent My "Red" Strong- Willed Child?

Resources Mentioned in this Episode:

Mom Core

Personality Plus for Parents by Florence Littauer

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Those strong-willed kiddos - phew! We know they'll be leaders one day, but what do we do TODAY when they won't listen or are constantly pushing back against us?

On Wire Talk today Karen and Sunny take questions all about these strong personalities; how do we effectively discipline them? How do we establish our authority without crushing their spirits? How do we teach them to harness their innate confidence without being aggressive or coming across as a bully?  We hope this conversation gives you a few tools to parent your headstrong children with confidence.

Question 1: I have a VERY strong willed dominant RED 4th born (I’m a red-blue so I don’t back down!) He often will use potty words and speak unkindly to others. He is disciplined (by various means) but will continue to misbehave. I actually just tried an opposite approach by looking for ways to catch him being kind and earning stars for a little prize. It seems to be working better! Hallelujah! The kid will do great things (one day!).  I just want hope that this won’t last forever! It’s hard not to feel like a failure of a mom sometimes especially when I’m worn down and let something go that probably needed to be acted on.

Karen's Answer: The Red temperament wants to be in control and they control by anger. But, the good news with the Reds are they love credit and appreciation for their work, so that makes sense that the star chart is working.  Honestly, I think with the Red, once you give them something to control, and start playing towards their strengths they will be a great child.  I have two reds, and once you understand them and start speaking their Red language it gets a lot better. Your son will always be a Red, but you can teach him how to tame it down a bit.  Keep giving your son things to excel at doing and he will move mountains. The four emotional needs he has a red are :

  • Loyalty

    1. Sense of Control

    2. Appreciation

    3. Credit for Work


Question 2: What advice do you have regarding parenting a strong willed child without crushing their spirit? My daughter is two and I reward positive behaviors and most of the time that works,  but what about the days when the positive behavior is few and far between?

Karen's Answer:  With a strong willed child the best thing is to be consistent, and continually show her you are the boss.  You can praise her opinions, and admire her spunk, but mom is the boss.  On the days she is not minding as well, try and speak words of truth into her like, “I know you have a sweet and obedient heart, will you please help mommy pick up your toys.” Then praise her.


Question 3: How do you plant seeds for your children to obey others? We have a hard time with our stronger personality child and her wanting everything to be the same when we aren’t home and someone is filling in for us. Fortunately we have an awesome sitter who gets it and lays down the law but not everyone is that way and I want her to learn that people do things differently.

Karen's Answer: Just keep teaching her that when mom and dad leave, the person you’ve hired to be the sitter is the one in charge.  Do your best at hiring sitters that are like the one you have who understands your child and can be firm.  Honestly, this concept of respecting authority and obeying takes a while to teach. Don’t give up.


Question 4:  I’d love help with raising two “red” toddler girls! What advice can you offer to start them off in the direction they need to go to be confident but not aggressive/bullying young women?

Karen's Answer: Teach that very concept at an early age.  Point out the them when they are being aggressive or when they get angry because people aren’t agreeing with them`.  Teach them how to be a good leader, not a dictator.  I had two Reds, and at times it was challenging. But, I kept at it because I wanted my daughters to be liked by their peers, and friends don’t like to be bossed around. Don’t give up on the Reds. I know they can push our buttons, but play to their strengths, not their weaknesses.  

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