Do you struggle with parenting a stubborn child? Is your headstrong little one wreaking havoc at home? Does it feel like your child rules the roost?
We’ve compiled five skills to help you manage conflict and your relationship and to achieve a more peaceful family dynamic:
1. Re-frame stubborn. A stubborn child can grow up to be a headstrong, persistent adult. Your strong-willed child might be more self-assured than her peers and less prone to bullying. There are positive aspects to stubbornness, and it’s helpful to honor and embrace them.
2. Find empathy. Remember what it’s like to be so little and powerless in the world? Maybe not, but you can imagine. Being small and dependent is scary. Try to connect with your child’s soft parts, and understand how stubbornness might serve your child. Do you ever get cranky or feisty when backed into a corner in a relationship or at work? That’s how being little feels. . . all the time!
3. Pick your battles. Does your child insist on wearing un-matching socks to school? Must she eat all of her foods in order based on color preference? Maybe these aren’t battles you need to fight. Reserve your time and energy for lessons and matters that are bigger picture.
4. Give your child opportunities to decide. If you find it hard to motivate your child to engage in certain behaviors, create some decision points, so that he feels in control. For example, instead of telling your child it’s time to brush teeth, ask, “Do you want to brush your teeth now or after we finish this game?” Giving your child some say can help him feel more in control of what’s going on in his life.
5. Get help. If you continue to struggle with a strong-willed child, reach out for help. Get support from friends and family. As you know, raising children takes a village. Learn from others. Here is some reading material to guide you through. If you suspect that your child might be struggling with more pronounced concerns, such as anxiety, depression, or significant behavioral challenges, reach out to a child and family therapist for support and intervention.