Strong Willed Child, Strong Willed Adult

Strong_Willed Future Leader

Ever wondered what happens to strong willed, spirited children once they grow into strong willed, spirited adults, I can only speak from my own experience and use it as a cautionary tale to parents who think there is nothing wrong with these unchecked temperaments and behaviours in children.

Vocabulary: (From Webster’s Dictionary)

  • Strong willed: “Very determined to do something even if other people say it should not be done.”
  • Willful: “Refusing to change your ideas or opinions or to stop doing something; something done deliberately.”
  • Stubborn: “Unreasonably unyielding”, “Difficult to handle, manage, or treat.”
  • Spirited: “Full of energy, animation, or courage”

I see a lot of Facebook posts, blog articles, and books about strong willed children. Some of the parents of these children like to predict that their child’s behaviours are signs of a future leader. Their child may or may not become a leader in the future, but what type of leader are they going to be? Why do we view moodiness, poor listening skills, controlling, intense emotions, and a refusal to listen to authority as leadership skills? Aren’t these the same behaviours that society deems to be unacceptable from a leader, despite the fact that we often tolerate those skills in order to remain subordinate team players?

Your future bossy-pants leader!
Your future bossy-pants leader!

Why is it that we don’t see the quite, obedient, shy child as a future leader? These traits don’t often describe what we look for in a leader, but aren’t these types of children possible future leaders as well? We teach children from an early age that those who are loud, bossy, controlling, and have constant disregard for authority will be the leaders and those who don’t fit this description will become future followers.

I don’t want to be lead by someone who rose to their position due to unhealthy and unchecked behaviour. I want to be lead by a person who has great vision, is able to delegate tasks to those with the appropriate skills, and has enough humility to admit when they are wrong and sincerely apologize. I want a leader who listens to others, makes sound decisions, and is emotionally stable. A leader who is not accustomed to being told “no”, doesn’t take constructive criticism, and correction very well. These are the type of people who will remove you from their network, circle of friends, and your employment if you dare to be right when they are wrong. These are the people who will take every little thing personally and seek revenge on you. They can be spiteful and engage in bullying behaviour. They do these things because they don’t know how to handle their emotions and behaviours in a healthy manner.

I’m not saying all strong willed and spirited children will turn out to be this way; that would be false and unfair. What I’m saying is, be careful how you teach and reward children for their problematic behaviour.

Taken at Nome Qld,© 2010 I retain Copyright
Taken at Nome Qld,© 2010 I retain Copyright

My childhood as a strong willed, spirited child was not easy. I was constantly punished and disciplined in unhealthy ways for my stubborn behaviour. I had caregivers and guardians who were hot tempered and didn’t hesitate in resorting to shouting, name calling, swearing, and embarrassment as a means of trying to tame me. I can honestly tell you their methods didn’t work. In fact, what it did do was teach me how to talk back, argue, lash out at others, and treat people the way I was treated by my caregivers. My behaviour and coping skills continued from childhood into adulthood.


Having not learned to manage my will and emotions, I experienced more hardship and struggles than was necessary for any young adult. I am still in the midst of learning and practicing emotional regulation and how to use my strong will in a healthier and more productive manner. This has also lead to increased management of my anxiety via mindfulness and meditation. Things aren’t perfect; there are times when I’m up and down; but now I am able to stop, take a step back and evaluate myself and my surroundings then make necessary and helpful changes. Learning from ADHD coaches and experts in the field of adult ADD/ADHD has also been a benefit for me in managing my behaviours.

I don’t tell parents how to raise their children, but I still think this is an important experience to share with others. As a society and a culture, we can’t assume that children will simply “grow out” of all their unhealthy behaviours without some guidance and role modeling from their parents. We also can’t ignore the reality that it truly does take a village to raise a child. Placing all the responsibility on parents is unfair. As a culture it is important to be aware of how we treat strong willed, spirited children and their opposites, the quiet, well behaved, obedient child. Any of these children might one day be our leaders, and how we influenced them will contribute to how they lead others.

Resources: (Click Titles Below To Open Link) 

Defining Spirited and High Needs Children

What Is A Spirited Child?

5 Tips for Leading Strong Willed People

12 Ways To Deal With Stubborn People






ADHD and Cultivating Meaningful Work

meaningful work kwork






I’m still working my way through Brene Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection and the Oprah Winfrey art journaling  e-course offered in conjunction with the book.

Guidepost #10 is Cultivating Meaningful Work: Letting Go of Self-Doubt and “Supposed To”. This is a chapter that a lot of people can relate to. Work or employment is a major part of our identity and status. As mentioned in this chapter, one of the first things people ask you when they meet you is, “What do you do?” The response can either lift you up and lower you in the eyes of the inquirer. People aren’t often excited by responses such as cashier, janitor, receptionist, or any other job that society doesn’t consider oooh or aww worthy. Tell a person you are an astronaut, teacher, nurse, engineer, or doctor and their eyes light up with further questions, not about you, but about your job. No wonder some people feel so much pressure to have a conversation worthy occupation.


Brene Brown doesn’t define what “meaningful work” is; instead, she leaves it us as individuals to make that determination. Brown believes, “No one can define what’s meaningful for us. Culture doesn’t get to dictate if it’s working outside the home, raising children, lawyering, teaching, or painting. Like our gifts and talents, meaning is unique to each one of us (p.112).”

