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on November 26, 2012
Overall I really liked this book. However, there is one key element I believe is missing, which I will come back to later.

The purpose for this book is to help parents learn to raise their strong-willed children. One thing I got out of this book, which I had not at all expected, was the understanding and realization that I myself was a "strong-willed child" and am still quite the strong-willed person. I'd never really recognized that about myself, because I've always been a generally compliant and submissive person, especially as a child, but this book showed me that being strong-willed is not necessarily about the outward behavior or a pattern of outward defiance. The more I read this book, the more I realized I was reading about myself.

Another thing I found in this book was that nearly all of the suggested parenting strategies are strategies I've already adopted and strive to keep, simply because I try to treat my children the way I myself would like to be treated. It's when I stray from those ideas (usually after being surrounded by ideas in the opposite direction) that my household becomes the most chaotic. One of the things about a SWC (strong-willed child) is that often, punishment backfires and results in a battle of wills. I know this is true for myself-if you try punishment to motivate me, my automatic response is to prove your punishment is not going to work, and as the author states several times, "There is nothing I have to do, except die, which I'm willing to do." I've found this to also be true for my children. I realized a long time ago that taking a mostly non-punitive stance in parenting tended to result in my daughters being far more compliant. It's not about "giving in" or being "permissive", it's about being more creative than punishment. The less I punish and the more I use other ways of teaching, the more peaceful everything is around here. One of my favorite things to point out is that "discipline" and "punishment" are not synonyms, and either can take place without the other.

Another thing about SWCs, in addition to the fact that punishment quickly results in a wall being built, is that the more external pressure there is on an SWC to change, the less they want to. SWCs thrive on their own internal pressure, and not the external pressure. The key to motivating an SWC is not to apply external pressure on them, but to help them build their own internal pressure toward a decision. Simply put, if the SWC doesn't want to do it, likely they won't. The most classic example of this is that of school. In fact, this book described my high school attitudes about school quite exactly. The more pressure there was on me to get good grades, the more I "proved" that I didn't "need" good grades. But when the pressure was off was when I was most likely to thrive. It was the teachers who never asked me why I didn't do my homework that I most wanted to impress, and my grades were always better in those classes.

The next item I think is important for parents to understand about SWCs is that, as the author states, it isn't authority that the SWC has a problem with, but the way in which authority is communicated. As I mentioned, I have an overall compliant and submissive personality, but my strong-will is triggered particularly when those in authority (or those who think they are in authority) try to communicate with me in the wrong way. Say the right thing in the wrong way, and my automatic response is to try to prove you wrong about it.

And that is where my problem with this book comes in. I think it is a great book for teaching parents how to communicate with and inspire their SWC to be more obedient, cooperative, and pleasant. As I stated, nearly everything this book suggested were things I already do as a parent, out of the understanding that these strategies are what would have motivated me more when I was a child. But what this book lacks is instructions for teaching the children to mature past their automatic, strong-willed to the point of stubborn, responses to the "wrong" type of communication. As the parent, it is my job to be the "bigger" person and try to communicate with my children in a way that won't trigger their wall of stubbornness and a battle of wills. But as the parent, it is also my job to teach my children to be the "bigger" person when someone else is provoking that response. It is my job to teach my children to recognize when they're having that automatic reaction to something another person said or did, and teach them to be able to step back and analyze whether or not it is the right response in that situation. Sometimes, it's a good response to have. There are things I believe it is good to be closed-minded about. Stubbornness, or a strong will, used correctly, can be a good thing. Other times, the strong-will can get in the way of wisdom, and it is my job as a parent to teach my children the difference. If you tell me a good idea, but you tell me in the wrong way and I react with stubbornness and a will to prove you wrong, that shows a lack of wisdom and maturity on my part, and will ultimately work to my detriment. This book didn't offer much (if anything?) on teaching children to recognize their natural strong-will responses, which I believe is very important. It's not enough that the parents recognize their child's strong-will personality-the child needs to recognize it also. Only then can the child see that "hey, this person is provoking my strong-will response," and take a moment to step back and analyze what the person is saying instead of how they are saying it. If the person is correct about what they are saying, even if abrasive in how they are saying it, the strong-willed individual needs to let go of the strong desire to prove them wrong. This is teaching the child wisdom and discernment, as well as humility.

Anyway, it was a good book, but I think it needed to go a little deeper. I would recommend it to parents who are really struggling with raising their strong-willed children, with the note that in my opinion, this book really just covers the basics. If the basics are what you need, this is an excellent book. If you're looking for more than that, you may want to look elsewhere.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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on October 5, 2012
Do you ever wonder if your child is strong-willed or just stubborn and defiant? While defiance can be seen as a heart issue, having a strong will can be quite beneficial in our world, if channeled properly. Being the parent to a strong-willed child is quite the challenge, but it doesn't have to be so frustrating that you want to throw up your hands and quit. Cynthia Tobias, parent of a strong-willed child herself, offers strategies and and tips to keep you from doing so as well as insight into the benefits of their strong will. As she states, "(your) child may change the world--after all, it's not likely that the world is going to change them"!

