Your guide to parenting a stubborn child (minus the confusion)
A child whose behavior pushes you away is a child who needs a connection before anything else
Let’s admit it-temperament is something that we are born with. Children can have a temperament, but how you handle such children is going to make all the difference in the kind of adult they turn out to be. As almost all parents say, toddlers and stubbornness go together like peanut butter and jelly. It can happen at any age.
How can we be so sure of it?
We recently had a small interview with a working mother of a five-year-old daughter who often has to go through such challenges. According to her, parenting a stubborn child is really a difficult task. On asking what’s the most memorable and unique challenge she had to face, this is what she replied …
“I want triangles!!!” her toddler belted at the top of her lungs as she kept the grilled cheese sandwich in front of her, which was cut into rectangles.
She further added, “almost every time I cut her sandwiches into triangles. But that afternoon, my sleep-deprived, overwhelmed brain was elsewhere, and for some reason, the knife just went through the other way.”
“Triangles!!!” my daughter screamed again.
I sighed. This was the moment I had to decide how to handle my so-called stubborn toddler.
I decided something- even if I wanted to do it, I was pretty sure not to make another sandwich for her. But I also knew she would refuse to touch the sandwich as those didn’t meet her shape-related specifications.”
This might be your story, as well! No wonder simple requests or gentle reprimands will collapse into power struggles, in which no reasoning will persuade an angry kid to compromise. Kids with a strong-willed will refuse to respond to any of your “go-to” discipline tricks. While their stubbornness might serve them well in the future to some extent, it offers you a lot of challenges when you’re trying to teach them what is right and what is wrong. Parenting a highly sensitive and stubborn child is challenging but not impossible. And so we have come up with few ways to deal with your strong-willed child and help him learn right from wrong.
8 ways of parenting a stubborn child
1. Beta, what happened, and why are you so upset?
We should never underestimate our little rebels, as they know us better than anyone else. They know when to react and in which situation. It’s important for parents to understand that over caring nature will not solve their problem. If we continue talking to him in a requesting tone, keep going behind him, then undoubtedly, these will give him more courage to behave like this. Therefore, we must make sure to leave him alone and give him some space to think. Just have faith in your parenting, and he is sure to get back to normal at some point.
2. We need to practice what we preach.
Kids learn best by observing their behavior and emulating it. So, if we want our kids to listen, we need to learn to walk the walk and practice what we preach. If we want our little one to be kind, we need to let them see us being kind to others, especially when we don’t have a reason. If we want them to stop yelling, we must watch our tone first. These few things to check on, and we are good to go!
3. Arguing is not going to work.
Even when we do everything right, kids simply don’t want to do what is being asked of them. In such a scenario, it is best to nip arguments in the bud right away. And how to do this? Simply by stating firmly and clearly what type of behavior is expected of them. The best thing would be to mention to them the importance of respect and how their compliance is necessary for their safety and well being. If possible, we can also let them know the consequences that will occur if they continue their poor behavior.
4. Discipline is the key, not punishment
No wonder parenting a stubborn child is a tough job, but it can be easy if you change their behaviour. Wondering how to change a stubborn child’s behaviour? Well, a sweet relationship between you and them is the key. It’s true! Kids don’t learn when they’re in the middle of a fight. Like all of us, that’s when their adrenaline is pumping and learning shuts off. Kids do everything just to please us. Yes! We know it’s sweet and cute of them. The more we fight and punish them, the more we tend to undermine their desire to please us. If they are upset, we should help them express their hurt, fear, or disappointment, so they evaporate. Only then they will be ready to listen to us if we say everyone in our family speaks kindly to each other.
5. Understanding their perspective
To better understand a stubborn child’s behavior, we must try to look at the situation from their perspective. We need to put ourselves in their shoes and try to imagine what they must be going through to behave in such a way. The more we know our children, the better we can deal with their stubborn streak. All they need is love and empathy. So, we must empathize with them even while not giving in to their demands. On understanding their disappointment, anger, or frustration, we must support them while being firm instead of ignoring it.
For example, if a child is not willing to do his homework, he is overwhelmed by the task. If there is too much to do, you can help him by breaking the homework into small tasks that can be completed in a short period. Not the hard work; sometimes, a little bit of smart work can do wonders too.
6. Pushing the stubborn child.
Force always creates “push-back”—with each one of us. If we take a hard and fast position, we can easily push our children into defying us, just to prove a point. We will know when it’s a power struggle, and we’re invested in winning. We need to stop, take a breath, and remind ourselves that winning a battle with our stubborn children always sets us up to lose what’s most important—the relationship. When in doubt, we should say— “Ok, you can decide this for yourself.” If he can’t, then it’s our duty to ask him which part of it he can decide or find another way to meet his need for autonomy without compromising his health or safety.
7. Giving them choices works best
Commanding a stubborn child to do something is a sure-fire way of igniting their rebellious move. Instead, we can offer them options to choose from, as this will make them feel as if they have control over their lives. This will help them independently decide what they would like to do. Keeping the choices limited to avoid their confusion is the best thing we can do. For instance, if they are to clean up their room, we can ask them if they would like to start with the dirty floor or their wardrobe first instead of saying, “where do you want to start?”
8. They deserve respect and empathy.
Most strong-willed children are often seen to fight for respect. What if we offer it to them? The chances are that they will never fight to protect their respect. And, like the rest of us, it helps a lot if they feel they are understood. If you come across any of his points of view and think he’s wrong, you can still offer him empathy while you set the limit without losing your cool. For instance, if your child wants to wear the superman cape to church and you think that’s inappropriate, instead of losing your patience, what if you tell him something like this?-
“I know you love this cape. I wish you could wear it. But when we go to church, we dress up to show respect, so we can’t wear it. I know you’ll miss wearing it. What if we take it with us so you can wear it on our way home?”
Does this sound like Permissive Parenting? Of Course not! You set limits, but with an understanding of your child’s perspective. This will make him more cooperative.
As parents, our job in any heated moments is to treat our little ones as an individual. We need to remember that we are constantly impacting their developing personality, but ultimately, we don’t have control over it. Our job is not to force them to eat their vegetables or share their toys. It’s to raise and teach a kid with the skills to be useful to themselves and others.
Do you have a strong-willed child? You’re lucky! Such children can be a challenge when they’re young, but if sensitively parented, they are sure to become terrific teens and young adults. If they are self-motivated and inner-directed, they can go after what they want and are almost impervious to peer pressure. If you have any other tips on parenting a stubborn and aggressive child without losing your cool, come share your story with other mommies in our comments section.
As sharing is caring… who knows, your story might inspire many!