Overcome the challenges of parenting a self-willed child with these effective measures.
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Parents of children often struggle with childhood tantrums and attitudes. So if you are one of them, we will help you understand how to deal with a stubborn child.
Stubbornness in children is natural, but this does not make the parent’s difficulties any less. Chores as simple as going to sleep, taking a bath, or eating can take a lot of convincing, ultimately leading to an argument. Dealing with this every day can be taxing. Therefore, it is essential to acquaint the child with the consequences of such behavior. You also need to appreciate their hard work and good behavior to get them to listen to you.
This post will help you with some tips to deal with a stubborn child.
Characteristics Of A Stubborn Child
Not every child that exercises free will is stubborn. It is important to fathom if your child is stubborn or determined before taking any strong action. Strong-willed children can be highly intelligent and creative. They ask a lot of questions, which may come across as rebellion. They have opinions and are “doers”. On the other hand, stubborn children stick to their opinion and would not be ready to listen to what you have to say.
Here are a few other characteristics that stubborn children may display
They have a strong need to be acknowledged and heard. So they may seek your attention often.
They could be fiercely independent.
They are committed and bent on doing what they like.
All children throw tantrums, but stubborn ones may do so more often.
They have strong leadership qualities – they can be “bossy” at times.
They like to do things at their pace.
Managing a stubborn child may be difficult, but it is not all bad.
Stubborn Child Psychology: Understanding Stubborn Children
If determination is one of your strong suits, you’d love to see that in your children as well. But the tricky part is to know the difference between determination and stubbornness. So how do you tell one from the other?
The dictionary meaning of determination is ‘firmness of purpose’.
Stubbornness is defined as having an unwavering determination to do something or act in a particular way. Simply put, it is refusing to change one’s thoughts, behaviors, or actions regardless of the external pressure to do otherwise.
Stubbornness in children can be genetic or an acquired behavior due to environmental influences (1).
Dealing with stubborn children might require extra patience and effort, as you would need to observe and understand your child’s behavior pattern carefully. Next, we will give you a few tips that might help in dealing with stubborn children.
Tips That Might Help To Deal With Stubborn Children
You may have a stubborn toddler who refuses to stay in their crib or brushes aside their cereal spoon every time you try to feed them. Or you may have a bullheaded six-year-old who insists on wearing the same clothes every day and stomps their foot to defy every rule or instruction you give them. Here are a few tips that could come in handy while dealing with the stubborn nature of your child.
1. Try to listen
Communication is a two-way street. If you want your child to listen to you, you have to be willing to listen to them first. Stubborn children may have strong opinions and tend to argue.
They may become defiant if they feel that they aren’t being heard. Most of the time, when your child insists on doing or not doing something, listening to them and having an open conversation about what’s bothering them can do the trick. For example, if your child is throwing a tantrum to finish lunch, then do not force-feed your child. Instead, ask them why they do not want to eat and listen – it could be because they are playful or having a tummy ache.
If you want your stubborn five-year-old child to listen to you, try to approach calmly and practically and not head-on.
2. Connect with them, don’t force them
When you force children into something, they tend to rebel and do everything they should not. The term that best defines this behavior is counterwill, which is a common trait of stubborn children. Counterwill is instinctive and is not restricted to children alone. Connect with your children.
For example, forcing your six-year-old child, who insists on watching TV past her bedtime, will not help. Instead, sit with them and show interest in what they are watching. When you show you care, children are likely to respond.
Children who connect with their parents or caregivers want to cooperate. “Establishing an unshakable connection with defiant children makes it easier to deal with them,” says Susan Stiffelman in her book Parenting Without Power Struggles.
Take that first step of connecting with your child today – hug them! (2)
3. Give them options
Stubborn children might have a mind of their own and don’t always like being told what to do. Tell your stubborn four-year-old child that she has to be in bed by 9pm, and all you will get from them is a loud “No!”. Tell your adamant five-year-old child to buy a toy you chose, and they will NOT want that. Give your children options and not directives. Instead of telling them to go to bed, ask them if they would want to read bedtime story A or B.
Your child could continue to be defiant and say, “I am not going to bed!”. When that happens, stay calm and tell them matter-of-factly, “well, that was not one of the choices”. You can repeat the same thing as many times as needed, and as calmly as possible. When you sound like a broken record, your child is likely to give in.