I ordered this book because I am the parent of a strong-willed child. I felt like I was reading a book written by some other mom about my child. I never realized that my child might feel as if I were taking all the power away from them or that they may not resent authority but may resent how that authority is communicated. I also felt like it was too late for me. After all, my children are both in their late teens. If you find yourself thinking the same thing, there is hope. Tobias offers strategies which will preserve your relationship with your child while also helping them to use that "gift" God has given them to accomplish great things. Like many parents, perhaps you may disagree with your spouse regarding how to deal with your child. Tobias has advise for these situations as well.

This book can easily be read in half a day making it something you can begin to put into practice immediately whether your child is a toddler, teen, or adult. Even if you feel you have blown it with your child, it isn't too late. To read the first chapter, check out [...]

I did receive this book free from Multnomah Press in exchange for an honest review. I was in no way obligated to leave a positive review.
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I've read a lot of parenting books. A lot. I have donated them ALL because, even though they may have had a couple gems of advice, they were mostly inapplicable. It seems like they fell into the categories of being 1)written by someone who didn't have kids with strong wills or didn't remember what it was like when their strong willed kids were young 2) full of super-specific suggestions that worked for their children, as if my kids are exactly the same 3) encourage either an extremely sympathetic and permissive parenting style or a very rigid and authoritative parenting style and (my personal pet peeve) 4) parenting books which are great at describing the problem/issue/behavior needing correction, but lacking any substantial suggestions for resolution. It makes me think: thanks for getting my interest by perfectly describing the personality/circumstance/situation/behavior I'm dealing with and wasting my time by not having any wisdom to share on the matter! (I often wonder if those authors wrote an entire book just to vent, which would be reasonable given the stresses of parenting, but then, please refrain from marketing the book as a useful resources to others.)

You Can't Make Me [But I Can Be Persuaded] by Cynthia Ulrich Tobias is not like any other parenting book I've ever read. I think the main difference is that the author isn't writing based only on personal experience and/or a college education or counseling career. Tobias has literally spoken to thousands of strong willed children (hereafter referred to as SWC) of varying ages and backgrounds. In essence, this book is like a compilation of the useful tips you can find scattered throughout many other bestselling parenting books.

I absolutely love that the tone of this book is positive and encouraging rather than critical. Woven throughout the book are reminders that a strong will in and of itself is not a negative trait and encouragement for parents to develop a loving relationship that their child will value. This book can equip a parent to start wherever they are now to build a positive future for their SWC in terms of relationship, responsibility, and sharing their talents with the world.

Tobias makes an effort to truly help you to understand how the mind of a SWC works so that you can not only resolve behavior issues, but restore relationship. (Let's face it, we can definitely harbor bitterness toward a child that outwardly seems to be defiant and rebellious.) She shares tips and insights for practical application for children from their toddler years all the way through adulthood. While some are age specific (preschool, elementary, teen, adult), most of the techniques apply across the board, so I would recommend this book to parents with SWC of any age.

On page 31, Tobias writes the following about dealing with the argumentative and almost impossible to motivate SWC, "Here's where it's especially important to remember a critical question: What's the point? Instead of going into endless detail, just cut to the chase-give your child the bottom line. Remember, you want bottom-line accountability, and that means your SWC doesn't call the shots on the end result; the compromise can come by allowing some flexibility in the method, not the outcome."

Throughout the book are many entertaining anecdotes that help you to understand which tactic can be useful at what time. If you're like me, these will make you both laugh (at some of the things kid's say and do...) and let out a sigh of relief (that your child isn't the only one who has acted/spoken this way)! I started trying the techniques for communication with my 5 year old son before even finishing the book & they really do work and deescalate the tense atmosphere that rears its ugly head far too often around here.

In the interest of full disclosure, I received a free copy of this book from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for the purpose of review. I didn't have to write a positive review, these opinions are mine.
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on November 30, 2015
This book was just what I needed. It's short and sweet. After a brief explanation of what a strong willed child is and how their minds work, it jumps right into practical strategies to use. The bottom line is making requests vs. demands. And I think that's easier to do once you understand why demands result in power struggles and conflict.

There were some parts that were too Christian for me, including a whole chapter about right vs. wrong, which addressed the Bible's commandment to obey parents. As an atheist, I just skipped those parts. The rest of the book was still very helpful.

I bought this book while reading it because I know it's one I will want to read again. There are some sections on dealing with older children and teens that I'd like to come back to when my son is a little older.

