Tricky Kids:
Transforming conflict
and freeing their potential

by Andrew Fuller


Looking for adventure … or whatever comes their way

Stubborn, pigheaded, defiant, oppositional, free-ranging, having a mind of their own, iron-willed, forceful, determined, hardheaded, free-spirited or just plain difficult – call them what you will, there are some kids who are incredibly difficult to raise well.

Compliant, agreeable, sweet children are easy. Parenting them just seems to happen. It evolves. You can see how the wind shifts and set your course accordingly.

Not so with tricky kids. Successfully parenting them takes a degree of strategic planning equivalent to sailing around the world. You need to know in advance when to batten down the hatches, when to bail out and when to sail straight into the eye of the storm.

Having a compliant child is a lesson that there is love in the world. Having a forceful child teaches you that there is still a dark side to be overcome.

Some of the common things parents say that indicate they have a tricky child include:

‘It doesn’t matter what I say …’
‘She just gets something into her mind and won’t give it up.’
‘Some days I could just scream at them …’
‘He has always got to have the last word.’
‘She’s fine when she gets her own way.’
‘He can argue for hours.’
‘She just won’t take no for an answer.’

Do any of these comments sound familiar? If so, congratulations, it’s likely you have a tricky child. Not always the easiest to parent, in fact downright difficult at times. But don’t worry too much: these children grow up to change the world. They often have leadership qualities in bucket-loads. The big trick is to use their strength of character for good, not evil!

Some news you may not want to hear …

Tricky children don’t just grow out of their willful personalities, they either learn to adapt and change, or they torment their families for years. Children’s characters are relatively stable – it’s how you manage their personal style that makes a difference.

Tricky kids are the movers and shakers of the future. They know their own mind and have the energy and determination to achieve what they set out to do. These kids do not lack persistence. They are not wishy-washy. They might be wild, difficult and stressful, but parenting them will teach you a lot about life and about yourself.

Most of the great achievers, politicians and national figures that are remembered throughout history were forceful children. Sadly, history does not record the thoughts of the parents of Joan of Arc or Alexander the Great as these young adults left home. Did they shed a tear as their children departed, saying, ‘Hurry home, dear’?

Or did they heave a great sigh of relief and think to themselves, ‘Phew, thank goodness that’s over, now they can go and conquer the rest of the world and give us a bit of a break!’? While we might suspect the latter, parenting tricky kids can be entertaining.

A spotter’s guide to tricky kids

One of the great paradoxes of life is that many children and adolescents who are difficult to raise and teach often grow up to become, as mentioned, the movers and shakers of the world. They have fantastic energy and leadership potential. During more than 25 years of working with parents and their kids, I have come
to realise that, broadly speaking, there are two categories of kids:

  1. The lovable, likable, amiable, friendly, compliant kids. You know the ones? You ask them to clean up their room and in a matter of weeks it is done!
  2. The fiery ones, the feisty ones, the ones who have a mind of their own. These kids are tricky to parent well. These are the kids that can drive parents mad. These are also the kids with enormous leadership capability.

Part One of Tricky Kids looks at how we can understand these kids in order to steer their energies and optimise their great potential.


Extract from Tricky Kids: Transforming conflict and freeing their potential

© Andrew Fuller (Reprinted with permission)

ISBN 9781876451769
RRP $24.95 published by Finch Publishing

Read the book review on this website
“A gender-equal society would be one where the word ‘gender’ does not exist: where everyone can be themselves.”*

I’ve always been aware of gender conditioning and actively tried to combat any lingering prejudices or stereotypes in my own parenting, even down to encouraging dolls with my boys when they were little. It’s great to read people writing about gender issues they’re experiencing with their kids. For too long these subjects have been discouraged or silenced. I’d love to publish some more creative writing on this topic, especially if you are struggling with a child who actively tries to move away from gender normative preferences. A society where everyone can be themselves thanks Gloria for those aspirational words.

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* Gloria Steinem