That said, too many options aren’t good either. For example, asking your child to pick one outfit from the wardrobe could leave them confused. You can avoid this problem by minimizing the options to two or three outfits picked by you and asking your child to pick from those.
4. Stay calm
Yelling at a defiant, screaming child will turn an ordinary conversation between a parent and a child into a shouting match. Your child might take your response as an invitation to verbal combat. This will only make things worse. It is up to you to steer the conversation to a practical conclusion as you are the adult. Help your child understand the need to do something or behave in a specific manner.
Do what it takes to stay calm – meditate, exercise, or listen to music. Play calming or relaxing music at home so that even your children can listen. Once in a while, play your child’s favorite music. That way, you can gain their ‘vote’ and also enable them to unwind.
5. Respect them
Your child would probably not accept authority if you force it onto him. Here are a few ways you can model respect in your relationship:
Seek cooperation, don’t insist on adherence to directives.
Have consistent rules for all your children, and do not be lax just because you find it convenient.
Empathize with them – never dismiss their feelings or ideas.
Let your children do what they can for themselves, avoid the temptation to do something for them, to reduce their burden. This also tells them that you trust them.
Say what you mean and do what you say.
Lead by example is the mantra you should follow here because your children are observing you all the time, according to Betsy Brown Braun, the author of You’re Not The Boss Of Me.
6. Work with them
Stubborn or strong-willed children are highly sensitive to how you treat them. So be watchful of the tone, body language, and vocabulary you use. When they become uncomfortable with your behavior, they do what they know best to protect themselves: they rebel, talkback, and display aggression.
Changing the way you approach a stubborn child can change how they react to you. Rather than telling them what to do, partner with them.
Use statements like “let’s do this…”, “how about we try that…” instead of “I want you to do … ”.
Use fun activities to get your children to do something. For example, if you want your stubborn child to put their toys away, start doing it yourself and ask them to be your “special helper”.
You could also time the activity and challenge the child to put the toys away faster than you can. This is a sneaky trick that mostly works.
Sometimes, it is necessary to negotiate with your children. It is common for them to act out when they aren’t getting what they want. If you want them to listen to you, you need to know what’s stopping them from doing so.
Start by asking a few questions like, “What is bothering you?” “Is something the matter?” or “Do you want anything?” to get them to talk about it. This tells them that you respect their wishes and are willing to consider them.
Negotiation need not necessarily mean that you always give in to their demands. It’s all about being considerate and practical.
For example, your child may not be willing to go to bed at a set hour. Rather than insisting, try and negotiate a bedtime that suits both of you.
8. Create a congenial environment at home
Children learn through observation and experience (3). If they see their parents arguing all the time, they will learn to imitate that. Marital discord between parents can lead to a stressful environment in the house, affecting the mood and behavior of the children. According to a study, marital discord may lead to social withdrawal and even aggression in children (4).
Understand the child’s perspective
To better understand your stubborn child’s behavior, try to look at the situation from their perspective. Put yourself in your child’s shoes and try to imagine what they must be going through to behave in such a way. The more you know your child, the better you can deal with their stubborn streak.
Empathize with the child even while not giving in to their demands. You can understand their disappointment, anger, or frustration and support them whilst being firm.
For example, if your child is not willing to do their homework, he or she is overwhelmed by the task. If there is too much to do or if your child is not able to focus, you can help by breaking the homework into smaller tasks that can be completed in a short time. You could include short, one or two-minute breaks between the tasks to make the activity less stressful for them.
10. Reinforce positive behavior
There will be times when you would not know what to do with stubborn children to control their anger and aggressive behavior. But if you react without thought, you may develop a negative attitude towards the problem and even reinforce their negative behavior unwittingly.
For example, your child may be saying “No!” to almost everything you say. Think about it – do you say “No” a lot? If yes, you are reinforcing negative behavior by example.
One way to change your stubborn child’s negative responses is the “Yes” game, a clever strategy recommended by marriage and family therapist Susan Stiffelman.
When playing this game, your child has to say “yes” or “no” to everything. Questions like “You love ice cream, don’t you?” “Do you love playing with your toys?” or “Do you want to see if your dinosaur floats in the bathtub tomorrow?” are likely to get a “Yes” from your child. The more your child responds positively, the more they are likely to feel like they are being heard and appreciated.
How To Deal With Some Common Problems With A Stubborn Child
Here are some common issues parents are likely to face while dealing with a stubborn child
How to potty train a stubborn child?
