Handling a stubborn child, especially during those younger years, can be quite tough. When getting them to do even the simplest of things becomes a real problem, and when they throw fits and tantrums that make everything difficult, it can take a toll on you as the parent.
So how do you deal with a stubborn child? The short answer is, do not give in to their tantrums. Do not fall for their tricks and do not give in to their unrealistic demands. That sounds way too easy, doesn’t it? Trust me, putting it into practice is a whole other story.
Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of how to handle your stubborn child, let me tell you about my own experience dealing with mine.
My son will be turning two this November. I’ll be honest here; those first few months after he turned one were a complete nightmare for me. There were times when I struggled with him so much that I had to go to almost every platform looking for information on how to cope with him.
At first, I used to think something was wrong with him or maybe I was doing this whole parenting thing wrong. But after doing extensive research and reading up on this issue, I discovered that what we were going through was very normal and happens to a lot of parents.
After carrying out extensive research and reading about other parents’ experiences, I came up with a few pointers. Have these worked for me? Absolutely! Read on to find out how to handle your stubborn child.
1. Understand your child
He’s probably throwing things around, rolling on the ground or basically just throwing a fit. Try to understand him. He’s not doing all that for no reason. He’s frustrated because he’s having a hard time either communicating or getting attention from you.
When they are that young, they usually don’t know how to handle emotions. So it is up to you to teach him how. Your child might throw a toy because he hasn’t figured out how to use it.
So how do you go about it?
Try to understand your child. And the best way to do it is by looking at the situation from their point of view.
Whether you’re the parent or are just spending some time with a child, the first thing you have to do when dealing with them is to walk in their shoes. Try finding out why they are frustrated. Knowing the cause will help you figure out how to help them.
There are so many times I had to limit screen time for my boy, and it always ended up in him screaming and throwing stuff around. I never understood why he preferred watching cartoons all day yet he had all the toys he needed. He was so into TV that he couldn’t listen to anything he was told to do.
I chose to understand my baby. I understood that he is a child and kids love cartoons. So instead of getting mad and frustrated too, I made him understand that he can find all the fun he gets from cartoons from playing with his toys or riding his bike. All you need to do is view things from his perspective and changing his mind becomes quite easy.
2. Choose your battles
One of the biggest insecurities parents can have is their child not recognizing their authority. You will always find yourself trying to command everything for them to know who’s boss. But sometimes experience is the best teacher. Let them do what they want at times. Don’t fall for every small rebellion. This will only make it fun for them.
Let them have their way once in a while but ensure that the freedom you give them is within bounds. If you want him to wear that new white shirt for church but he wants his favourite Spiderman T-shirt, let him choose between the two.
Giving your child a choice satisfies his need to make his own decisions. Don’t give more than two choices because it easily overwhelms children.
3. Be positive
Avoid saying ‘no’ too often. Every child needs to hear a ‘no’ to realize your stand but making it a norm makes the child get used to it. Use the positive version of the ‘no’ statement.
Tell her to walk rather than not to run. Tell her to leave her shoes on instead of ‘do not remove your shoes’. Saying no all the time can breed resentment and make them even more rebellious.
Complementing works wonders. Let her know that she can also do something right by herself. Always look for that one thing she did right on that day and praise her for it. It makes her know that she is not always subject to punishment or being disciplined.
Other methods of positive reinforcement include giving a high five, giving a pat on the back or a hug, offering praise, giving a thumbs-up, telling another person how you are proud of your child while your child is listening, and my personal favorite, clapping and cheering.
Whenever my boy does something good and we all clap and shout yaaay!!! He runs around and jumps all over. Laughing, smiling, feeling proud and accomplished. You can tell it means a lot to him. That usually melts my heart.
4. Use their triggers to trick them
Beating an opponent in their own game is always the most unpredictable move. This is no different when it comes to handling kids. Know your child’s triggers and use them against their resistance. Does he love watching Pj Masks? If yes, then tell him that you’ll let him watch that after he’s done collecting his toys and putting them away.
