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Setting Limits with Your Strong-Willed Child: Eliminating Conflict by Establishing Clear, Firm, and Respectful Boundaries

4.08  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,328 Ratings  ·  216 Reviews
In this fully revised and expanded second edition, Setting Limits author Robert MacKenzie is back with even more time-proven methods for dealing with misbehavior and creating positive, respectful, and rewarding relationships with children prone to acting out and disobedience.

Disruptive misbehavior, constant power struggles, manipulative or aggressive behavior--the challeng
Paperback, 288 pages
Published January 25th 2001 by Harmony
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,795)
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Jan 30, 2009 Kat rated it really liked it
Not that I'm a strong-willed person with a strong-willed oldest child (cough)....

I really, really would recommend this book to anyone who has any sort of discipline issues with any child in their life. Seriously, it's very instructive. Jeremy and I were already doing this method with Ben about half of the time, but hadn't realized that it was the magic bullet of discipline happiness until I started reading this book and tried to use it all of the time. It's been wonderful.

Basically, the idea is
Dec 03, 2008 Kristie rated it it was amazing
One of the few books that actually changed my life. For three years I had a "compliant" child and then along came his brother. My husband and I were frustrated with his behavior and we couldn't understand why he just wouldn't listen to us like his brother.

This book clearly explained our son's behavior and helped us to change our expectations, which made all of us happier. It also gave us practical instructions for changing our behavior and our son's.

Within one week, we were a much, much, happier
Aug 21, 2008 Tara rated it it was amazing
Perhaps the best parenting book I've read...very clear, precise instructions on how to set limits and stick to them. I identified myself as setting "soft" limits with my kids too often, and now I understand how to be more "firm" but not harsh. I really needed this book, as I have strong-willed children that like to test boundaries.
Nikki Morse
Jan 17, 2013 Nikki Morse rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: parenting
I highly, highly recommend this book for anyone parenting or working with children who are strong willed. It discusses ineffective parenting styles such as being too permissive or being too harsh, and explores a better model based on clear communication and action follow ups. Let's see how it goes implementing, but I really learned a lot from it!
Karen Mahtin
May 03, 2014 Karen Mahtin rated it liked it
Shelves: toddler
This book has some good points about getting (older) kids to follow thru on things you want them to do, but... the author seems to think that all strong-willed kids are doing is testing to see at what point the parent will make them stop doing unwanted behaviors. I think that there is a certain amount of impulsivity (lack of impulse control?) that makes kids do things without thinking - it's not always a conscious desire to rebel or "aggressively research" parents' boundaries.

The book is written
Apr 05, 2014 Beth rated it it was amazing
I found this book utterly amazing. Robert MacKenzie knows exactly what he's talking about when it comes to strong-willed children and how to effectively shape and guide their temperament in the right direction. My oldest son is almost 4 years old. I wouldn't say he is the most stong-willed child there is (half the time he is the sweetest boy in the world) but he has definitely learned -from us, his parents- that he can get away with defiance. We tried every approach we could think of to stop him ...more
Katie Coleman
Jan 04, 2012 Katie Coleman rated it really liked it
I bought this for my toddler who was in the midst of the terrible twos, but as I read through it I realized that all children are strong-willed at times, and it really helped me with all of them. This book, to me, was like a best friend whispering in your ear, reminding you of all the things you *know* you should do as a parent but forget in the midst of conflict. It is PRACTICAL. I have read books that encourage you to talk things out with your child more than this one does, but the older my ki ...more
Jul 19, 2013 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have three strong-willed children, which isn’t too surprising as they have two strong-willed parents. I liked the subtitle of this book which is “eliminating conflict by establishing clear, firm, and respectful boundaries.” I hate conflict so eliminating it sounded great to me.

