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You are here : home > Manners and Discipline > Disciplining Children > Dealing with Stubborn Children

Dealing with Stubborn Children

Stubborn as a mule 

"Mummy, I don't want to take the injection," said six-year-old Akash as he darted into the bathroom and locked himself in. His mother Reena was at her wit's end trying to figure out a way to persuade her son to come out and go to the doctor's clinic. In another situation, eight-year-old Pradip refused to eat unless all the peas were taken out of his plate. 

Some children can put mules to shame. When they decide to dig their heels in, no matter how much you cajole and threaten them, they just won't budge. This can be a truly frustrating experience for harassed parents just trying to go about the business of raising good children.  It becomes a battle of wills with both sides waiting to see who will give in first. While some children are more stubborn than others, all children display stubborn behaviour at some time or another. And most parents find that they are at a loss in such situations. Their instinctive reaction is to react with anger as they feel that their child's behaviour is a challenge to their authority. However, they soon find that anger only serves to fan the flames. 
 

Stubbornness is not necessarily negative

Stubbornness in children has always been viewed as a negative trait by their parents. But may be they should attempt to look upon it in a more positive fashion. A child's stubbornness may just be his way of demonstrating that he can think for himself and that he can assert his thoughts and beliefs. Stubbornness gives them a feeling that they have a measure of control over the situation, which in turn, boosts their self-esteem. Parents should also make a push to understand the root of their children's stubbornness. Stubbornness can have a range of causes. It may vary from irrational fears to resistance to change or just a simple attack of rebellion. 
 

The strategies

In the face of stubbornness, parents have just a few disciplining options. If the battle is about an issue of values or safety, parents should be prepared for a real battle of wills because there is no way that they can afford to budge from their stand in such a scenario. Do not get angry or argue. Simply state your stand, the reasons for it and the consequences of disobedience. Then follow through. Hopefully, your child will just throw in the towel. If the issue is not serious, there is no harm negotiating with your child and arriving at a compromise. In some situations, it is even surprisingly effective to just let go. Suddenly faced with no opposition, which constitutes a reward in itself, the child's rebellion will have the wind taken out of its sails.
 

Some useful tips

  • Identify the problem and involve your child in seeking a solution. You will cease to be the enemy and she will feel that you are both on the same side.
  • If you want your child to do something, try to time your request so that it does not interrupt her while she is doing something else. This is one way of avoiding conflict.
  • If your child is not very happy about change, give her adequate notice so that she knows what to expect and is willing to cooperate.
  • Be assertive when asking your child to do something. You are not asking them for a favour. Also, make clear the consequences of non-compliance.
  • Keep in mind that your requests should be reasonable. 
  • Praise her when she is cooperative and well-behaved.

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32 Comments
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Benjoe.1 year ago
My 11 year old ONLY daughter is getting stubborn and rude these days. She back answers everyone at home except her dad. We recently moved to a new flat and she has too many friends to play. She neglects her home works, studies. She is very irresponsible. We parents are working (left with no other choice) She often times asks me to be at home but I cant take sudden leaves at office. Please suggest. I am really worried about her. Shouting at her is effecting my health.
 
 
 
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Sayyonee.1 year ago
My 11 year old ONLY daughter is behaving weird these days. She back answers everyone, acts very stubborn. She is only scared of her father and none. We are working parents and really worried about her weird behaviour.

At times she asks me not to go to office and spend time with her. I go speechless because i cannot take sudden leaves. We both have to work. Im really really worried with her rude behavior. Please suggest!
 
 
 
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.1 year ago
My son is 3 years old. he is so Stubborn that if he want something he cries and holds is breath. He had the breath holding from 3 months baby and was pampered by everyone at home. He does not want to go to a play home hold his breath once we leave him class. I am worried about is future how to handle the situation if i try to be harsh to him he hold his breath .I am frighten to even frighten him in any way. Please advise
 
 
 
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anum.4 years ago
my son hits every child and is so stubborn,he is 3 yrs old, plz suggest me something
 
 
 
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Saddiqa.4 years ago
am feeling vary bad toward my relationship with my kids (boy 8 years) he is vary stubborn kids and am keeping shouting at him... i dont want to lose his love..!!
 
 
 
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Joma.4 years ago
i get disappointed very often with my daughter. she is very intelligent. but i think she is oevrconfident about herself and does not try to do her things properly. my each encounter with her is a fight.
 
 
 
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gemma.4 years ago
my daughter is so stubborn even the teachers have problems with her.
when she doesnt want to do somethink she wont do it,ive tried everything..its a loosing battle
 
 
 
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Amy.4 years ago
are you kidding me? my child will do what i tell her to do and eat what i tell her to eat, this is not up for debate. if she does not, there is consequences. parents have gotten entirely to weak, the things we ask our children to do are for their own good and have reasons behind them. and for a child to defy you by not obeying your requests needs to be punished.
 
 
 
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shaily.4 years ago
my son is only 10 1/2 month old and is becoming stubborn.he reacts violently if prevented from doing anything.he cries at every little thing that displeases him.any suggestions?
 
 
 
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Ned..4 years ago
i'm sorry, but amy's comment sounds awful. you sound like you would sooner crush your child than work with her for a positive outcome. don't you think you are just teaching her to deal with situations that she doesn't agree with by caving in. you are crushing her self-esteem and she will not respect you and rebel when she is a teenager. maybe you could show a little more respect for your daughter and explain to her why you need her to obey you instead of being forceful. discipline with love, not with anger.
 
 
 
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