Tricks to Deal With Stubborn Children

Stubborn children are both a blessing and a curse, unfortunately for my parents, I am still just as stubborn now as I was then

tricks to deal with stubborn children feature

However, contrary to popular belief I think it is mostly a good thing, it helps me not compromise on my beliefs, it makes me stand up for what I believe in and it helps my confidence. There are obviously downsides too and while I don’t want to discourage stubborn-ness, it does cause a problem when my stubborn child is being unnecessarily unreasonable and won’t budge (not that he takes after me at all!)

If you have stubborn children (or child) you’ll know that straightforward telling them what to do is never going to work and that is partly because they want to be in charge. Recently as we are nearing the 5 year old marker I have found myself getting more and more yelly, which I hate! I don’t like shouting and I definitely don’t like being a screamy, pleading parent that can’t deal with the kid in front of me. Let’s be honest, sometimes kids are completely unreasonable and you have to ride the storm, but so far I have found some of these tactics and tricks get him round to my way of thinking with minimal shouting on both sides! (I am supposed to be the parent after all!)

Give Options

Children (and I) really don’t like being told what to do, (let’s be honest, who does) so when I tell him bedtime is at 7pm, the usual reply I get is a resounding “nope”. So instead, I focus on the routine before bedtime and give lots of different options to choose from e.g. if he would like a bath before having a story or if we are going to get our PJ’s on early and read an extra story in bed (we are big on toddler reading in this house). Focusing on the options and activities before bed gives him an illusion of power and this helps to calm him down and stop him focusing on the “I am getting put to bed at this time” to “look at all the things I get to do”.

*Disclaimer, I have no magic solution for when they ask for extra, extra stories once they are in bed, but hey I got them there without hassle so I will take the win!*

give options - dealing with stubborn children

Negotiate

One of my personal favorites and to be honest the one I resort to the most! I think my little guy’s first string of words was along the lines of “I’ll make you a deal!”. This is a bit of a contested subject, because it takes some of the power away from you by “giving up” something. That being said, there are certain deal breakers and non-negotiables in this house and I find they work better if you are willing to budge on some of the smaller things so for me it is about picking your battles. The way this normally happens is exactly like business, aim high and then settle near where you wanted in the first place and for us it is normally food negotiations.

My guy loves his food, a little too much so he scoffs through his dinner and then expects about 2-3 puddings so now we have negotiated so that he eats his dinner, then a piece of fruit and then his sweet pudding so he’s eating more of the good stuff! And yes, if he eats it all without a fuss he normally gets a second pudding as well but that is where I give a little. If they start to cause a fuss, sometimes it’s easier to just ask “what do you want” and then you can go from there, rather than focusing on the whining or shouting just talk through it and normally the fact they are being heard and taken seriously calms them down and they are more reasonable. (and other times you have to ride the storm)

Work With Them

Stubborn children tend to be highly sensitive especially to how you treat them, so it’s crucial to watch the body language, tone, and vocabulary you use. I have found if I am in a bad mood and get a bit snappy, this can resort in the same behaviour back. As hard as it can be, changing the way you approach them or certain situations seems to have mostly worked for us and has improved the reaction we get back which helps to avoid confrontation before it begins. A prime example of this is rather than telling them to tidy their toys, help them do it or ask them to be your “special helper” or turn it into a game.

girl and her teddy, work with stubborn children

Keep Calm

I know this works, but it is the hardest for me to deal with, especially as a stubborn person myself. Yelling at a stubborn, screaming child will turn into a parent vs child shouting match and will only make things worse. As the parent it is my responsibility to try and steer the conversation to find a practical solution and with stubborn children, this can be a lot easier said than done. That being said, taking a second or a deep breath helps me to stop snapping back immediately and although I don’t think I am calm, I am definitely more reasonable. One thing I have noticed though is that the calmer you are with dealing with them, the calmer they are when they want something, they don’t shout and demand, they ask and they shout a lot less because it doesn’t work to get them (or you) what you want.

