Stubborn Kids and how to get your way (hopefully)

Is anyone else’s day full of just trying to get the most menial tasks done but met with a brick wall?

My daughter is a stubborn little thing and I’ve no clue where she gets it from (firm side-eye at my wife, although I totally think I may be to blame too!).

There are a few really useful resources I’ve found online on effective ways to deal with a stubborn child, but as always, every child is different.

When you force children into something, they tend to rebel and do everything they should not. The term that best defines this behavior is counter-will, which is a common trait of stubborn children. Counter-will 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.

Tips for How to Deal with Stubborn Children:

Sometimes (every single day) it can seem like an uphill battle. However, there are a few tried and tested ways that might just work. At least they occasionally do for us.

  • Play into it – make it a game or race. Let’s race to get dressed and run to the door, ready? Go!. We often play ‘What are you eating?’ where we close our eyes and she takes a bit and we try to guess what she’s eating from the plate.
  • Find a ‘Yes’ – they’ve discovered the power of ‘No’, which is a good thing, but not always when you’re trying to brush their teeth or leave the house. To help move the conversation along, ask if they like ice cream, or if playing dolls is their favourite. Then move to a plan for after the task – “Can we play LOLs after we’ve brushed our teeth?”
  • Reverse Psychology – “I bet you’re not grown up enough to wipe your own butt!” Or “don’t you dare eat all your veggies, you’ll be too fast and I can’t catch you!”
  • More time – Sometimes they just need more time and less stress. Start the task earlier so you’re not running late. My daughter doesn’t really have a concept of time yet so my schedule means nothing.
  • Visualization – Along with drawings or photos, make a chart that shows the stages of the day so they know what to expect to do.
  • Tiny bribes – in case of emergency, a box of fruity tiktaks are handy to sparingly hand out as bribes. It’s a slippery path to the child refusing to do anything without a reward, as I’ve learned!
  • Stay calm! – don’t turn it into a battle of the wills or a shouting match. Help guide the conflict to a peaceful resolution.
  • Empathize – try to see the situation from their perspective. They’re spending all day being told what to do, where to sit, how to behave, and they might just need to have one piece of control.
  • Give options – instead of “Wear this, now!”, try “Which dress would you like to wear?”
  • Reward good behaviour, explain bad behaviour – Punishment can make the whole thing more stressful and next time they won’t remember the task, they’ll remember how the whole thing made them feel. If they do the task you need them to do, praise and reward with playtime or a fun task – something to give them a more positive memory. If they’re still defiant, explain what is going to happen if they continue to push back and be firm with a consequence.
  • Rules and consequence – “If you don’t do this, I’m going to have to take away an hour of TV.” Be consitent and follow through. Choose something that they can still be without and can be taken away in increments. If you take away a full day of TV/outside play at a time, you might run out of things to take away too quickly.

Raising people is fun, isn’t it? Remember, as parents, we’re meant to be in charge. They’re relying on us to have the answers, lead by example, and take care of their needs, even when they don’t want us to.

If you have more ideas or ways you’ve found that work, please, please add them in the comments below.

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