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Stubborn children are both a blessing and a curse, unfortunately for my parents, I am still just as stubborn now as I was then
However, contrary to popular belief I think it is mostly a good thing, it helps me not compromise on my beliefs, it makes me stand up for what I believe in and it helps my confidence. There are obviously downsides too and while I don’t want to discourage stubborn-ness, it does cause a problem when my stubborn child is being unnecessarily unreasonable and won’t budge (not that he takes after me at all!)
If you have stubborn children (or child) you’ll know that straightforward telling them what to do is never going to work and that is partly because they want to be in charge. Recently as we are nearing the 5 year old marker I have found myself getting more and more yelly, which I hate! I don’t like shouting and I definitely don’t like being a screamy, pleading parent that can’t deal with the kid in front of me. Let’s be honest, sometimes kids are completely unreasonable and you have to ride the storm, but so far I have found some of these tactics and tricks get him round to my way of thinking with minimal shouting on both sides! (I am supposed to be the parent after all!)
Children (and I) really don’t like being told what to do, (let’s be honest, who does) so when I tell him bedtime is at 7pm, the usual reply I get is a resounding “nope”. So instead, I focus on the routine before bedtime and give lots of different options to choose from e.g. if he would like a bath before having a story or if we are going to get our PJ’s on early and read an extra story in bed (we are big on toddler reading in this house). Focusing on the options and activities before bed gives him an illusion of power and this helps to calm him down and stop him focusing on the “I am getting put to bed at this time” to “look at all the things I get to do”.
*Disclaimer, I have no magic solution for when they ask for extra, extra stories once they are in bed, but hey I got them there without hassle so I will take the win!*
One of my personal favorites and to be honest the one I resort to the most! I think my little guy’s first string of words was along the lines of “I’ll make you a deal!”. This is a bit of a contested subject, because it takes some of the power away from you by “giving up” something. That being said, there are certain deal breakers and non-negotiables in this house and I find they work better if you are willing to budge on some of the smaller things so for me it is about picking your battles. The way this normally happens is exactly like business, aim high and then settle near where you wanted in the first place and for us it is normally food negotiations.
My guy loves his food, a little too much so he scoffs through his dinner and then expects about 2-3 puddings so now we have negotiated so that he eats his dinner, then a piece of fruit and then his sweet pudding so he’s eating more of the good stuff! And yes, if he eats it all without a fuss he normally gets a second pudding as well but that is where I give a little. If they start to cause a fuss, sometimes it’s easier to just ask “what do you want” and then you can go from there, rather than focusing on the whining or shouting just talk through it and normally the fact they are being heard and taken seriously calms them down and they are more reasonable. (and other times you have to ride the storm)
Work With Them
Stubborn children tend to be highly sensitive especially to how you treat them, so it’s crucial to watch the body language, tone, and vocabulary you use. I have found if I am in a bad mood and get a bit snappy, this can resort in the same behaviour back. As hard as it can be, changing the way you approach them or certain situations seems to have mostly worked for us and has improved the reaction we get back which helps to avoid confrontation before it begins. A prime example of this is rather than telling them to tidy their toys, help them do it or ask them to be your “special helper” or turn it into a game.
I know this works, but it is the hardest for me to deal with, especially as a stubborn person myself. Yelling at a stubborn, screaming child will turn into a parent vs child shouting match and will only make things worse. As the parent it is my responsibility to try and steer the conversation to find a practical solution and with stubborn children, this can be a lot easier said than done. That being said, taking a second or a deep breath helps me to stop snapping back immediately and although I don’t think I am calm, I am definitely more reasonable. One thing I have noticed though is that the calmer you are with dealing with them, the calmer they are when they want something, they don’t shout and demand, they ask and they shout a lot less because it doesn’t work to get them (or you) what you want.
Give Them Respect
This is a biggie for me, if you want your children to respect you or your decisions, you need to show them respect because stubborn children won’t accept authority if you force it onto them, sure they will do as they are told for a time but that won’t last in the long term. One of the phrases I loathe the most is when a parent tries to justify what they are saying or doing with the phrase “because I am the parent and you are the child, that’s why!” it neither promotes respect to them, or you and is just a cop out for explaining or teaching your children. Consistent rules obviously help, but so does giving them a little more responsibility and letting them make their own mistakes themselves, if you respect that they have to make their own decisions, even at this young age, they will respect your “wisdom” when they need it.
Let’s be honest, it’s no secret that dealing with stubborn children can be stressful and there are days when you are going to throw quiet parenting out of the window, but one of the important ways (for me) to deal with that is to sit down and apologise on both fronts, how will your child respect you if they see you doing things wrong and not owning up or dealing with them. So in this house, although we can get quite yelly, we at least try to fix things and I think that’s the key to stubborn children!