Potty training is difficult as it is, but when you are dealing with a stubborn child, it can become a pain. You can potty train your three-year-old stubborn and aggressive child by:
Talking about it.
Explaining to them how it is done.
Making it fun – don’t get serious if your child refuses to use the toilet.
Remember that a stubborn child may take longer to learn to use the toilet than an obedient one. You must remain patient and work with your child to help them reach the goal, rather than push them towards it.
2. How to get a stubborn child to eat?
Children tend to be very fussy when it comes to food. That said, you cannot always feed your child what they want. The best way to make sure your stubborn children get what is good for them is to make dinner time fun.
Use creative ways to present food to your little one.
Get them involved at the dinner table (ask them to set the table up, serve, etc. ).
Encourage them to try the food (just one bite) before rejecting it. Serve them small portions of everything and let them choose.
Reward them with a dessert or treat if they finish their meal.
3. How to punish a stubborn child?
Children need rules and discipline. Your child should know that there will be consequences good or bad, for their actions.
Make sure that they are fully aware of the consequences of breaking the rules.
Consequences should be immediate, especially when you are dealing with children so that they can connect their actions to the result. Time-outs, cutting down playtime, or TV time and assigning little chores can be a few ways to discipline the child. You could also get creative with consequences, based on the problem.
Remember that the idea is not to punish the child but make them realize that their behavior is wrong.
Stubbornness in children is common, but dealing with it daily may be exhausting for parents. However, knowing some tips on how to deal with a stubborn child could be helpful. While you must remain calm, listen to your child, and respect their opinions. However, do not give in to their demands or them; you might try giving them options and negotiating with them. You may also discipline them, but keep in mind that the goal is not to punish the child but to make them know that their conduct is inappropriate.
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Sagari was a math graduate and studied counseling psychology in postgraduate college, which she used to understand people better. Her interest in reading about people made her take up articles on kids and their behavior. She was meticulous in her research and gave information that could be of help to parents in times of need. An animal lover, vegan, and... more
Michelle Bowyer is the founder of Ocean Grace, a center for therapeutic counseling, behavior intervention, and relationship services. She is an accredited social worker with a Masters' in Social Work (MSWQ). With over 20 years of experience in providing support and interventions to children, adults, and families across three different countries, she aims to support parents, teachers, carers, and families... more
How To Handle Stubborn Kids Effectively
Temperament is something that we are born with. Children can have a temperament and if your child is stubborn, you must understand you are not alone who has a stubborn child. Many parents have stubborn children and it’s alright when the children are too young. But the way in which you handle your stubborn child will make all the difference in the kind of adult they turn out to be. The toddler phase and the teenager phase are considered the toughest to handle.
Video: How to Deal with a Stubborn Child (10 Effective Tips for Parents)
It is important to understand that stubbornness is a part of the personality of some children while in others, it is their way of nudging the boundaries and asserting their will. So, it falls to your lot to teach your child the various ways in which they can handle stress and express their feelings.
Characteristics of Stubborn Kids
Just because your child is particular about exercising their will does not make them stubborn. There is a fine line between being determined and being stubborn. Here are some stubborn behaviour characteristics to look out for:
Stubborn kids tend to question everything which can be mistaken for rebellion
They want to be heard and expect to be acknowledged which makes them want your attention frequently
They tend to be independent and fussy
It can be difficult to get them into a routine as they are free-willed
They may have frequent temper tantrums
They display leadership traits and can even appear bossy
They tend to do everything at their own pace
Psychology of Stubborn Children
To deal with your stubborn child, the right way, it is important first to understand why they are this way and what makes them this way. It is one thing for your child to be determined and another to be stubborn. Determination is defined as ‘firmness of purpose’ while being stubborn is ‘the refusal to change thought, behaviour, or action under any external pressure.’ Stubbornness can be genetic and also acquired behaviour that is learned by observing others. But this behaviour can be channelled to prove productive and mild your child into a well-rounded individual.
How to Handle Stubborn Kids
Infants, toddlers, teens – stubbornness can surface at any age and then continue into adulthood. As a parent, it is important that you find ways of handling your stubborn child in such a way that you can limit their behaviour without stressing out either of you. Here are some techniques for handling a stubborn child:
1. Don’t Argue
Stubborn children are always ready to face an argument head-on. So, don’t give them that opportunity. Instead, lend a listening ear to whatever your child has to say and turn it into a conversation instead of an argument. When you show that you are ready to listen to their side of the story, it makes them more likely to listen to what you have to say as well.