bubbles, keep calm when dealing with stubborn children

Give Them Respect

This is a biggie for me, if you want your children to respect you or your decisions, you need to show them respect because stubborn children won’t accept authority if you force it onto them, sure they will do as they are told for a time but that won’t last in the long term. One of the phrases I loathe the most is when a parent tries to justify what they are saying or doing with the phrase “because I am the parent and you are the child, that’s why!” it neither promotes respect to them, or you and is just a cop out for explaining or teaching your children. Consistent rules obviously help, but so does giving them a little more responsibility and letting them make their own mistakes themselves, if you respect that they have to make their own decisions, even at this young age, they will respect your “wisdom” when they need it.

Let’s be honest, it’s no secret that dealing with stubborn children can be stressful and there are days when you are going to throw quiet parenting out of the window, but one of the important ways (for me) to deal with that is to sit down and apologise on both fronts, how will your child respect you if they see you doing things wrong and not owning up or dealing with them. So in this house, although we can get quite yelly, we at least try to fix things and I think that’s the key to stubborn children!

Do you have a stubborn child? How do you deal with them? If you have any tricks or tips, let me know in the comments

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stubborn children can be both a blessing and a curse, we are still learning the ins and outs of how to deal with them but here are our tricks so far.

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Written by Charlotte

Founder at The Mummy Toolbox

35 Comments

  • Tasha (#)
    January 29th, 2017

    I can definitely relate here. I’ve been having some issues with my youngest son lately. I tend to say things need to be done and when he gets upset it turns into a problem. I think I’m going to start offering him options and see how that goes.

  • Tasha (#)
    January 29th, 2017

    I can definetly relate here. I’ve been having some issues with my youngest son lately. I tend to say things need to be done and when he gets upset it turns into a problem. I think I’m going to start offering him options and see how that goes.

  • Sinziana Romanescu (#)
    January 29th, 2017

    Every suggestion you mentioned is so true. I try to apply this with my little boy…sometimes he has less patience than me but I think we are ok :).

  • Kathleen - Bloggers Lifestyle (#)
    January 27th, 2017

    Lots of wisdom here Charlotte. Sounds like you are doing a great job.

    Kathleen

  • Keren Charles (#)
    January 27th, 2017

    I’m not a mom as yet, but I grew up with an ol’school parent. She did not play wth me. She was very stern. So if I have to deal with stubbornness, I am willing to incorporate some of your tips.

  • Michel (#)
    January 26th, 2017

    I had a very stubborn daughter. She was so headstrong we clashed regularly. Negotiating and remaining calm worked. Eventually she went to law school!

  • Krystle Cook (#)
    January 26th, 2017

    Kids can be stubborn all the time and it can totally get frustrating. So glad that you have shared these strategies to make life just a little easier.

  • Robin Rue (#)
    January 26th, 2017

    Giving options is definitely the best thing that you can do. It allows the child to pick but you know that it is something that you are okay with them doing.

  • Dawn McAlexander (#)
    January 26th, 2017

    I can tell you really know where you are coming from on this subject. You are 100% correct in dealing with a stubborn child. You have great ideas on how to do it correctly.

  • Sue (#)
    January 25th, 2017

    These are all useful techniques Charlotte. In fact, I’m finding I’m much better at coping with my 3 year grandson and communicating with him than I was when my children were that age. I’ve learned a lot and also have learned from my daughter.

  • Reesa Lewandowski (#)
    January 25th, 2017

    This is my daughter!!! I have found staying calm is a huge one, but it is really hard to do! Respecting her as well is a big one. I often do forget she is barely 6 and to give her a little credit for her age

  • Courteney Noonan (#)
    January 25th, 2017

    These are great tips 🙂 from my experience it’s so important to keep calm. Shouting and getting angry at a child won’t help stubbornness at all!

  • Amy (#)
    January 25th, 2017

    Love this post! My boyfriends son is super stubborn at dinner time when it comes to eating his healthy vegetables. This week the deal has been if he eats them he can have some cookies afterwards. Kids are definitely more likely to do what you ask if a reward is coming afterward!

