Some children want to have everything their way. As a parent, do you know how to deal with a strong-willed child who isn't ready to listen to reason?
By Ashwin Lobo
Rahul asked his son Ram to eat the veggies on his plate. But Ram looked back at his father defiantly and asserted that he wouldn't. Though his mother Priya gently tried to coax Ram to eat the veggies, he refused to do so. This made Rahul lose his temper and begin scolding Ram for being disobedient and stubborn. Ram wasn't willing to give in, either. Pushing aside his plate in anger, he rose from the table and stomped back to his room.
Incidents like this are typical in households where there is a strong-willed child. The parents and the child are unable to agree with each other on quite a few issues. Many a times, this results in parents losing their temper. However, admonishing or punishing the child for non-compliance further worsens the situation, as she can become even more confrontational. This creates a tremendous amount of stress on the parent–child relationship, sometimes damaging it beyond repair.
Are you also a parent whose child has been behaving like Ram? If yes, then perhaps you are dealing with a stubborn child.
The words 'stubborn child' bring to mind the image of a child who is difficult to deal with because she is not willing to listen to anyone. Well, here are some more characteristics that such children may have:
Parents need to start working with a stubborn child early on to mould his behaviour for positive outcomes. Some of the ways you can discipline a stubborn child are:
1. Listen and negotiate: Remember, listening is an important part of communication and negotiation and, integral to the decision-making process. So, listen to what your child says. And, instead of arguing with her, have an open conversation. This will convey to her that you respect her opinions and are willing to hear her out. Forcing your decision will only lead to an argument and give rise to feelings of frustration and anger.
2. Step into your child's shoes: Understanding your strong-willed child is a long-drawn process. So, observe your child carefully to understand what triggers make him stubborn and unrelenting. For example, does he act in this manner to get what he wants, to resist your control, to dominate those around him or, when you're unable to keep a promise you had made.
3. Set rules of behaviour: Frame rules for good behaviour. It provides your child with a structure to adhere to. As a result, she will be less likely to go in a different direction. Also, when you frame the rules, set consequences for breaking them and indulging in bad behaviour. An example of a consequence can be something like not allowing your child to ride the bicycle for a day, or not allowing her gadget time that day.
4. Be consistent and firm: Being consistent helps your child understand what you expect from her. Once you have laid down the rules for your child to follow, be firm in implementing them. For example, ensure that you warn her only once and, if your child doesn't listen, implement the consequences.
5. Check your reactions: Most children are very sensitive to the way their parents interact with them. So, watch your tone, gestures, and the words you use when you speak to your child. Staying positive will also help you deal with your child in a calm and collected manner.
Along with following our tips when dealing with your stubborn child, it is also important for you to reinforce to him that being obstinate doesn't pay in the long run. So, encourage his good behaviour and soon, you will see how much he has changed. But, if your efforts fail to bear fruit, do consult a specialist to set your child on the right path.
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