In Parenting

Living with a Stubborn Child

Regardless of the traits you see in your child, you know if you have a stubborn one. You can feel it every time you ask your son or daughter a question. You take the brunt when your child refuses to do his part for family chores. You are also the best one to guide and shape this child in a way that uses this strength for good.

What is a Stubborn Child Like?

Temper tantrums, loud yelling or arms crossed and heels dug in all point to a stubborn child. In many cases, this quality begins at birth with a baby who demands to be held.

Life with stubborn children does not have to be difficult. Maybe you need a change of perception. If you think of a stubborn child as determined and strong-willed, you can see that these characteristics will make him or her a very successful person. They will set goals, not let anyone get in their way and reach the goals they set. Very few people will deter them from her target. This can be called stubborn, and many people will view it this way, but you want to raise your children to be strong and determined.

Signs of Stubbornness

The Merriam-Webster dictionary lists other words that match the description of stubbornness. See if any of these fit your child’s personality:

  • willful
  • bull-headed
  • immovable
  • unyielding
  • adamant
  • hard-nosed
  • inflexible
  • opinionated

These can be viewed as both positive and negative. For example, your child could be unyielding in attempting to tie his own her own shoes, or is relentless in his or her tantrums when they want a toy from the store. As a parent, you can turn these seemingly unwelcome qualities into grounded personality traits. The key is to teach your child respect.

Clearing up the Confusion about Stubborn Children

Many people mistakenly think that stubborn people are selfish. What really happens is a stubborn response often follows selfish behavior from other people. For instance, when parents make all the decisions about where to go, what time to leave, when to clean up, when it is time to eat, or when is bath time, a child may resent that he or she has to stop playing, eating or watching television in response to your choices.

This can result in a major attitude. Many times, to alleviate the stubborn response, a child is included in the decision making process. This small change reduces the child’s urge to fight with you since she is given options.

One way to do this is to explain to your child the events of the day and which ones need to be finished first. Then, give her some choices about the order, or sequence of events. No one likes to be told what to do all the time and children are the same way. You would probably feel very stubborn after a long time period of your parents telling you what to do, so it is no surprise your child feels the same.

Stubbornness: Positive Development

The determination of a stubborn person is a positive characteristic, according to CNN. As your child gets older her stubbornness may help her avoid peer pressure. Since they are less likely to do what others want them to do, they will continue to blaze their own path and remain true to their desires instead of giving in to the wishes of others. This is a quality you want to encourage!

Other children can turn a stubborn attitude to a leadership role. They use their steadfast opinions and personalities to lead others. For example, your son may encourage a group of friends to volunteer and help out a needy family or at a homeless shelter. If he feels passionate about this idea and digs in his heels until he completes his task, he can get others to support him.

Another positive potential that stubborn children have is the ability to remain focused on a learning task. For example, if your daughter is learning to tie her shoes and is having difficulties, her stubbornness and steadfast way will help her continue until she succeeds.

How to Compromise

Raising a stubborn child is a wonderful opportunity to teach your child about listening and compromising. Sometimes a child will dig in his heels if he feels he is not being heard. An example could be playing with a neighbor that he does not like, but you scheduled the play date. Another example is your child wanting to watch a television program during a family dinner at the dining table. His wants and needs need to be heard and validated. That way, once you understand the reasons for his stubborn reaction, you have the opportunity to make a compromise. For instance, you can offer to speak to him first before you schedule play dates, or offer to record his favorite television program so you can watch it with him after dinner. These small changes may be enough to fight to bull-headedness and also are a chance to teach him how to present compromises to other children or adults as he goes through life.

Clean Up

If your stubborn child enjoys play time, but not clean up time, turn this chore into a game. Many determined children are also competitive and this is a good way to keep them involved. Set a timer and see who can pick up the most toys within the allowed time. You could even offer a small prize for the “winner”, who will always be your child, such as a yo-yo, coloring book or stickers.

You can also set conditions. Such as, “We cannot go to the park until the toys are put away.” This prevents a negative attitude, and your child knows exactly what is expected or what comes next after he or she performs the task.

Give and Take

A child with a stubborn personality needs to learn how to share and the concept of give and take. If he does not want to share his toys, remind him that his friend will not share either and he loses out on an opportunity to play with new toys. Encourage him to share knowing that both children will have a lot more fun when allowed to use all the toys. This is not an easy concept to learn, but the more children are encouraged to share, the easier it becomes and the more they expect it from other people.

Growing Up

A stubborn child does not have to turn into a stubborn teenager. By teaching your child positive attitude from an early age instead of controlling everything, you can raise a strong-willed teenager who knows when it is appropriate to fight and when it is acceptable to back down.

Teach your child how to consider options, so that everyone involved is happy. Our children can grow into confident adults who are secure on their paths and have the determination to succeed. You cannot ask for more from a child, so find a way to mold the stubbornness into a respectful, healthy strong-willed personality.

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