  • Rachel (#)
    January 25th, 2017

    I love these, especially the one about giving options. I’ve found options always work well for my kids.

  • Barbara Ritzman (#)
    January 25th, 2017

    I don’t have any kids but these are some great tips. My girlfriends son was a bit stubborn, but has grown out of it.

  • CourtneyLynne (#)
    January 25th, 2017

    These are some great suggestions!!! Thankfully my child hasn’t hit the stubborn years yet! I’m sure they will come though

  • Tabitha (#)
    January 25th, 2017

    My little one is only 15 months but she is as stubborn as they come. She is pretty much constantly shaking her head no at me.

  • Jennifer (JenuineMom) (#)
    January 24th, 2017

    Oh, I’ve got a stubborn child! Patience and respect and OPTIONS are all tools I’ve used many times over his 12 years. When those don’t work, I go for negotiation. Great tips!

  • Samantha Lee (#)
    January 24th, 2017

    These are great tips. Thankfully for my parents, I was a very agreeable child. Every kid is different, though, and that means they require different parenting styles to keep them in line. Very helpful post!

  • Di (#)
    January 24th, 2017

    As a stubborn child (and adult) I think you just need to find ways to communicate. I think it really depends on what they are being stubborn about too.

  • Brittany (#)
    January 24th, 2017

    Giving options has been a lifesaver for us. My three year old has a hard time listening most of the time. Giving him options has really helped.

  • Rachel (#)
    January 24th, 2017

    This was an awesome post. I love to give my kids options but am always working on “keeping calm.” Thanks for sharing.

  • Chelsea Damon (#)
    January 24th, 2017

    I try to give my son options before it becomes an issue of forcing him to do what I ask. Usually both options are in favor of what I’d like him to do anyway, and he still feels like he has some control

  • Kristin (#)
    January 24th, 2017

    I have a stubborn child at home as well and it can be so tough. These tips are so helpful! Thank you for sharing them!

  • Jessica (#)
    January 24th, 2017

    Great tips I was also a stubborn child (& pretty sure nothing has changed) I especially like the suggestion to give options that way they feel they have a say

  • Amanda Rosson (#)
    January 24th, 2017

    I’ll have to remember these things when I have my own child! My dad tells me I made his job easy because I was such an easy going and obedient kid – I’m not a stubborn persona at all. My friends say it’s one of my unique traits lol.

  • Silvia (#)
    January 24th, 2017

    Yes this post is all about me! I was the stubborn one in my family but my parents quickly learned that they had to work with me. It made it easier on them and me!

  • Debra (#)
    January 24th, 2017

    It can take a lot of patience to deal with a stubborn child, I always tell myself that it can be a great quality when they are older!

  • Krystel @ Planning The Magic (#)
    January 23rd, 2017

    I’ve always said that I prefer someone who’s going to push back versus a yes kid. I understand how hard it can be.

  • Terri Steffes (#)
    January 23rd, 2017

    I am/was a stubborn child. My mom would always say, “what WILL you do?” I can remember her tone of voice! It worked though.

  • karen (#)
    January 23rd, 2017

    Keeping calm is the major foundation for all of this. It sets the tone and keeps it balanced for everyones emotions.

  • Heather (#)
    January 23rd, 2017

    I most definitely am stubborn, I don’t think I always was, I think I came to it later in life after giving into everyone else for a large portion of time. But, my oldest definitely is stubborn. We try to keep the communication lines open so she understands why I am saying what I am saying, rather than just telling her to do something (which never works!).

  • Janel (#)
    January 23rd, 2017

    Oh yes my kids are so stubborn. I wonder if these tips will work on hubby too? Sometimes I think his stubborn way rubs off on the kids!

  • Jessi (#)
    January 23rd, 2017

    Thank you for this. My almost 4 year old daughter is extremely stubborn! Some days I feel like I’m banging my head against the wall just to get her to pick up her toys!

  • Kim (#)
    January 23rd, 2017

    My toddler is 3 and starting to show his stubborn side. Especially since my baby was just born. These are great tips to consider!

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