Wikihow tells us bluntly that punishing stubborn kids with hurtful or humiliating methods is generally ineffective. If anything, it will create strong negative emotions and reinforce the stubbornness they were trying to deal with. The key to dealing with stubborn children lies in understanding the cause or reason for the strong-headedness.
Stubborn kids, from teens, down to toddlers are usually at turning points in their growth phase and are just asserting their individualism and boundaries. Yes they are also testing you but it’s not with a view to making you pop a vein and get admitted for partial stroke. They are just testing to know theirs and your boundary. This applies to anyone they are interacting with. With this our new found knowledge, let’s explore a few ways we could positively deal with these stubborn offspring of ours.
Don’t Beat, Join Them Instead
As we mentioned before, these children who exhibit stubbornness are just trying to express and assert themselves. They want to be sure that their independence is real and that you recognise it. So when you’re giving an order, they’re like “I can choose not to so why should I do it?”. This is their inner conversation. So they exhibit a countering by resisting. Now you’re the adult and you have the wisdom of knowing their inner thoughts, use it.
Before you even give the order, get close to them and show some interest in what they’re doing. If they’re teens, they’ll probably be on their phones. Talk about something you saw on Facebook or ask what they’re doing. When you have made that connection and they’re down with you, let them know what you want them to do. They’ll feel it like it’s coming from their mind because you guys are ‘one’. He’ll probably bump knuckles with you and give the peace sign before cheerfully taking out the garbage or whatever you asked of him.
Are You Listening?
They might be trying to tell you something but you’re trying to get them to do something else. Toddlers are usually just understanding they are individuals. They have an opinion and they want to express it and be acknowledged. The same goes for teens and teens who are experiencing hormonal changes and emotional turbulence as a result. When they prove stubborn, ask them what is wrong or why they don’t want to go. Be patient and listen to what they have to say. Really think about it and if it’s valid, respond appropriately. If not, try and reason with them. Tell them, “I understand but don’t you think…?”
They will be more willing to comply with you once they know you’re acknowledging their opinion and taking time to respond to it.
Choices, Decisions and Egos
Another way to make your strong-willed child is to empower them. When you want to get them to do something, give them alternatives and ask what their choice is. “Hey Joe, will you wash my car now or mow the lawn tomorrow?” or “Emma will you do the dishes or laundry?”. The idea is to make them ‘feel’ independent by choosing what or when to get your instruction carried out.
(To be continued)