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Your Stubborn Child – How to Keep Independence From Turning Ugly
Every parent will have to deal with a stubborn child at some point, whether it’s about homework, the clothes they wear, or their attitude in general. While it’s good for a child to be completely confident and determined, there are times when these positives can give way to sheer stubbornness. When good traits turn ugly and start to interfere with positive communication, it’s time to put your foot down and regain control before it becomes a permanent and unwanted aspect of your child’s personality.
Signs that stubbornness is getting out of hand
While you definitely want to encourage your kids to stand up and stand up for themselves, you don’t want those lessons to backfire and turn them into little mules that you can’t move. There are ground rules for stubbornness that are non-negotiable in order to keep the peace in the family. There are also signs that you should recognize that your child is becoming too stubborn for his own good. These signs should be followed:
- Constant argument or debate over every single detail
- Unwillingness to listen to another’s point of view
- Attitudinal problems at school
- I can’t get along with friends and siblings
Once kids move into stubborn-as-a-mule territory, it’s often hard to get them back, so make sure you encourage some independence and confidence, but keep an eye out for signs of trouble.
When stubbornness is already a problem
Being able to pick your battles is a skill that is harder for some kids to learn and there are times when it’s perfectly okay to let a behavior go (at least for the time being); but there are others when a stubborn attitude must be dealt with immediately, no matter what. These times include:
- Any moment that could endanger the child (for example, a child refusing to hold your hand while crossing the street)
- Anything that interferes with school success
- Behavior that disturbs other people
You know your child and what he is capable of in terms of grades and behavior. If their intentional behavior is causing them to be less than they should be, then it’s time to rein in your little mule and get them back on track.
Why do children become stubborn?
Some children are more prone to stubbornness than others. Look back at your childhood and your current behavior. Would anyone ever call you a stubborn child? Have you ever stood your ground to the point where another adult walked away from you in pure disgust? While you accept that there will be some of your own stubbornness in your offspring, you don’t have to accept it getting out of hand.
Birth order can have a lot to do with the amount of stubbornness you see in your child. For example, an older child may become stubborn as a way of asserting authority over younger children. And a younger child can become stubborn when trying to assert himself in the family order. An only child can rebel against a stifling parent by becoming headstrong.
There are ways to stop fighting a stubborn child
First and foremost, all adults dealing with this child need to be on the same page about certain displays of stubbornness. If this is tolerated at home but not at school, the child will become confused and may act out even more because of that confusion. Everyone has to agree on what the parameters are and everyone has to agree on what to do when the child crosses the line. Once there is a unified front, the child will be less confused and less likely to try to pit one adult against another. After circling the wagons, it’s time to talk to your child about what will and won’t be tolerated.
Set boundaries and guidelines for your stubborn child, then establish consequences for crossing them. Make sure that all punishments are followed and that they are age appropriate. Also keep in mind where your child is developmentally. A two-year-old isn’t stubborn on purpose to bore you; it’s simply a matter of learning about themselves and they can grow out of the stage quite quickly. A stubborn ten-year-old, however, should know better and have better behavioral skills.
Copyright 2010 Parenttainment.com, Inc.
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