The book explains the “family dance” which is when your kids discover that you are going to tell them a million times to do something, so they don’t do it, which enrages you, and things quickly go downhill. MacKenzie gav
Jen Goddeeris
Mar 02, 2012 Jen Goddeeris rated it really liked it
Knowing what to do as a parent of a "strong-willed" and being able to do are two VERY different things. I read this book on my almost 4 year old son's pediatrician's recommendation. It helps give parents the tools to be able to do what we know we should doing and more importantly how to not get wrapped up in the "dance"we do with our strong-willed children. It involves realizing what kind a person you are, strong-willed or compliant and how to relate to your strong-willed child. It helps you fig ...more
Dec 23, 2015 Mary rated it it was amazing
This is a great resource for simple discipline methods, many of which we probably already know, but, if you're like me, fail to implement much of the time. This, along with "You Can't Make Me, But I Can Be Persuaded", I intend to buy and reread on a regular basis as reminders. There were a few little things about this book that bugged me, namely the pointless drawings and text boxes that only re-state a sentence that was already on the page to begin with. But I can overlook those and I still got ...more
Aug 20, 2010 Audra rated it really liked it
This book is very much like Love and Logic, except that it goes even further where L&L left off.
The first half of the book was a lot of regurgitated fluff, but had occasional "AHA!" statements that rang very true. The second half was most helpful, giving practical and sensible guidelines for how to live by and enforce the limits you set for your strong willed children. I would definitely recommend this along with L&L, both "must reads" for your parenting library collection.
Jul 19, 2016 Izabelle rated it really liked it
At the time I came across this book I was unaware that there was such a thing as a strong willed child who learned and reacted differently to everyday rules than the average compliant child. I just thought my oldest daughter was a well behaved child and my son was just a difficult child.
Now I have a better understanding of him and the way he learns. I have put a few of Mackenzie's techniques into practice and I know we have a long way to go, but we are going in the right direction.
This book is
Jennifer Manning
Jul 24, 2009 Jennifer Manning rated it really liked it
I really really liked this parenting book. It is probably one of my favorites. I don't know if I agree with everything he says but having a very strong-willed child myself it really helped me appreciate Caleb more and not get into so many battles with him. I feel like a better parent and feel like I understand Caleb better.
Apr 03, 2016 Audra rated it it was ok
Shelves: parenting
My guess is this book is helpful for your standard, run of the mill child with a more strong, difficult temperament. I loved the sections on better understanding and accepting temperament. However, I felt like the author was definitely not giving advice for children who are very resistant and oppositional, for the child who will not take a time out or chill out time, for the child who may need hundreds of repetitions to learn limits. It also felt very much compliance-focused, where children were ...more
Frank Becker
Dec 01, 2014 Frank Becker rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Das Buch hat mir geholfen, "Fehler" in meinem Erzeihungsverhalten zu sehen. Das ist vielleicht auch einer der wichtigsten Punkte; nämlich eben nicht funktionierendes Verhalten bei sich selbst zu erkennen - um dann eben effektiver reagieren und agieren zu können.
Weiterhin bietet das Buch eine Reihe von Werzeugen, besser mit seinem Kind klarzukommen bzw. dem Kind seine Regeln deutlich zu machen und eine Einhaltung für das Kind schmackhafter zu machen (ohne zu bestechen oder zu drohen...). Nichts d
Morgan Schulman
May 16, 2016 Morgan Schulman rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best parenting books I've ever read. It's helpful as it gives you very concrete clear directive advice about what to do and how to do it. It's also very helpful because it provides this perspective: if you have a strong-willed child, that is that child's temperament, and you are better off figuring out how to parent in a way that will minimize the behavior, then to try and change your child's temperament. No more explaining, bargaining, negotiating. No more expecting that one ...more
May 23, 2010 Alisa rated it really liked it
This has been one of my favorite parenting books. It has helped me get right to the point and not drag the drama on and on without having to get angry or lecture. It helped me find my parenting style. I need a re-read now that my children are a few years older.
Feb 21, 2008 Jill rated it it was amazing
This is such a great book for effectively communicating with strong-willed children. It taught me how to use more effective words and teaching methods. There has definitely been less frustration around my house since I have read this book!
Nov 17, 2015 Kelly rated it it was amazing
I think this is one of the best parenting books I've ever read. It's all stuff I knew but it is presented in a very clear and understandable way. I felt like I needed a parenting tune up and this was a perfect reminder of some good principles. I found myself nodding along to a lot of the book. He did a great job empathizing with parents' frustrations and explaining why strong willed kids are so strong willed (they are aggressive researchers and need to collect a lot of data to believe that you m ...more
Jan 07, 2013 Ashima rated it really liked it
helpful. Helped me see ways in which I was not communicating effectively. He takes a while to get to the point but this provides some very helpful techniques that i have been using and that work!
Nancy Sharp
Jan 23, 2014 Nancy Sharp rated it really liked it
This book made a lot of sense to me and I found myself making notes throughout. I recognized myself, my husband, and my strong-willed son in these pages, and came away with pragmatic solutions to try and eliminate the conflict in our home. It was particularly fascinating to turn the spotlight on myself - to determine whether my parenting is permissive, punitive, or both -- and think hard about the reactions those styles produce. Robert MacKenzie argues for a democratic, respectful approach albei ...more
Sep 16, 2014 Brandee rated it really liked it
This is one of those books that you want to have playing on a loop in a headset. Yes, I have a strong-willed child, 2 of them in fact. This book is similar to "1-2-3 Magic" except that you can use it for older children (I have a 13-year-old), and it gets rid of the counting, which can quickly get old and useless on anyone over age 5. The similar messages that work for me are the ones about parents showing too much emotional response and/or doing too much talking and explaining, but MacKenzie goe ...more
Feb 01, 2016 Erika rated it really liked it
This book takes a very love and logic approach to parenting. Many of the strategies and techniques are valuable; so are the reminders to us as parents to manage our own junk well and to remain calm. This book does not take a trauma-informed approach to parenting, so some should read it with caution as many behaviors that could be considered "strong willed" could also stem from a history of trauma and require a different way of thinking and interacting. Overall, a valuable read for someone with n ...more
Jun 10, 2014 Kristen rated it it was amazing
This is an amazing parenting resource for families with strong-willed children. Though just about every principle set forth in the book is common-sense, the compilation of all the methods all together, in one place is refreshing for any parent who is at wit's end! I love the idea of my strong-willed child being a aggressive researcher ... not naughty! Strong willed children are not trying to be difficult, they are simply collecting data. As parents, we are responsible for providing this data by ...more
Aug 17, 2016 Eileen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good on paper