2. Establish a Connection
Do not force your child to do something that they do not want to. This will only make them more rebellious and they will be bent on doing exactly what they are not supposed to do. So, if you want your child to stop watching television, and do homework instead, try watching television with them for a while. This will bring in some camaraderie, and after a short while, you can ask your child if they’d like to do homework as you read your book or do some work sitting close by.
3. Offer Some Choices
Telling a stubborn child what to do is a sure-fire way of igniting their rebellious streak. Instead, offer them options to choose from as this makes them feel as if they have control over their lives and can independently decide what they would like to do. Keep the choices limited to avoid confusing your child and offer only two or three options. For instance, if they is to clean up their room, ask them if they would like to start with the bed or the closet first instead of saying, “where do you want to start?”
4. Step Into Your Child’s Shoes
Look at the issue at hand from your child’s point of view and try to understand why they are behaving in this manner. If you promised to take them to the park but have refused as the weather has turned bad, then you will need to explain to them why it is not possible to keep your promise. Your child will only see it as a broken promise, but by outlining why you cannot go out and by setting a later date for the outing, you can salvage the situation.
5. Maintain Peace At Home
Make sure that your home is a place where your child feels happy, comfortable, and secure at all times. Be polite to everyone at home, especially your spouse, as children learn from observation. They are likely to imitate what they see, so it is essential that you keep the peace and avoid arguments as well as trading insults in front of the child.
6. Brush Up On Your Negotiating Skills
Stubborn children find it difficult to absorb an outright refusal when they ask for something. So, instead, try to negotiate with them instead of laying down the law. For instance, if your child insists on listening to two bedtime stories, talk them out of it by reaching an agreement where they can pick a story for tonight and another one for tomorrow.
7. Encourage Positive Behaviour
Lead by example and present a positive attitude at all times. If you use the words ‘no’, ‘cannot’, or ‘will not’ a lot, then your child is also likely to do the same. Look at your child’s stubbornness with a positive outlook rather than being negative about it. Try to make a game out of it by asking your child questions that elicit a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response. Frame your questions such that the answer is ‘yes’ most of the time. This sends the message that your child is being heard and appreciated.
8. Develop Routines
Sticking to daily routines as well as weekly ones can help improve your child’s behaviour as well as performance in school. Bedtime needs to be defined and should be such that it provides for plenty of rest for your child. Lack of sleep and being tired can lead to behavioural problems in children between the ages of three and twelve.
9. Lay Down Rules And Consequences
Stubborn children need rules and regulations to thrive. So, set the boundaries and make your expectations clear at a family meeting. Ask your child for inputs on what the consequences are to be as well as their views on each of these. Consistency is important, but that does not translate into rigidity. It is important to be flexible at times, like when you are on holiday or on occasions when your child displays exemplary behaviour. This conveys to them that following rules can be rewarding too and is not intended to be stifling.
Problems With a Stubborn Child
Parenting a stubborn child is not an easy task. Every little thing can turn into a struggle each day if you do not find a solution fast. You may have come across plenty of information on how to control stubborn child behaviour, but every day is a new challenge. Disciplining a stubborn child might not be the best solution in all instances and finding a workaround might be more effective.
Most children can be fussy when it comes to food and meals and more so if the child has a stubborn streak. Being sneaky can be helpful here and try serving small portions of different food to your child and let them choose what they want to eat more of. You can also try to make food interesting by coming up with creative recipes with healthy ingredients. Also, try to involve your kid in mealtime chores such as setting the table. Rewarding them such as a favourite dessert for finishing their meals can also smooth things faster.
See if your child has difficulty completing the assigned homework or is overwhelmed by the amount to be written or learned. If that seems to be the case, you could break it down into shorter pieces to be completed in phases. Taking short breaks in between might get it done quicker than in one sitting. Another option is to combine it with another activity. For instance, learning spellings can be done while you are watering the garden with your child helping you out.
A popular cause of discord, this occurs every time your child wants to wear something that is not appropriate for the occasion or weather outside. One way of reducing friction is to sort out your child’s clothes and alternate them every couple of weeks. Also, put away the outfits that are season inappropriate, so there is one less reason for conflict. Anytime you want your child to change clothes, lay out two or three different outfits and ask them to choose. This way, they are happy about making the decision, and you are not pulling out your hair!
