In today’s episode of Parent with a Pro, we talk about understanding who the sassy, spirited, and strong-willed child is. Experts say there’s different tools for different categories of children​. Knowing more about what category your child fits and will help you know which tools to use for your specific child. We have the tendency to lump all three categories into one but they are different kinds of kids. However, they all do fall under that umbrella category of difficult children.




The Sassy Child

  • Has so much attitude
  • Talks back a lot
  • Wants to argue with you on everything

They will eventually do what you’ve asked them to do. Just with an attitude. These kids want to be heard first before they will do something. 

The Spirited Child

  • Loud, energetic
  • Oozing with emotion
    • When they’re happy, they’re tons of fun
    • When they’re upset, they throw really big tantrums

The Strong-Willed Child

  • Refuses to do what you ask them to do
  • You literally have to force them to comply
  • Very defiant

Hopeful tip: There is often a reason for this behavior and with the proper skills, you can see improved behavior from your child.

Is my child’s behavior age-related?

  • It is challenging to know for sure because each child is on their own, unique developmental journey
  • Age 2 is too young to know because a child does not have a clear understanding of right and wrong, they are too early in their developmental journey. (NOTE: some autism can be detected at the age of two. It manifests itself as delayed speaking)
  • Age 3 is a very defiant stage of life for most toddlers. However, you can start to see more sassy, spirited, and strong-willed tendencies manifest themselves.

How do I know if I have a sassy, spirited, and strong-willed child? Could my child have additional issues?

  • You need a professional to diagnose the following issues: ADHD, ODD, autism, anxiety, OCD, depression (These can all manifest themselves as a sassy, spirited, or strong-willed child)
  • In the meantime, do a self-assessment by asking yourself the following question:
    • Is my child’s behavior similar to the behavior of other children their age? If the answer is “yes”, your child may simply be experiencing a normal phase. If the answer is “no”, you are most likely dealing with a child who is sassy, spirited, and strong-willed.

Happy Parenting!

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