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109 of 112 people found the following review helpful
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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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
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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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
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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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on July 15, 2013
I have been reading You Can't Make Me (But I Can Be Persuaded), Revised and Updated Edition by Cynthia Ulrich Tobias. I was excited to get it, as my little guy is quite the "strong willed child" much of the time. I got about half way through and I was sort of feeling iffy about the stories written and advise given. Then I got to a section where a man tells the author that Bible tells us to be obedient to God and our parents. What I took away from her response was that God made most people strong willed and so He most likely doesn't want us to go against our nature. A red flag popped up for me right there. Strong will is a matter of trying to exert your dominance over someone else and not let them win no matter what. Determination and drive are valuable, but I agree with the man, God doesn't want us to be willful and stubborn. We are born as sinners and many things, such as strong will, are passed off as "the way we were born" and we are told to embrace it. God clearly says in His word that they are being tempted by a sinful nature and need to turn to him for guidance and correction.

The following section is titled Rules are basically guidelines, in which she gives this example:

"If I drive into the school parking lot for an evening PTA meeting and the closest parking places are marked "Bus Zone - No Parking," I interpret that sign to mean, "if the buses need those spaces, you can't park here. However, if the busses don't need them, you can park here." It's a guideline! On the other hand, you won't find a stronger advocate than I am when it comes to making sure "Handicapped Only" parking is strictly enforced twenty-four hours a day."
I have a huge problem with the thinking behind this. If I park in that bus zone it shows my kids that we only need to follow the rules when someone is watching. How am I to know that there isn't a sporting event that is out and will need that space in the evening. Picking and choosing what rules to follow is part of the reason that so many followers of Christ are confused about what the Bible teaches. It is a slippery slope to slide down and it is where I stopped reading the book.

If you want to raise your children in a Biblical way, I do not recommend this book. If you want a quick fix to "tolerate" your strong willed child, then this will help. It will not however, get you to the root of their will and help them to grow to maturity as Godly young men and women.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on August 31, 2013
Many years ago, when my firstborn was just a tyke, I read a book by Cynthia Ulrich Tobias. And I loved it! Her insight was just what I needed as a young mom trying to determine what made my son "tick". It helped me to accept that his learning style was not the same as mine, and was a great starting point for me when I began researching curriculum options prior to kindergarten. I expected the same result with the book You Can't Make Me (But I Can Be Persuaded).

I was actually surprised when I found myself doubting some of what she shares in this book. It's not that any of her ideas about parenting strong-willed children wouldn't work; I honestly think most of them would work well! What seems to kind of nag at me about this book is the underlying idea that there isn't any real accountability for the behavior of the strong-willed child, and we as parents simply must find ways to adapt in order to affirm the child. My problem with this notion is that it isn't Biblical. Let me explain what I mean.

I'm not saying the author isn't a Christian, and she does reference God's Word at the beginning of each chapter. And I'm not attempting to slander her as an author or as a person. What I am saying is simply that it simply is not Biblical to raise our children to believe it's perfectly okay to buck authority and deny respect to those in authority over them just because they have a strong will. After all, can't we all say we have a strong will? Can't we all say we don't like to do what we're told without knowing why? Yes, we can all relate to feeling that way. But parents who want to prepare their strong-willed children to relate to Almighty God with a holy, reverent attitude will teach them that God expects our total obedience to Him, and He has no need to provide us with the big picture prior to our obeying. Teaching them that they can, and should, expect to be able to choose who they will and won't respect by means of conditioning them to pick and choose their attitude based on how those in authority make them feel is not Biblical parenting and sets them up for a life full of disappointment and confusion when God does not relate to them in said manner.

While I don't really agree with much of her reasoning in this particular book, I have to say that (in my opinion) Cynthia Tobias is most in her element when she is helping parents understand their child's learning style. She is gifted in that arena in ways that all parents, homeschooling or not, can benefit from. Recently she was on Focus on the Family's radio program and she was as informative and inspiring as ever. Don't throw the baby out with the bath water, and by all means don't simply take my word for it! Read some of her books for yourself, filter them through God's Word, and come to your own conclusion.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on December 1, 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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
This book will be so helpful in my family. I don't think there are any personalities in our home that are not strong willed - except me of course. Seriously! My kids are very strong willed and Cynthia lays out many steps and tips to help through many challenges in a family when dealing with a strong willed child. First and foremost is communication - you must have strong communication and appropriate communication to help a strong willed child. I really enjoyed the section in the book where some battles are discussed and Cynthia strongly urges the reader to choose their battles. One story in particular is about a child who likes to dress herself but cannot seem to wear anything that matches. I have to say I gave up that battle three kids ago! My youngest two - as long as the appropriate coverage is there - it is not worth the battle. You should see how uniquely my youngest dresses! But, the clothing is totally indicative of her personality and if the only battle I fight is a "coverage" battle - then we have so many fewer issues. I would sum up this book as communication strategies and guidance strategies. It is a rather quick read, easy to follow and incorporate into daily living. I do think there are many other similar types of books but are they all as easy to read, non medical and totally realistic? Maybe not. This is a great book to develop a strong base.

NOTE: I received a complimentary copy of You Can't Make Me (But I Can Be Persuaded) from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group. All opinions, good or bad are my own.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on November 14, 2012
I have often seen parents with children that were in the middle of a melt down and thought to myself. "Why cant that parent keep their child in line?" That was until my little girl became the same strong-willed child.

It feels like I have tried everything and nothing seems to work. My husband would always say she is acting that way on purpose and I just blew him off thinking, its just the age and she will grow out of it.

