Positive and Negative Effects of Stubborn Behaviour in Children

Channelling your child’s stubbornness in positive ways will turn it into a strength! Read on to learn how you can do this.

By Radhika Meganathan

Positive and Negative Effects of Stubborn Behaviour in Children

Manjula (name changed), a freelance illustrator and mother of two, often reminisces about how her children’s stubbornness had become legendary in their family. When they were young, they would refuse to eat anything they didn’t like, even going hungry until she yielded and made what they wanted. They were vocal about the colours they wore, the type of stationery they preferred and the genre of story books they read. She recalls, "I was always afraid they would become arrogant and selfish, and come to no good in this world!"

Much to her delight, her fears proved unfounded. Her children not only became high achievers in school and college, but also came to be known for their 'can-do' attitude, confidence and self-assurance.

It could all have gone wrong too, of course, like it did for Tara (name changed), a successful baker, whose only child did not learn to channel his stubbornness in a positive manner. Now a college-goer, he has difficulty making or keeping friends, and becomes sullen and moody and retreats into his shell if anyone points out he is wrong.

So why did Majula's children do well while Tara's son didn't? The answer, many authentic studies and child specialists reveal, lies in how well parents and teachers channel a child's stubbornness. Clearly, this trait has both a positive and negative impact on a child’s personality as she grows up.

POSITIVE EFFECTS

A stubborn child -

Knows his mind: He knows what he wants and what he doesn't, because his innate nature makes it impossible for him to be confused or wishy-washy! So, you don't have to worry about what your child's choices in life are going to be. Whether it is selecting a birthday outfit or a career option, he will know just what he wants.

Is totally focused: In a way, having a stubborn attitude is like having an inner compass on which the child’s entire attention is focussed. A stubborn child will be totally engrossed in and committed to any endeavour she attempts, provided it's something she wasn’t forced to do. And, she is extremely competitive, which means she will do everything in her power to realise her goals.

Is tenacious: He will never be fazed by difficult tasks as he loves challenges. He will keep trying until he finishes the job to his satisfaction. He will persevere long after his friends and foes have given up!

Will not be bullied: Bullying and ridiculing have become common among children these days, but your stubborn child will have none of it. A stubborn child develops toughness early, and the defiance she shows you is what the bully will see too! She will always stand up for herself, which is surely good news for you, as a parent!

Can't be easily swayed: A stubborn child raised with the right values will stick to them and will rarely give in to others’ attempts to change them. This means your child will always take decisions based on his own perspective and never because of others' opinions.

NEGATIVE EFFECTS

A stubborn child -

Could become spoiled: Discipline is an essential component of good parenting, but some parents tend to perceive it wrongly as punishment and hate to 'hurt' their child. As a result, they will give in to their child's stubbornness and end up with a selfish child who takes everything for granted.

May be known as a boor: A stubborn child may refuse to see the other person's point of view and take inordinate pleasure in proving she is right. When things go her way, she may not be above boasting about how she is right. When she is proved wrong, she will turn sulky and bitter. This could brand her as bull-headed and unfriendly.

Could become stranded: This doesn’t mean literally stranded! Human beings are social animals and there comes a point in every person's life when he needs help. But your stubborn child may resist change so much that he will refuse to learn new stuff or ask others for help. This will make things unnecessarily difficult for himself, not to mention losing out on new opportunities.

Could get alienated: Sadly, a stubborn person may antagonise her loved ones (and strangers too!) by rubbing them up the wrong way. A stubborn child often sacrifices tact and compassion just to be proved right. She may become selfish and willing to fight for her own interests with no consideration for others, thus alienating herself from friends and colleagues.

Could behave unethically: This is, perhaps, one of the more dangerous negative aspects of stubbornness. A stubborn person is often a rule-breaker too, as he may go to any extent to get what he wants (especially if he suspects he can get away with it!), even if it means employing unsavoury or unethical means.

If you observe stubbornness in your child, you need to find out ways to channel the stubborn nature in positive avenues and ensure your child develops a balanced personality. Remember, stubborn children are more malleable than stubborn adults; so, make sure you start the process early!