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Oh god! How do I handle my kid's stubbornness?

“We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today.” ~ Stacia Tauscher

Every human being is born with a temperament and it’s very usual for kids to be stubborn at times, especially when they are young. But how you handle your kid’s stubbornness greatly impacts your kid’s personality and adulthood.

Stubbornness in your kids makes them refuse what they are asked to do and throw tantrums over what they want to do. The probability of stubbornness increases when kids start to think their parents are ignoring them or they don’t love them anymore. What does their stubbornness look like? When you ask them to eat salad, they might cry over a burger. When you say no to the dress they are willing to have, they could possibly shout their heart out. You want them to take a shower after their outdoor games in the evening, they might want to eat and doze off.

We all want our kids to be organised and on time but kids constantly create hurdles by setting their own wants first. And here we all feel the challenge of getting them right without conflicting with their wants but unfortunately, this doesn't work out, which increases their stubbornness. To make them listen to you, listening to them, appreciating their good behaviour and hard work is equally important.

It is a challenge for you to manage your kid’s stubbornness and to help them learn to behave in a healthy and socially acceptable way. Still, at the same time, it is essential for their emotional, moral, and social development.

If you or your partner is someone who takes a stand for a purpose then there is a high chance your kid will inherit that determinism in him/her. Just to not get confused and stop your kid from learning to take a stand, you have to understand the difference between your kid’s determinism and his/her stubbornness. Let’s quickly see the characteristics of a stubborn kid:

  • They might show temper tantrums.

  • They seek acknowledgement, frequent attention, and a need to be heard.

  • They exhibit leadership skills and might appear dominating or bossy.

  • They question everything. People often misunderstand it as rebellious behaviour.

  • They are intelligent, creative, and highly independent.

  • They are highly committed to a task if they take it up and will not rest until it's done;

  • They like to work at their own pace and don’t hesitate even if the task they have chosen is dangerous or difficult for them.

Dealing with a stubborn kid might require more effort and patience as you’ll need time to observe, recognize and understand their behavioural patterns.

Let us check out a few tips to deal with your kid’s stubborn behaviour:

  1. Have a Peaceful and Open Conversation: To know what is going on in your kid’s mind, it is important to have an open conversation with them. There could be a big reason behind their stubborn behaviour, try to find that out. Many times you might have seen kids constantly crying and acting stubborn if asked to do something. Don’t lash out at them. Instead, sit calmly and peacefully and ask what’s bothering them and why are they acting stubborn.

  2. Use Positive Statements instead of saying ‘No’: We can’t let our kids do everything they want for obvious reasons. How about stopping them but without using the word ‘No’? If I ask how many of you like the word ‘No’ for an answer, I bet most of you will reply negatively. Kids also get irritated listening to ‘No’ for an answer because of their mischievous and curious behaviour to know it all. Instead of saying, ‘Don’t touch the hot iron’, say, ‘If you touch the hot iron, you’ll hurt and burn yourself’. This way you’ll not only warn them but will also tell them the consequences of their action. Kids being kids, even if they do the prohibited activity, they’ll recall you warning them about the consequences. They will learn the lesson and will remember it later.

  3. Build Connection: If you ask your kid to take up a particular task the chances are you’ll get a ‘No’ as an answer. Try to engage in the activities with them, it will bring you both closer and will help in creating a connection with them. Once you engage with them in their activities, it will narrow down the possibility of them saying ‘No’ and hence, you can try to shift them to another activity of your choice after some time.

4. Provide Choices: There is more than one way of accomplishing something. How about offering them options? More than two choices might overwhelm them. Getting choices will create a sense of independence in your kid and they’ll get the assurity that their opinions matter to their parents. It will increase their self-esteem and self-confidence as well. For example: If you want your kid to eat fruits, give them two different fruits and ask them to choose. This will work not only in your kid’s favour but yours as well. Your kid gets an opportunity to choose and will consume the fruit you want.

5. Use Reinforcements and Discipline: Reinforcements and positive punishments are often used to discipline a kid to encourage or eliminate a particular behaviour. In reinforcements, an object or behaviour is added or eliminated to increase or decrease a specific behaviour. In positive punishments, a consequence is added to an unwanted or inappropriate behaviour just to eliminate that behaviour. For ex: If your kid is not eating healthy veggies, you can add more veggies to their next meal and they can’t get the chocolate unless they finish the veggies. This will make your kid eat the whole veggies when you offer them the next time without any tantrums. The goal is to eliminate your kid’s tantrums during healthy food meals.

6. Set Rules and Discuss Consequences: Stubborn kids thrive better if they have some set rules to follow. As much as setting rules is important, it is also important to discuss the possible consequences of breaking the rules. It will make them aware of the situations they might have to face if they break the rules and it will help them to follow the rules.

If you see your kid as an individual with opinions, thoughts, likes, and dislikes and not just as your small kid dependent on you for their needs and whom you feel responsible for, you’ll get a whole new perspective to look at.

We wish you happy parenting!


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