Also, make what you want them to do fun and rewarding. Explain to him that after he is done studying, he will have the remote or his tablet.
5. Communication is key
Communicate with your child. Don’t just bark orders and tell them what to do. Instead, explain what and why you want them to do it. Counterwill is a common trait in stubborn children especially when they feel like they are always being bossed around.
Making an unshakeable connection will always make it easier for you to deal with them. Try and listen to your child instead of arguing every point you want driven home. Communication goes both ways. If you want your child to listen to you, you have to be willing to listen to them too.
Whenever my son whines in protest of something, I usually tell him to use his regular voice because I can’t understand him when he whines like that. I don’t tell him to ‘stop whining’. Instead, I tell him to communicate using his words. With time, he understands that the only way mommy can understand him is if he uses his words.
6. Work with your child
All a stubborn child needs to express rebellion, aggression or to talk back is a small trigger from you. If you walk around issuing commands in the house, you might as well find yourself doing everything you ask of them yourself.
Do things with them rather than telling them to do it. Start picking up his storybooks and tell him to come help you. Also, make house activities fun for them. Let it look like a competition and say whoever finishes first gets to be called a winner for a whole week.
7. Always stay calm.
You are the adult and helping your child behave in a certain manner is your responsibility. Always stay calm whenever you are dealing with a stubborn child. You cannot afford to lose your cool because you won’t solve anything in the end.
If you feel that you’re getting frustrated and are about to lose your cool, leave the room and calm yourself before coming back to deal with your child. You can listen to calming music, meditate, or read something.
If you keep yelling at a stubborn child, they will take it as a reason to turn the conversation into a shouting match. It is important to deal with every situation with a calm mind. You can make it even more fun by doing calming activities together. You can both listen to music or read a book together.
8. Do a disappearing act
When you are convinced that your child can do something on their own, leave them and go somewhere else in the house. If it is their homework they are doing, tell them they have to come to you if they have any questions and not vice versa. This is great because it gives them a sense of control.
Being overly controlling can upset your kids, and if they happen to be stubborn, it will rub them the wrong way. So give them space and let them be responsible for themselves for a while.
If they have to walk across rooms to come ask a question, they definitely don’t want to do that many times. This will make them think before they come to you for assistance. They will want to solve it themselves just to avoid the long walks across the house. This is a great way to challenge them.
Remember to check on them a few times, maybe halfway through.
9. Stand your ground
If you do not always do what you say, none of what you say to your child will seem serious. If you don’t stand your ground, your child will know that whatever you say is not important. If mommy doesn’t do what she says either so why should the baby do it?
Your kids look up to you, so if you want them to do anything, you have to show them how to do it. Rigidity in decisions always shows where you stand and whether they like it or not, your kids will always have to do it.
Standing your ground comes in handy when every other tactic fails. When she insists on not buckling up even after promising to give her your phone, you can always improvise and be the dictator.
10. React to bad behavior
Do not overlook anything wrong your child does. This does not necessarily mean scolding or shouting at them. Just don’t be so over caring to let what they do wrong pass. Let them know it is wrong and also understand the consequences often.
Ignoring bad behavior will motivate the stubborn child to continue with bad behavior.
11. Be a good example at home
Children learn from experience and observation. Studies show that marital discord can lead to social withdrawal and aggressiveness in children. Children are always the first victims whenever parents fight.
You should, therefore, create a positive environment at home and let your children grow in it. Positive energy brings good luck and fortune to a family. If your child sees his parents argue all the time, he will emulate the behavior which will only make him more stubborn. It will also encourage him to act out every time.
Every parent wants a better life for their children and good parenting is the best way to offer them a good life. While some people might not notice it, it is the most important part of life. How you bring up your child is how they will live their entire life.
Parenting is also very challenging, and every parent wants to do it right. When a child is growing, all they want is solid care and consistency so don’t look at it as being stubborn but rather a stage of growth that your child needs your help.