Eye-opening regarding permissive/authoritative parenting styles. Leaves me with questions for 2yos (cool down time not recommended until age 3). Also I can't imagine safe outcomes for several examples of consequences that would leave the strong-willed child undersupervised in bedroom. I am curious how he would handle my kid who seems to love the thrill of the kitchen timer. And what about the twin brother losing a ton of shared toys to his brother's misdeeds? I am trying to cut down
Jun 24, 2016 Erin rated it it was ok
Like most parenting books, this one had a central thesis that is solid and logical but aside from a few moments of "hey, do X, it'll make your life easier", it mostly just made me feel like a horrible mother for not having intuited from the beginning that I should do X, thereby turning my kid into this stubborn, difficult being that I'm living with.

The useful nugget of this book is "always hold your ground and stay calm because one time of saying 'fine, have the thing I said you can't have becau
Dec 28, 2013 Shirley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
My son had been driving me and my husband to the brink of insanity with his temper and misbehavior when I found this book and thought what perfect timing! We have tried different methods of disciplining him: positive reinforcement, time-outs, taking away his toys, etc. but he is still such a stubborn child who loves to push our buttons! We are now trying out the methods described in this book and although it has been a slow process, we are doing our best to work with our "strong-willed" son!

Rebecca Ormond
Apr 12, 2016 Rebecca Ormond rated it liked it
The material is pretty remedial. I think any parent conscious enough to read a parenting book probably already knows not to call their child names or hit them. Offering two acceptable choices and using logical consequences is pretty basic stuff that we use on a regular basis. I didn't gain much new insight but it was a good review of the basics. Currently my little researchers are almost 3 and almost 1 - I'm sure rereading this book in a couple of years, when things really start to get exciting, ...more
Feb 12, 2016 Tracyesine rated it it was amazing
This is the best book about child-rearing I've ever read. It should not be reserved for parents who believe their children are unusually strong-willed; the techniques are useful for all parents. The chapter about "family dances" is especially useful. The gist is, if parents would simply cut out the weak and emotional speeches (nagging, bargaining, reminding, etc.) they make between instruction and consequence, compliance would come more quickly and they would be 1,000 times happier.

The only thi
Nov 08, 2013 Crystal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read James Dobson's The New Strong Willed Child and wrote about it here.
I felt like that book didn't offer me any great suggestions or tips, so I was a bit apprehensive of what I would learn from another type of book like this.
BUT I am so happy that I picked this one up next because it was the EXACT OPPOSITE.
This book is a real winner.
I learned SO much.
I HIGHLY recommend reading this book, and not necessarily just for strong willed kids.
This book has some WONDERFUL tips and guidelines for rais
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