As bedtime approaches, your child starts running around and attempts to pump up the adrenaline, so they don’t fall asleep easily. So, around 30 minutes before it is lights out turn on some soothing music and dim the lights. Switch off the television and get your child to change into their pyjamas. Avoid a fight here by giving your child the option of choosing the nightdress and wearing it or taking your help. Just before setting them towards the bedroom, take a few minutes to connect with your child by asking them if they had anything to share about their day or just a simple question of whether it was a good day or a bad one.
Having a stubborn child is not a bad thing. In fact, it has been seen that children who have these characteristics often turn out to be achievers in academics as well as in their work life. They are less susceptible to give in to peer pressure which helps them steer clear of wrong things that their friends might be into. Practising effective discipline and making an effort to understand your child can go a long way in helping them turn into responsible adults albeit strong-willed.
Disclaimer: The information given in this article is a generic guide and not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional advice or treatment.
Also Read: Bad habits in Children and Ways to Deal With Them
Stubborn child: how to educate?
The manifestation of stubbornness in children is one of the stages of their personal development. Almost every child in preschool age goes through this difficult period for parents, testing their patience for strength. The task of mothers and fathers is to correctly respond to noticeable changes in the behavior of the baby and correctly correct it.
Causes of stubbornness
It is extremely difficult for parents to understand the origins of children's stubbornness. It would seem that preschool kids have a completely carefree life - they don’t even need to learn lessons yet. However, psychologists claim that stubbornness first manifests itself in children at the age of 3, when they begin to evaluate themselves and their personality in a new way. It is during this period that babies get acquainted with new emotions, which they still cannot fully control. The result is an overly vivid reaction to events and words, manifested in the form of disobedience, resentment, whims and sometimes even tantrums.
To correct a child's behavior, it is necessary, first of all, to establish the causes of the child's stubbornness. Most often, the following factors lead to disobedience of preschoolers:
Crisis of three years . It is believed that at 3-4 years old the child goes through his first age crisis, during which noticeable changes in behavior are observed. One of the brightest manifestations is stubbornness.
Emotional background in the family . Stubbornness can become a natural reaction of a child to frequent conflicts between parents and other family members. Thus, he tries to switch the attention of loved ones to himself.
Peculiarities of upbringing. Too soft attitude towards the child often leads to the fact that he feels himself the center of family attention. To any "disobedience" on the part of the parents, the baby responds with stubbornness. A similar reaction is possible in families where strict rules of upbringing are practiced.
Individual features of a preschooler. Do not forget that a child is a personality, which means that he develops his own character, his own temperament. Perhaps stubbornness is simply an integral part of his character.
Dealing with a child's stubbornness is more difficult than, for example, weaning from calling names. However, with the right approach to solving the problem, parents will be able to minimize the manifestations of their baby's disobedience.
It is very difficult to negotiate with a stubborn child. He always has his own opinion, disagreement with which can lead to a serious conflict. And attempts to force or even simply persuade him to do something, as a rule, end in a bright emotional outburst. You can’t succumb to such behavior, but you shouldn’t go to “resistance” either. The best way to solve the problem is to establish contact with the child, and then re-educate him.
Parents should understand that a child's stubbornness is most often not a behavioral vice, but a manifestation of internal emotional tension. Accordingly, the usual system of punishments and rewards will not give the desired effect, and, perhaps, will only aggravate the situation. Start simple - communicate with the child as often as possible, even during the manifestation of whims, try to react calmly, do not stop the dialogue and do not go to another room, but do not succumb to manipulation. Perhaps even this will be enough - the kid will understand that stubbornness as a tool of pressure on parents is ineffective, and will stop using it.
What else should and should not be done?
If you have established contact with a child, but he continues to be stubborn, you need to change the system of relationships in the family. There are a few simple rules for parents on how to raise a stubborn child:
Keep calm . If your toddler is throwing a temper tantrum, actively proving himself right, or refusing to do an errand, be patient and mind your own business. By reacting to bouts of stubbornness, parents can be said to give the green light to such behavior.
Explain your position . Simple prohibitions and requests for stubborn children do not work, so motivation and reasoning should be used. Explain to the child why it is impossible to behave one way or another, and why he must carry out certain tasks.
