"How to Deal with Stubborn Kids"

Most parents will agree that parenting can be challenging at times.  My kids are no exception.  Each stage seems to present new challenges.  My girls are a bit older now but I stick to many of the same tips that I learned when they were little.  As much as I love them, they can be complete jerk kids at times.  I like to avoid conflict whenever possible so when I realized motherhood requires being in an all out war at times, I was completely taken off guard.  So what is a mom to do when their adorable sweet child absolutely refuses to budge on something?...


Here are a few tips that have helped me.  I still use most of them but with teenagedom right around the corner I may have to figure out some new ones soon.  Yikes!


Tip #1  Don’t take it personally.  Often times when my kids are being defiant my own emotions became triggered.  I feel like I must have done something horribly wrong raising them and that was why they were acting the way they are.  The truth is it’s not about you.  Your child’s behavior is a refection of their temperament which is innate.   So try to stay calm (I know, easier said than done) focus on the present moment and try to respond in a non-emotional, neutral way.  


Tip #2  Offer limited choices.  Stubborn children are often times just wanting more control of their lives and their situations.  They feel safe with you so you are most likely going to be victim of their newly desired autonomy.  So, if you give them a little of what they want (control), chances are better that you will get what you want too.  For example, instead of giving your child applesauce for snack time, give him two choices.  “Would you like applesauce or a cheese stick?”  If he says goldfish let him know that that is not one of the options.  If he persists let him know that if he can’t decide you will decide for him.  I love this trick.  It works and it is a win-win!


Tip #3  Give warnings.  I have always tried to do this because it just seems nicer to give kids a warning about what is coming next.  This way you are respecting their time and hopefully they will learn to respect yours.  Before school I let my kids know when they have 20 minutes, 10 minutes, 5 minutes until we leave.  If they still are not ready I will announce I am leaving and then I do!  It’s amazing how fast they move when I start heading out the door.  


Tip #4 Just say yes!  Most parents say no a lot.  Try saying yes instead (even when it is really a no).  Instead of “no we can’t go out for yogurt tonight because your room is a disaster”, say, “yes, we can do that as soon as you clean your room.”


Tip #5  Connect Before You Direct.  This technique is from psychotherapist Susan Stiffelman who suggests if you show interest in what your child is doing they will feel connected to you and will be much more likely to do what you ask.


If all else fails remember this:  Studies show that strong-willed children are more liikely to be educational over-achivers and have high incomes as adults.  At least this is good news for frustrated parents.  Either way, keep doing your best and you will Discover Your Best Mommy or Daddy Self!