“No” and “I don’t want to” are two very common phrases parents frequently hear from their toddlers. Almost all parents share the same feelings as they start to wonder whether it is just a phrase or such phrases are signs of a stubborn personality.
To start, for your own sanity we would like to inform you that all-time-obedient children are like unicorns; they don’t exist. Have you ever heard of an all-time-obedient child? Such a type does not exist. However, the degree of obstinacy may vary from one child to the other. One child might exhibit a resistant behavior on every occasion while another one only occasionally as a form of protest. Other children persistently nag to get what they want. All in all, child stubbornness is natural and should not invite any anxiety unless the parents, in cooperation with the nursery, are unable to keep it under control.
Let us think together. Why would a child act stubbornly? There are many answers, but you should probably start with the way you talk. If you usually give your child a lot of orders, then expect to hear the answer “No!” more than you would like to. On the other hand, if you give your child everything he or she asks for, stubbornness will become your child’s means to pressure you into complying. Strangely, Obstinacy can sometimes have something more positive to it. Some headstrong children might act this way to underscore their independency and free will, two things you should respect, reinforce, and smartly deal with.
How to Handle a Stubborn Child?
Replace orders with offers and options. That is, instead of saying “We are going to the nursery,” it would be more effective to say, “How about we go to the nursery now?” Or for example, “Don’t you want to play with your friends?” Put at least two options on the table instead of only forcing one reality onto your child. If you are faced with refusal to eat an apple for instance, what you can do is to ask if your child prefers it peeled or not, cut into pieces or not. In the case of toddlers, try to distract them when they act strong-willingly. If they refuse to be fed, start singing, and encourage them to sing along. During this time, you can feed them without them noticing. You are also encouraged to reason with your child. In other words, explaining the reason behind your request helps the persuasion along.
“What do I do if my child starts crying?” This is perfectly natural. Try to control your emotions and redirect the crying child’s attention to something else. If your child keeps seeking attention by crying, you are advised to compose yourself and ignore the voices no matter how shrieky or heart-breaking they are. Moreover, the importance of agreeing with your partner on how to handle your stubborn child can never be stressed enough. This also includes the nursery teachers. The supervisors at the nursery should be familiarized with your own parenting style so that it could be reinforced and extended to the nursery context. Here at Little Academy, we cooperate with parents and learn about their parenting styles during the parent-teacher meetings we regularly hold at our nursery.
Here is a simple rule: in order to hear less “Nos!”, use less “Nos!”. Instead of saying “Don’t play with water indoors,” say,” How about you play with water in the backyard?” If you see your child about to touch a dangerous objects, instead of saying “No!” , try, “ That is hot!”, “That is sharp”, or “ That is dangerous!” Such phrases are specific and self-explanatory. This is why you are advised to use them.
Anyhow, with time, you will develop a pattern about the situations in which your child tends to act stubbornly. As the picture starts to get clearer, try not the get the both of you in such situations in the first place. It is also helpful to ignore some minimal mistakes or to give in to children every now and then if it will not do them any harm.