A few weeks ago I had a new baby and the behavior intensified, leading me to search for any source that could help me keep my sanity. That is when I came across the book You Can't Make Me[But I can Be Persuaded]. It helped to know that the Author Cynthia Ulrich Tobias had experience with the same situations as I have. And unlike some parenting books I never felt Judged but comforted in the knowledge that I am not the only one, and I am not a bad parent.

This book honestly opened my eyes to the fact that I too had been a strong-willed child. And remembering those behaviors in myself while putting the useful suggestions into practice really helped. The ideas seem so common sense now but it took reading this book and seeing the examples that fit my life to really open my eyes to how I was approaching my daughter in the wrong ways and how simple changes in my tone and questions I ask her can really make a big difference in how she responds, after all she really never HAS to do what I tell her. She has to chose too. Honestly, Read Chapter One

and you will be hooked.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 31, 2013
The reality of the difficulty of parenting is something for which I am increasingly becoming aware. With that said, it is the most satisfying duty I have ever had. An important element of being a parent is that of knowing how to properly approach your child's behavior which includes understanding their personality and what the Proverbs call their bent. Those with children who have what could be labeled as an overly expressive demeanor are rightly called strong willed children. Cynthia Tobias, in her book You Can't Make Me: Strategies for Bringing Out the Best in Your Strong-Willed Child, uses years of professional and personal experience to assist the reader in betting understanding what a strong-willed child is, how to approach that type of personality, and skills to successfully direct that level of emotion in the proper direction.

Before reading this book, I had an idea of what a strong-willed child was all about as after all, isn't having a strong will equivalent to having a rebellious spirit? After reading this book, my perception of what a strong-willed child is all about has dramatically changed as Tobias clearly outlines what it means to be strong willed and why such a personality is not always a negative trait provided the right parental guidance is given in the formative years of childhood.

Tobias discussed the need to pick your battles with the strong-willed child. While I am not entirely sure my own child is what could be labeled as strong-willed, at least when it comes to day to day actions, there are times when she does express a strong set of emotional and physical responses to certain issues. This has resulted in the need for my wife and I to decide which battles are important to fight and which issues are secondary elements of life. For instance, Tobias rightly comments "If you make a big deal out of everything, pretty soon everything will be a big deal, and you may get to the point where you'll hear some absolutely ridiculous arguments designed purely to get a reaction out of you." From my own personal experience, when that happens, the discussion and learning opportunity has been lost, at least for the time being.

Some may say that as parents, they are the boss and the child should obey. That is certainly true and Tobias certainly does not deny that important reality of parental authority. The issue she addresses is the need to at times lighten up without letting loose of the parental reins of authority and oversight. This is truly a delicate balance. Tobias states that when giving rules and boundaries to a strong-willed child, it is imperative to "be clear with your reasons for rules and regulations." Essentially, have a conversation with your strong-willed child as to why rules are important. Such an approach sets the important groundwork for later in life when they will be tempted to buck against authority.

I also appreciated the author's insight into dealing with the issue of homework with a strong-willed child. The topic of homework has been an issue at times with our own child. The capacity to do homework is there, however, the desire and focus to do homework at times was not which resulted in strong-willed emotional responses when as parents, we required that level of focus on homework to exhibit itself. Tobias aptly comments on this issue, stating sometimes homework "can be boring, repetitious busywork. But the reality is that - right or wrong - often the homework assignments are counted as part of the student's final grade. Help your SWC (strong-willed child) figure out what needs to be done in order to accomplish the goal he sets." This has been the approach we have taken with our daughter and I will start unequivocally that it has worked wonders.

Having a strong-willed child can be a challenge, but it is not something that is beyond the parent's ability to deal with provided they have the right tools at their disposal and provided they have the proper approach to the child's actions, attitudes, and responses. Cynthia Tobias provides a number of valuable principles and examples parents can use to train up their strong-willed child in the fear and admonition of the Lord in a manner that gives them the necessary space while also providing the parent the means to be that needed authority in the life of their child.

I received this book for free from Waterbrook Press for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 19, 2013
I read this book, and it has a lot of great tips and ideas on how to deal with a Strong Willed Children(even husbands). Cynthia Ulrich Tobias writes a great book, well written and easy to read. This book helps you to learn to talk to your children and how to persuade them. I have three children and all three are very strong willed. I don't think being strong willed is necessarily a bad thing. Strong willed children are not easily persuaded and that can be good for when they get older. I definitely would rather have my child be the boss of themselves then have someone else be telling them what to do, but I'm the mom so they do have to listen to me.... This book is a really good book and I recommend it to all parents.

From the Inside Flap
It's easy to recognize a strong-willed child. Difficult to discipline, at times impossible to motivate, strong-willed children present unique, frustrating, and often exhausting challenges to those who care for them. But now, the miracle parents long for can happen. Offering new hope, achievable goals, and a breath of fresh air to families and teachers, Cynthia Tobias explains how the mind of a strong-willed child works - and how to use that information to the child's best advantage.

About the Author
Cynthia Ulrich Tobias is the founder, manager, and CEO of Apple St. L.L.C. (Applied Learning Styles) and president of Learning Styles Unlimited, Inc. She coordinates the Apple St. education and commerce programs and administers various learning styles projects throughout North America and internationally. Cynthia is a popular speaker at workshops, classes, and seminars for businesses, government agencies, churches, and school districts. And she's the best-selling author of The Way They Learn, They Way We Work, Every Child Can Succeed, Bringing Out the Best in Your Child, and Do You Know What I Like About You? Cynthia, her husband, and their twin boys live in the Seattle, Washington area.
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