The idea of nurturing a strong-willed child may seem daunting to some, but fear not! With these helpful tips, you can not only create a stronger bond with your little one but also foster their independence and unique personality. Check out our expert tips on raising a stubborn kid.
My daughter’s repeated cries of “mom can’t do it; mama can’t do it” echo around the mudroom. She keeps putting the wrong feet in her yellow rain boots but refuses to give up. At times like these, my mind races with a thousand scenarios involving my independent child as she develops.
Despite my best efforts to get out of the home every 20 minutes, I love her for the fierce determination she faces each day.
My child is quite stubborn, so I need to be patient, calm, empathetic, and stable as a parent. In order to help parents reach a happy medium while dealing with resistant children, here are five suggestions for doing just that.
Little ones who are naturally headstrong enjoy taking the reins and making their own decisions. Let kids take charge of many aspects of their lives. In the words of parenting expert Holly Nordenberg of Madison, Wisconsin, “let children make decisions that don’t matter in the broad scheme of things,” such as what to wear, what color cup to use, and which swing to use at the park.
Lorie Anderson, a specialist in parenting, is in agreement. “You can’t just, ‘laid down the law,’ as it’ll only drive them to get upset and more resistant,” says Anderson, founder of Mom Informed, a website providing information and services to parents from infancy through adolescence.
Remember, though, that you may provide people choices that lead to wise judgments no matter what they do. My daughter has the option of wearing either a pink or blue sweater when it’s chilly outdoors, but whichever one she chooses, she’ll be toasty and comfortable all day long. It doesn’t matter if she chooses blueberries or an orange as a snack because she’ll be eating fruit either way because I give her what she asks for.
Take It Easy
‘Stubbornness’ isn’t always what it seems. For instance, perhaps your kid is being expected to perform something above their current abilities. Maybe they haven’t learned how to deal with the stresses of their surroundings.
Just relax, ask your kid some questions, and hear what they have to say. It could help reveal the motivations or issues at play in their actions.
You should encourage your children to be themselves and make their own decisions, but you also need to establish some ground rules. According to Anderson, “the easiest approach to enforce standards is to have a fixed pattern,” such as having regular homework and sleep routines. You won’t constantly be hanging over them, and they’ll gain confidence as they learn to complete routine tasks independently.
Rules are inevitable, and teaching them to your child at home will prepare him or her for life in society. Rules help establish order, and while children will inevitably test those boundaries from time to time, the CDC advises that parents remain persistent in enforcing consequences for rule breaking.
Give your child more responsibility and help them learn to manage their own expectations by including them in discussions about rules and limitations as they get older.
Use Yourself as an Example to Guide Others
Consider whether you are setting a good example for your child by demonstrating the traits you hope they will adopt. In the face of adversity, your resolute response will certainly cause your child to harden their stance.
Instead, you should help them cope with negative emotions by acknowledging them, ensuring them know their feelings are significant and genuine, working with them to find solutions, and learning relaxation strategies. Having patience and consistency is essential, but the rewards are great, even for young children, as Nordenberg explains.
The best time to teach your child relaxation methods is before they need them. How can your child deal with stressful situations, and what can they do to relax their body and mind? You can advise things like going for a walk in the fresh air or just taking a few slow, deep breaths. Your child will benefit from learning to take deep, steady breaths in preparation for times when they may become upset.
My toddler is still in the process of developing an emotional vocabulary, so I check in with her several times a day to see how she’s doing. How do you feel? How thrilled are you? You must be kidding, right? Do you feel envious? Can I ask whether you’re feeling down? Then, if she seems upset, I’ll ask if she’d like to talk about it. Occasionally she does, and I can help her discover solutions, but other times she doesn’t, and it’s fine to give her space for that.
Remember to underestimate the power of a kind word or a warm embrace as reinforcement methods.
Choose Your Battles
Some children are just going to have to learn the hard way. Thus, you might find that your stubborn youngster goes ahead and does whatever it is you try to keep them from doing.
“Although it is your responsibility to protect children from harm, it is also beneficial to allow them to learn via experience rather than simply being told. It’s excellent that they want to push the envelope, since by doing so, they’ll find out the consequences of their actions “Anderson remarked.
What she recommends instead of instructions are cautionary notes. If you tell your child to put up their hood because it’s raining and they don’t, and it gets wet, they’ll learn the importance of listening to what they’re told the hard way.
Anderson argues that allowing teenagers to “go through this process” before they pose a serious risk to themselves is the best course of action.
Strong-willed children often display admirable qualities such as determination and focus. While their stubbornness can be trying at times, perseverance on your part will pay off in the form of a strong, self-reliant, and creative adult. Don’t be surprised if their obstinacy turns out to be one of their best qualities.