Improve the atmosphere in the family. If you know that family relationships are not going well, be sure to work in this direction. The child's stubbornness as a reaction to family problems is an indicator that they urgently need to be resolved.
Make time for your child. Children are often stubborn to get the attention of busy parents. It is enough to spend more time with the child, and his behavior will noticeably change - he will become more smiling, more accommodating and responsive.
Do not get into conflict. Arguing with a stubborn child is a useless and extremely exhausting activity. You will definitely not be able to achieve the obedience of the baby by confrontation, but most likely it will be possible to spoil an already tense relationship.
Create the illusion of choice. If the child refuses to comply with the request, you need to offer him a choice. Moreover, these do not have to be real alternatives - it is enough to create an illusion (“What are we going to do first: have lunch or put away the toys?”). In this case, the child will not perceive the request as an order and, accordingly, will calmly fulfill it.
Praise your child and don't compare them to their peers. During the period of personality formation, children are especially sensitive, so comparisons with others are inappropriate. Such statements will not motivate the child, but they will definitely lead to a decrease in confidence and aggravation of behavioral problems.
Each parent ultimately decides what to do if the child is stubborn and disobedient. However, regardless of the method of reeducation chosen, it is important to understand your children and try to find the origins of stubbornness. Parents may even have to accept the fact that some mistakes were made in the process of upbringing that influenced the formation of the child's behavioral problems. In any case, stubbornness in preschool age is more of a norm than a deviation. Therefore, it is not worth sounding the alarm and urgently contacting a child psychologist - over time, the problem will be resolved, and the baby will again become obedient and docile.
Would you call your child stubborn? If so, how did you deal with his disobedience? Share your experience in the comments - it will be useful to other parents.
Stubborn child: instructions for use | Chalk
When a new stubborn person comes into the world, there is no label attached to his leg with a warning to parents “Beware! Stubborn child!" But this personality trait can be identified from a very early age. American psychologist Robert J. Mackenzie wrote the book The Stubborn Child. How to set the boundaries of what is permitted ”after he himself became the father of such a child.
Mackenzie seems to know what he's talking about. From the first lines, he presses on the sore points of the parents of willful children. Anger, anger, disappointment, bewilderment, embarrassment, guilt, self-doubt and impotence are just some of the emotions and feelings that these moms and dads experience every day. If you have managed to sign your own parental incompetence or think that something is wrong with your child, Mackenzie reassures. Stubborn children are completely normal, but they are difficult to understand and need more guidance. They are so arranged that they learn any life lesson only when the consequences come. In addition, they constantly check the strength of the boundaries you have built. Parents should understand the personality traits of their stubborn, not try to change them, but correct their own behavior. Mackenzie explains in detail what to do and sorts out the main mistakes. The book describes different methods of education and provides examples from the practice of a psychologist.
Causes of stubbornness
It's all about temperament - a unique set of personality traits. A stubborn person can be identified at a very early age. One child, having learned to stand at a support, demonstrates this with pleasure to all relatives. It is useless to beg another - you cannot persuade him to show skill on purpose. To understand how temperament influences stubbornness, McKenzie suggests using the results of years of research by Alexander Thomas, Stella Chess, and Herbert Church at New York University.
They identified nine personality traits that manifest themselves in a child in varying degrees - from low to high. From purposefulness, impressionability, sensitivity, energy level and other traits, temperament is added. It can be very individual and differ greatly even among siblings.
Stubborn children by nature have a high degree of persistence, reactivity, distractibility
If you take temperament as a given, you will stop asking the question "Why does he do this?" and you will ask yourself “How can I manage him when he does this?”. In addition, knowing the temperament of your child, you can predict many of his reactions.
Temperament alone is not enough to educate a stubborn person. The child presents us with what nature has endowed him with, and the parents provide training for innate characteristics with upbringing. In the case of stubborn children, bad parenting habits will lead to very unpleasant consequences. After all, stubborn children do not make allowances for inefficiency to their parents. Sometimes a simple request to clean your room leads to a chain of incorrect parental behavior that is repeated over and over again. McKenzie calls it a "family dance" and encourages parents to stop wasting energy on things that don't work.
The main and most common communication mistakes when you want a stubborn person to listen to you:
Parental "no", which actually means "yes", "sometimes" or "maybe". This is the case when mom says: "Sweets can ruin your appetite" instead of "Sit down to eat, you'll get cookies after dinner."
