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If you find yourself hearing the word “no” more often from your cute little child, you discover that they consistently refuse to do basic things like go to sleep on time, eat dinner or take a shower, and feel that your home has become a battlefield of will between you and them – You could say that your child has become quite stubborn. Don’t worry though, you’re in good company – many parents have to deal with their children’s stubbornness, a trait that comes at various stages of their development.
However, you should know that if you just adopt the right attitude – dealing with a stubborn child can become simpler than you think. To help you understand how to do this, we’ll briefly explain what characterizes stubborn children and why they become stubborn, and we’ll provide you with six helpful tips that’ll help you bring your child back to the path of listening, cooperation and helpfulness.
What characterizes stubborn children and why do they become stubborn in the first place?
You need to understand – not all children who express a want for some independence are considered stubborn; It is important to determine whether your child is indeed stubborn or perhaps simply determined, and only then act. Stubborn children are characterized by high intelligence and creativity; They ask many questions, such that in the end can open the door to rebellion; They have their own positions and they are “people of action”. Stubborn children regularly seek to be heard and catch their environment’s attention, they show extra independence, are determined to do what they love and have clear leadership skills, which can also make them seem domineering from time to time. Many children experience temper tantrums, but in the most stubborn of their children, they can erupt quite often.
Stubborn children are also characterized by rigid thought – they actually refuse to change the way they think, behave or act, even when faced with external pressure. While in childhood this trait presents parents with serious difficulties, know that I can really pay off and be beneficial in adulthood – since in various studies it has been found that children who tend to reject rules and norms in their youth grow up to be outstanding and high-achieving adults both in education and in their professional careers.
6 ways to deal with stubborn children
1. Listen, don’t argue
Communication is a two-way street – if you want your child to listen to you, you need to listen to them first; A determined child usually has strong positions and can be argumentative – if they feel that their voice isn’t being heard, their tone can become defiant and disrespectful. Most of the time when your child insists on doing something that you asked them not to, or the opposite – listening and talking about what is bothering them can relieve the tension and help you persuade them to act the way you want them to. So how do you teach a stubborn five-year-old to listen to you? Let them lead the way, give them space to express themselves in a calm and practical way, and don’t try to go “head to head” with them.
2. Communicate with them, don’t force them
When children are forced to do something against their will, they tend, by their very nature, to rebel and do everything in their power to disobey. The term that best describes this behavior is “counter-will”: a concept borrowed from psychology, which means instinctive impulse to resist any sense of coercion or constraint. This is characteristic not only of children but of people in general, especially those who are stubborn. To overcome this, you need to communicate with your children and not force things on them; For example, if your child insists on watching TV even after bedtime, don’t try to force them to stop watching.
Instead, sit down with them and show them that you’re interested in what they’re watching. The more interest, concern, and open communication you show, the more willing they will be to come to you. In the end, when children communicate well with their parents they will most likely be interested in cooperating.
3. Give them options
Although they always seem small and relatively new in the world, it is worth knowing that children develop their own attitudes and opinions very quickly, and as we’re sure you can already tell, they don’t really like being told what to do. Therefore, when you want your stubborn child to do something, it is important that you give them choices and not just explicit instructions; If, for example, they refuse to go to bed, instead of commanding them and trying to leave them with no choice, offer them something that will give them a choice in the matter, such as: “What story do you want me to read to you before you go to sleep?” – It is likely that in just a few moments you’ll see them tucked away in bed waiting to hear that story they picked.
However, you should know that giving a child too many options is also not good; If, for example, you ask them to choose one outfit out of their whole closet, this is a choice that may leave them confused and make it difficult for them to decide. You can avoid this problem if you limit their choice to just 2-3 options.
4. Stay calm
While arguing with a stubborn child can be very irritating and exasperating, scolding, shouting, and raising your voice to overcome their disobedience may make the situation even worse. Once you raise your tone, your child may see it as an invitation to a verbal war, and it can all just escalate into a useless shouting match. Since you are the adult in the picture, it is your responsibility to navigate the conversation to practical places and to find solutions, instead of losing your temper. To do this, before or after the conversation, do whatever you can to stay calm; Do breathing exercises, exercise or listen to soothing music at home, so your child can listen and calm down with you.
5. Respect them
If you want your children to respect you and your decisions, you have to respect them back; Your child will not accept your authority if you impose it on them. Here are some examples of how you can give and receive respect in your relationship:
Look for cooperation, not following instructions.
Set rules and boundaries for all your children, and don’t be negligent about enforcing them just because it’s convenient for you.
Identify with your child and never reject their feelings or ideas, nor underestimate them.
Let your child do what they can themselves, and fight the urge to do everything for them; Also, make sure to tell them that you trust them.
Lead by example – this is the mantra you should repeat to yourself and act on
While negotiation is a concept that sounds like something you would conduct only in business or politics, it is also sometimes necessary when dealing with stubborn children. Children tend to behave negatively when they don’t get what they want, so when you want your child to listen to you, you need to understand what is stopping them from doing so.
Follow these steps:
Start by asking them questions such as: “What’s bothering you?”, “Is something bothering you?”, “Do you want something?” – all this tells them that you respect their feelings and desires and want to take them into consideration.
From here you can move forward to talk and negotiate with them. Of course, that doesn’t mean you have to give in to all their demands, but you should be considerate and practical.