Now I just need my husband to read the key chapters (1-3, and 5), so we can be on the same page with our parenting style.

http://www.momsradius.com/2015/10/book-review-you-cant-make-me.html
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on June 7, 2016
I can see where this book would be excellent for parents of an older child (say 6+). It addresses ways of communicating with your strong willed child that would involve the child having a more mature mind and vocabulary to understand and work with. Unfortunately, my little boy is 3 years old, and the communication barrier is where I'm struggling with helping him with his emotional outbursts and impulses.
It's a short book, but well written, easy to follow, and could be VERY useful if your child is a bit older.
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on May 23, 2013
I have a 4 year old daughter who is having a rough time using her words when she is frustrated or trying to express herself..My wife and I just thought it was a normal 4 yr old reaction but the more i read this book i realized not only is my Daughter extremely stong willed but i realized she gets that from me..This book gives parents inciteful tips on curbing behaior issues or understanding that strong willed children act out when they feel they dont have a choice...very helpful
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on November 30, 2012
I was drawn to this book because I myself was a strong willed child and am now raising three strong willed children of my own. I appreciated and related to much of Tobias' advice. I enjoyed the book, but I also felt that I was on familiar ground as I read it.

In some ways the book reminded me of the Parenting With Love and Logic series. Choosing your battles, allowing choices, enforcing logical consequences, and explaining reasons for rules are all fairly standard parenting advice. I think the strongest parts of this book are where Tobias explains how she and other strong-willed children think. That glimpse into the mind of a strong-willed child is the part of the book I think may be most beneficial to parents.

One of the other things I appreciated about this book was the stress on maintaining the relationship with your child. At the end of the day, that's what matters. Your child needs to know you love them. If you've gotten that down, that's half the battle.

Overall, it's a good book. I'd recommend it to parents who want to learn more about how to motivate their strong willed child.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a quality review. All thoughts and feelings expressed are my own. I did not guarantee a positive review.
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on December 27, 2013
As I read this book, I began to wonder who was spying on my household. I have three Strong Willed Child (SWC) - my two children and my husband. I finally understand the issues we've been struggling with - and had to laugh out loud when I read the part about the author's son "firing" his twin brother, as my eldest is famous for firing his sister.

This book is filled with fabulous foundation information to help you understand what makes your child react to life in his/her unique way, helps you take a breath and realize it's not your fault and that you are doing the best you can, and provides sound strategies to help you mitigate the arguments, debates and negotiations that are part of your daily life with a SWC.

I read the book in two nights. The next day, I told my 7 year old I was going to start asking lots of questions. Intrigued, he asked for an example. So I said, I know you don't like brushing your teeth - but before we go to bed tonight I'd like you to brush them. Do you want to brush them now or wait until later? After saying he wanted to get it over with, he stated that these are his favorite kind if questions. I asked why. He said because he likes to have choices and not be forced to do things. Bingo. Exactly what the book explained.

The next night, we were wrapping Christmas presents together. My 7 year old was struggling and I offered to help. His response was "I want to do it my way." I immediately wanted to explain that I had lots of experience and tricks to show him ... but after reading the book I bit my tongue. I now realize how important it is to let them work out tasks "their way."

After reading the book and having two affirmations immediately afterwards, I feel optimistic about my ability to better manage my SWC and reduce the meltdowns and tempers that flare daily in our house. I am eternally grateful for the lessons learned and the strategies outlined.
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on May 26, 2015
Can't say enought about this book. I purchased audio book and over the past year and a half listened to it twice and I am planning to purchase a book just to have it - I love it so much. I listened to it first time when one of my twin boys was driving me crazy and I was recommended to see behavioral therapist several times when he was about 2 years of age. I did see a behavioral therapist who after observing him several times at my home said that he is just one stubborn 2 year old toddler. I purchased the audio book and was crying first time when I started listening to it. It was like the book is written about my son! More then that, I realized that I am myself a strong willed person (may be not to that extreme now as I am an adult and I can control my emotions and make myself think straight). It helped me to understand my son so much better, I stopped getting angry at him as I used to do, and I found a new ways to deal with his tantrums and stubbornness. Our relationship improved 100%. He goes though the stages when he starts testing the limits and being stubborn for several months, then he gets better and more obedient then then cycle repeats. He is three and a half now. I listened it second time when it got bad again just to remind myself why he does what he does and it helps me to keep cool. I keep telling him every night now that I love him unconditionally (and I do!). I learned to value his qualities as it may be hard on me right now, I know it will be his strength when he grows up :) if you have a child who is stubborn and pushing the limits and ddometimes makes you wander if there is something wrong with him - get this book and I hope it will make you relationship stronger and you will enjoy him/her the way he/she is.
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on August 17, 2014
I have one, possibly two strong willed boys and got some books to get some new ideas. I like many of the ideas in the book, and they confirmed some of the ones I had already discovered on my own, and gave me some new options to try. I didn't realize that there was a lot of Bible, Jesus, God, Christian references in this book, the cover and main book reviews don't really reference this. As an athiest, her last section on "when all else fails, pray" doesn't really help me that much, but it is a fast read and something I will go to again when our family has *one of those days*.
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