Been reading Bob McKenzie's book "Setting Limits with Your Strong-Willed Child", which I highly recommend to parents who are blessed with "aggressive researchers", commonly known as headstrong kids.
McKenzie's recommendations track closely (with a few exceptions) to those of STEP and Positive Discipline: clear messages, firm but kind responses, immediate move to action steps vs. constant nagging or "dancing".
It reminded me the comical scene in "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" (you have read it right?-- the final movie episode is due out soon) where the Hogwarts students get their first lesson in Apparition from beleaguered Ministry wizard Wilkie Twycross.
For the uninitiated, Apparition is the ability to disappear magically from one place and reappear simultaneously in another. Twycross' job is to convey to 16-year-old wizards the knack for this rather dangerous undertaking-- sort of like driving lessons.
His instructions are thus: "The important things to remember when Apparating are the three D's! DESTINATION! DETERMINATION! DELIBERATION!
How appropriate for us as parents--
1) DESTINATION!= Patience. Keep in mind the long-term goal-- we are raising the next generation of adults. A marathon, not a sprint. Your job as a parent is much more than the little things you do everyday, and yet it's the sum of these very things that help make our children the adults they will be.
2) DETERMINATION!= Focus. Once you spend a little energy thinking about your values and what's important in your life, don't be sidetracked by other pressures into losing sight of them. Your kids won't know your values unless you are certain of them and constantly demonstrate them in action. Remember that the culture is marketing something-- ideas, toys, dreams-- to our kids round the clock. Don't let it have more influence on your kids than you do.
3) DELIBERATION!= Purpose. Resolute, firm, persistent, decisive-- let these be your trademarks in the eyes of your children. They need that guiding light in a world of grays, half-truths, and muddled morality.
Of course it's hard. How much of worthwhile comes easy?
So-- let's go do some magic.