As our children reach their toddler years, they tend to become stubborn. Oftentimes, we parents confuse being stubborn as the same as displaying tantrums. I asked a clinical psychologist friend of mine, regarding the differences of each.
Stubbornness is a trait associated with the consistent refusal to change thought or do what is asked. This characteristic is their way of testing the boundaries around them. It is their manner of asserting their freedom of doing or not doing something. Oftentimes, a tantrum follows when your little one does not get what he wants at that moment. They start acting out strong emotions like uncontrolled frustration or anger. At this point, the children cries, whines, or screams. Stubbornness is a trait while a tantrum is an action.
It would be beneficial for both parents and guardians to deal with this stubbornness accordingly, before they can even lead to tantrums. Though we understand that each parent has their own style, we suggest the following techniques to handle kids having this trait.
Can’t get your toddler to sit on the high chair, car seat, or stroller? Distracting a stubborn child is one of the effective ways for a child to forget the restriction we place upon them. You can redirect his or her attention somewhere else like a book, a toy animal, or even the scenery. The distraction will likely catch your child’s attention and divert his or her behavior.
Communicating with your kids helps boost the relationship and understanding between both of you, and may help in cutting down bouts of stubbornness. When your little one is being stubborn, your best bet would be to listen and try to turn it into a conversation rather than an argument. Use a soft tone as much as possible, as soft tones will have a greater likelihood of them listening and following you.
Instead of giving orders, offer options. This will make them feel like they have control of what they want to do or not do. Also, your child will feel that his or her opinion is being valued. For instance, if your child does not want to go to sleep just yet, you can say, “Would you like to sing a song first or hear a story before going to bed?” Remember to keep the choices limited so as not to confuse them.
Structure is essential for kids to help them know what to expect. Any unpleasant changes upset them and oftentimes, trigger occurrences of stubbornness. Establish a daily and weekly routine, and stick to it. Should you need to implement a change in your schedule, give them lots of time and reminders to help them prepare for it.
If you promised to let your child play in the park but changed your mind because of the bad weather, explain it to him or her. Step into your child’s shoes, and try to understand why he or she is behaving in that manner. To you, it’s being stubborn. But to your child, he or she is just very upset. Your child was expecting you to keep your word. The more you know your child, the better you can deal with his or her behavior.
Does your child continuously touch or get something even if you told them not to a hundred times? Then it’s time to change the environment. Rearrange the things he or she keeps touching, and place them in places he or she can’t reach or better yet, places he or she can’t see. Create an environment that is safe, but with lots of opportunities to learn and explore.
This may be more applicable to bigger kids. Set your boundaries and make it clear to them. Make sure your child understands or better yet, involve them. Ask for their inputs and see how they feel about each consequence. Try not to impose too many rules, as this may cause them to be rebellious. Consistency is key, but you also have to know when to be flexible.
Lead by example at all times. Do you often say, “No,” ‘Cannot,” or similar phrases to your child? Do you easily get mad or upset when things do not go as you want them to? If your answer is ‘Yes’ to these questions, then you are reinforcing negative behavior by example. Your child will get the impression that getting angry or frustrated is the way to go. Address situations in a positive way, and they will eventually learn and copy you. You are your child’s first teacher after all.