Having ADD can be difficult in the workforce if we are matched with a job that doesn’t work well with our weakest symptoms. Everyone has different intensities of symptoms which they struggle with. It can be difficult to say which jobs are best or worst for those with this disorder. Working at jobs and in certain environments that are not a right fit can be destructive for one’s career and self-esteem.

dostoevsky on Meaningful Work

There are people who have had to switch jobs and careers due to their ADD symptoms interfering with their ability to succeed at their duties. Some people have their dream job and find their life both in and outside of the workplace to be meaningful. They don’t count hours and they make more than enough money to support their needs and wants. We’re not all so fortunate. I can sit here and write about how to achieve your dream job, but I’m too realistic for that. Instead, I want to encourage you to take time to review what you consider to be meaningful work and ask yourself if you are doing meaningful work in your life. If your work life is not meaningful, can you change that? Do you want to change that and do you really have to?

If you’re not going to be changing your line of work, what other areas of your life can you cultivate meaning? Your employment might only exist for the purpose of paying for your survival; there is nothing wrong with that. But it is important to have some sort of meaning in your life. That meaning might come from hobbies, family, volunteering, or your spiritual practices.

After reading the chapter on Cultivating Meaningful Work, I thought about the story of Mary and Martha (Luke 10: 38-42), a story which has always annoyed me. I’m a Martha, I find meaning in the busyness of work and I enjoy looking back at my day and determining its value by how many items have been checked off the to-do list. This is a habit I am still working to change. Why Jesus, why did you embarrass Martha like that? This has always been my selfish question in defense of sister Martha.

Mary and Martha by Velazquez

It can be difficult to interact with people who have different criteria for “meaningful work” than we do, but it’s important to remember we each bring a different piece to the completion of these puzzles called work and life. I spend most of my day with people who have diverse goals and methods. Because of this, I make sure to schedule time to be with others who share with me a common definition, practice, and understanding of “meaningful work”. You can do the same by hanging out with people who you have an affinity with. For example, if you are training for a marathon, it is important to spend time with others who value discipline, healthy eating, and of course running. If you spend too much time hanging out with people who value daily Netflix binges, think it’s a waste of money to sign up for races, and don’t like to exercise, you won’t be happy when you invest too much of your free time hanging out with them instead of focusing on your race preparation. The same can be said of other things that are meaningful to you.

Stop Comparing Yourself

Brene Brown has this to say, “It can take some time to figure out how to get deliberate about doing meaningful work. I finally got very specific and wrote down my own criteria for ‘meaningful’. Right now, just for me, I want my work to be inspiring, contemplative, and creative. I’m using these as a filter to make decisions about what I do/what I commit to/how I spend my time. …In his book Outliers, Gladwell proposes that there are three criteria for meaningful work—complexity, autonomy, and a relationship between effort and reward… (p.115).”

Here’s a challenge for you: Take some time during the remainder of this month to clarify and define what “meaningful” and “meaningful work” means to you and only to you. How is this evident in your life or how can you make this a part of your life?



ADHD: Stop Trying to Prove Yourself


This week I was reminded of a very important lesson; STOP trying to prove yourself to others, especially when they DON’T care about you. It was a painful reminder, it wasn’t humbling, it was physically, emotionally, and mentally draining.

A few weeks ago I was feeling more anxiety than usual, I was always on the verge of crying, my sleep was almost non-existent, and I was ready to crawl into bed, cover my head, and ignore the world for a while. Thankfully I have bills to pay, and things to do, so that was a wish rather than an option.

What I was made to remember was this: Trying to prove yourself to others is emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausting. Having to prove yourself to others takes you away from doing the things you love, it takes you away from being yourself, it stops you from loving who you are.

I realized I was spending the majority of my days doing things to prove to a certain group of people that I was skilled, capable, good enough, intelligent, and forgivable. What a waste of my time! I finally accepted this was a group of people who would never admit to my abilities, talents, and skills. They had made up their mind that I wasn’t deserving and were doing whatever they could to knock me down and ensure that I stay there.

My mistakes were all due to classic ADHD traits: overscheduling, taking on more than was necessary for one person to handle, not knowing when to say “no”, working on things late into the night, and forgetting the little things. Throw in anxiety along with lack of sleep and you have a hot mess, named ME! My schedule was go-go-go! I was “going” for everyone except myself.

It you’re ADHD looks anything like mine does, sometimes you spend a lot of time making up for your mistakes by trying to prove yourself to your doubters. If you do this long enough it is no longer about proving what you can “do”, instead, you start trying to prove your worthiness. You start trying to prove that you deserve another chance for having been late, for having forgotten an appointment, for forgetting something and before you realize it, you are trying to prove you are worthy of second chances.

self esteem projected

If you believe you deserve a second chance at something, don’t spend your energy trying to prove your worth. Do what you are good at, do what you love, fulfill your responsibilities because that is who you are, not because you want someone to support you, accept you, or believe you. Even if you are excellent at something, or very dependable, you might never get acknowledged or recognition; but it doesn’t change the fact that you are excellent at what you do and are a dependable person.

I took a break and I changed up my schedule. I decided to spend less time around the group I needed to prove myself to and it made a huge difference in how I felt. I suddenly had more free time for the things I love to do and for people who didn’t require me to “prove myself”; these were people who already knew what I was great at.

My time with them wasn’t spent trying to prove anything, we spent that time together and I was free to be myself. My anxiety decreased because I wasn’t spending all my energy and thoughts on how to prove myself to others. My focus increased because I only had a few things on my plate, and those few things I did because I knew I was good at them, not because I needed to prove to anyone else that I was good at it or capable of handling the work.


Take a look at your life, your goals, and how you spend your time. Do you find that a lot of time is spent “proving yourself” to others? Is your self-worth wrapped up in trying to make up for some of your ADHD flaws? Do you spend a lot of time worrying about what others will think of your work?

Spending a lot of time worrying about what others might think or how others view you means you are not spending enough time being you, being yourself. Take time to value yourself. If you have done your best and all that you can or could do or were asked to do; take pride in that and give yourself a pat on the back.

value decrease