Some battles in life seem impossible to be won, which completely drain your patience, stamina, and energy. Yes, the battle with your stubborn child seems almost lost when your energy levels are exhausted. However, some battles are not won by strength, but by strategy. Here are some pointers that will help you with this challenge. But first, what qualifies as stubborn behavior?
Stubbornness means sticking to your opinion and not listening to others at all. It does not mean that every strong-headed child is rigid. Strong-headed children are often very sharp, creative, and not obstinate. When even simple everyday tasks are a huge challenge, you know you have a stubborn child.
Fear not. Here are some pointers to help you with your stubborn child, and still keep you sane. Be calm An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. Same way, a shout for a shout makes the small tantrum a yelling match, wherein there is no winner (only people who think they are the winners).
While dealing with a stubborn child, you have to keep calm and not mimic their behavior. If your child is having a tantrum, then it is not going to make the situation better by joining in.
Don’t give in to irrational demands.
It is easier said than done. When you are under extreme duress due to the tyrannies of your stubborn child (just kidding, or am I?), it is easy to throw rationality out the window. But don’t do it. When it is an irrational demand (like asking for a pony), if you think of giving in, then you have lost the battle forever.
Once you give in to these demands, that is too much, you will always keep doing it. Once your children realize that they will get whatever they want by being stubborn, they won’t stop (who would?). And this won’t just be a ‘one-time’ thing.
Tell them clearly and in simple terms what they can and can’t have. Don’t try to chew words. Put it clearly in front of them. And no matter what the prevailing opinion is, they do understand.
Have ‘the talk’ after the situation has diffused.
Should there be an ‘incident,’ trying to make them understand when the incident is ongoing will not help at all in getting it under control? In addition to it, anything you say during the stubborn phase will be just like trying to explain to a wall. Once your child is quiet, go, and talk to them about the incident. It will have an impact on them, and they will perceive better.
Have a dialogue with your child.
To follow through with this point you have to know the answer to have a fundamental question. What is dialogue? Dialogue is where one person speaks while the other listens and vice versa. So, how to implement this with your child?
Talk to them and then when they are talking listen to them. Don’t forget that the second part, the one where you listen, is just as important. Don’t bring the vibe that you know everything in the conversation. That will be counterproductive.
Also, remember not to be judgemental. Kids may say things that are not making much sense to you. Still don’t reject it outrightly. Make a point to understand their perspective and together find a solution to the problem.
Have Rules at Home
Rules should be made with kids fully involved. Unless they take ownership, they are unlikely to follow. Once rules are set everyone needs to follow them. Decide on some penalties for defaulters which need not be punishment. Rather it should be some activity mutually decided in advance.
Teach them to respect your feelings.
Let me tell you this, your children are not going to think about your feelings if you teach them otherwise. If you yourself don’t think your feelings matter, how will they? And then you can’t expect them to be ‘the children of the year’ by guessing what you think before you express.
Now, unless you are sending them for the mind-reading classes it is irrational to expect it from them. Your children need to know if they have hurt your emotions and that it is not acceptable. If you let them take you for granted, you can’t mourn when they actually do take you for granted.
Stand up for yourself. Tell them that you too have feelings and they have just hurt them. Here the important phrase is ‘tell them’ and not ‘ have a melodramatic episode.’ To avoid this, don’t let things accumulate. Then it becomes really difficult for you to be brief and to the point. Rather you complicate things by mentioning multiple things one after another.
Remember your children are not bad people. They don’t mean to hurt you intentionally. They love you a lot. But there is a lot they have to learn and respecting your feelings is one of them.
Teach them to respect your requirements.
Let us consider a scenario. Your child refuses to eat anything. So, you, filled with sadness, don’t have food too. Your child has a test and they aren’t studying for it. You ignore all your work and needs just to sit with them the whole night and try to make them study.
In this situation, you forget your sleep and your daily routine for your kids. And that is how kids learn that your only requirement is them. So, how to teach them otherwise? I think you know the answer, but are hesitant to acknowledge it.
Respect your needs first. Stop answering your child’s beck-and-call. If you have important things to do at some moment do it. And you don’t have to be condescending about it. Let us consider the first scenario we had, them not eating. What you can do is, have food when it is your time.
If your child doesn’t want food to tell them it is okay but you are going to go ahead and eat. They can eat whenever they want, and if they need your help reheating the food or something like that, do it.
Hold them accountable for their behavior.
This is an important point in dealing with stubborn kids. Let them know that their behavior is not going to be ignored. If they have exhibited bad behavior, then they are going to have to answer for it. They have to rectify any damage they may have caused in their pursuit of stubbornness. Be consistent with it. You are sending the wrong message if you hold them accountable only when you are in a bad mood.
Nothing changes in a day. Everything takes time. You have to be patient. Don’t lose your temper or patience with them. The process of transformation doesn’t happen in a matter of a few moments. That will hamper the change that they have shown till now. Everybody has a different pace of progress. Focus on the bigger picture. Don’t lose hope.