“When I say black, my child says white.”
“If I tell him my son no, he does it anyway”
“My child spends hours figuring out how stuff works.”
“My child is so stubborn I don’t know what to do with him!”
Does this sound familiar?
Some children are easily redirected to new activities and will comply readily when you say “no.” Some children will refuse to cooperate and persist in doing what they want to do. These children are called stubborn. However, many experts say that these children are really persistent and it is a trait that should be valued by parents.
We can learn to admire our persistent children but first we need to learn how to deal with them. Here are 6 ways to do just that:
1. Find what triggers their persistent behavior:
Most persistent children do not respond well to direct commands, being told that they can’t do what they want to do or their wishes being thwarted. They also have trouble listening when parents deliver inconsistent and unclear limits.
2. Think positive:
To help us appreciate these children we can view them in a positive way. We can say to ourselves, these children are committed to task at hand, goal oriented, unwilling to give up, assertive, and love to debate. They will be adults who really stick to things.
3. Manage their feelings:
These children might want to comply but get stymied by their need for control. We can help them understand their feelings by saying:
“It’s hard for you to hear ‘no.'”
“When you hear ‘no’ you want to fight back right away.”
“You like to make your own decisions.”
4. Getting them to listen:
There are ways we can engage their cooperation. In my classes I teach ways to avoid giving children direct commands. This is critical to use with these children. We can also give them choices. It is important to set clear and consistent rules and stick to them.
5. Come up with solutions:
These children should be given every opportunity to learn conflict resolution skills.
Asking them to problem solve is key, “You don’t want to stop playing and it is time to go to our doctor appointment, what can we do to help you and help me in this situation?”
6. Reinforce their good behavior:
We should praise these children for their ability to persist and most importantly for their ability to compromise:
“I was not in my room and I was not in my office so you went outside to look for me. That is called being persistent.”
“You and Michael both wanted the scissors and you came up with the solution of taking turns. That is called coming up with a compromise!”