Raising a stubborn child can sometimes feel like life is a never-ending battle. Children who have a strong will often exhibit facets of their personality from a very young age. Your stubborn child might have refused to drink out of a bottle, or they might have refused to sleep until they were absolutely ready. While stubbornness in children does lead to some frustrating moments as a parent, it is helpful to realize that the same stubborn streak that is causing so many problems can eventually develop into personal strength that helps your child throughout their life. In fact, your primary goal right now is to help your child learn how to manage their stubborn streak so that they can get along with others and listen to authority figures.
Recognize Their Positive Characteristics
There is a difference between a child who has a naturally stubborn personality and one who simply throws a fit when things don’t go their way. A child with a strong-will is often highly intelligent, and they may ask higher-level questions about why they are expected to do certain things. Children with a strong will may also be self-starters that strive to be leaders among their peers. Seeing that there is an upside to your child’s behavior helps you maintain a positive attitude as you nurture those good traits.
Try Listening to Them First
When a strong-willed child balks at a request, they tend to quickly get worked up into a frenzy. Trying to talk over them or argue will only make things worse. Instead, take a few minutes to let your child explain themselves. Although you don’t want to stand for excuses, letting your child express themselves gets the anger out so that they can listen better to reasoning.
Build a Strong Connection
The intuitive nature of a strong-willed child means that they can often tell when someone dislikes them or is angry. Take the time to build a strong relationship with your child when things are going well. This bond helps you instantly connect with them when they get upset.
Use the Two Choices Technique
Giving your child options gives them a sense of control that can stop a tantrum in its tracks. When you give choices, try to keep them within the range of what you find acceptable. For instance, you could tell your child that they can clean their room before or after dinner. Either way, they will clean their room, but they will feel like they have a choice over when it happens. Keep in mind that too many choices gets confusing. Limit the options to two, and you’ll see your child begin to use more acceptable responses.
Adopt a Team-Minded Approach
Strong-willed children will respond negatively to common tactics that parents resort to such as yelling. Instead of getting angry with your child, try using terms such as “let’s try to figure this out together.” Showing your child that you are on their side helps them to calm down and realize that you have their best interests in mind.
Stubbornness may be an innate personality trait that your child will have for the rest of their life, but it can be tamed. Remember to remain firm with your child while also adopting an empathetic approach that helps guide them through those tough moments in life. Although it won’t always be easy, watching your child develop into a strong leader that knows when to yield to authority is one of the best rewards you can enjoy as a parent.