I want, I hope and I should. This is how parents show respect, but for a stubborn person, such behavior will be a green light to continue not to do what is required of him. Say, "You can play by the rules, otherwise find yourself a different game" instead of "You'd better act right."
Repetition and reminder instead of clear boundaries: "Fold your Lego and only after that go outside."
Parents often give "second chances", but this is a dangerous trap in the case of a stubborn one. Say a clear “no” and always follow through.
Also, bribery, preaching, vague instructions, pleading and arguing, admonishing and even ignoring bad behavior are ineffective. But the parents of stubborn people already know this for sure.
Mackenzie says that in his office there are six swivel chairs that children always start to ride on. It is pointless for a stubborn child to say “Stop!”. He needs boundaries, so Mackenzie warns: "You can sit in my chair, observing two rules - do not twist on it and do not climb onto the chair with your legs, otherwise I will give you a regular chair." The stubborn one always checks the validity of the rule and still spins in his chair a minute later. Then the psychologist takes out an ordinary plastic chair and says: “Until the end of the appointment, this chair is yours.”
How to speak so that a stubborn child will hear
To be heard, parents do a lot of unnecessary things. Anger, theatrics, and strong emotions rob any message of clarity. If the usual notations, beliefs and a “second chance” join them, then it is possible to negotiate with a stubborn child so that he cleans his room forever. But what to do if your house has long looked like a minefield, and you are so exhausted by negotiations that you get angry before you even start a conversation. Mackenzie advises - exhale. And only after you calm down, name your requirements. It will be difficult at first, because the child is used to testing you and your words. Do not give up and act clearly according to the plan.
Don't shame, don't blame, don't dramatize.
Do not reject the child, but reject his bad behavior. If a child is fighting with a younger brother, say "Now stop fighting!" instead of "How would you feel if you were suddenly pushed?".
Your message must be precise and unambiguous. Instead of "Don't stay late today," say "Be home by 6 pm."
Your tone of voice is very important. An annoyed voice sends a message to your stubborn about losing control of the situation. He will definitely use this to bargain or buy time.
Specify the consequences of disobedience. Remember that a stubborn child is also an aggressive explorer. He will definitely ask himself the question: “What will happen if I don’t stop?”. Therefore, explain: "If you ride a scooter at home, I will have to pick it up." And pick it up if the ride around the house continues. Take away toys for three to four days if the child has not put them away. Turn off the TV if it refuses to turn down the volume as you asked. Take away food for five minutes if the child is playing with it. Do not buy a new item if the old one was damaged due to carelessness.
Remind who is in charge here: "Discussion time is up, you can do it right now or spend the next five minutes in your room."
Use a limited choice
Mackenzie believes that there should be few words, but a lot of action, so put threats and long blandishments in the past. Offer your child limited choices.
Say: “You can play with the ball in the yard, but if you hit the house with it again, I will take the ball. What you choose?". Even a three-year-old is able to choose: "Either stop blowing bubbles with a straw, or for the next three minutes I will take your glass of milk." Older children can be helped in conflicts: “Guys, is a minute enough for you to cool down and agree? Or go to your rooms for five minutes, and then you will put up. Choose!”. Each of these alternatives can suit the child, you really put him before a choice.
Use the timer
Set the timer for when you and your child need to cool down and when your stubborn one is playing for time. Don't play a broken record over and over again. Better say: “I turn on the timer, in 20 minutes your room should be clean. Otherwise, you will have to stay at home instead of the cinema.” And leave. If the room is not cleaned, let the consequences come. Never leave a timer with a child and do not instruct him to turn it on himself.
How to motivate a stubborn child
Set a good example for your child to be in the mood for obedience. In addition to the fact that you should not blame and shame, be able to apologize if you were wrong. Do not reproach "Can you at least obey sometimes?", "Do you have anything in your head?", "Is that all you can do?". And of course, forget about physical violence.
Your words must express faith in the child. Your positive messages will only encourage obedience. Therefore, when the child has done everything that you asked, be sure to praise him. Encourage him to make the right choice if he still prefers rollerblading on the lawn, riding where you allowed.
How long will it take to change stubborn behavior
Mackenzie promises that big changes will start in three months. But six months are needed to consolidate the new behavior of parents and the child. Over time, you will notice that the child will increasingly obey you instead of arranging exhausting tests of your words for strength. Do not expect that at first the son or daughter will say: "Mom, what a good fellow you are that you are behaving like this now.