Are You Struggling with A Stubborn Child?
Parenting a stubborn child can be one of the most exhausting experiences one can endure. No matter what you do or say, don’t do or don’t say it feels as if you are always up against a brick wall…and that wall is not budging!
Nothing breaks my heart more than to hear a parent describe the disconnect they feel with their child because of a negative established pattern of behavior. The simplest thing can easily turn into the most explosive conflict. Bedtime to meal time and too many situations in between feel like a tug-of-war. It is often a battle with no clear winners. The more you push the harder they push and if you are like most parents there never seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel.
Imagine if the line of wills that exists between you and your child were erased. What if during the tug-of-war one side put the rope down or if when they pushed you simply stood still?
Changing the dynamics automatically changes the game!
There are two things parents dealing with stubborn children need to consider.
The first is to always being mindful that you do not allow yourself to be pulled into a battle of power. You must always ask yourself if you want to be right and “win” or if you want to find a solution. Keeping your focus clear is critical.
The second is to understand that all behavior is way of communicating for children. They are not equipped to verbalize their thoughts and feelings and so they react to what happens in their lives through their emotions. The specific circumstances for each situation are not relevant. Defiant children are typically reacting to something that is troubling them on a deeper level. The specific situations are not the problem only a symptom of a greater problem.
Breaking through that hidden shield and uncovering the deeper issue is the only way to dissolve the child’s tendency to fight back, push back or pull on that rope with all their might.
Now, every child and every situation will differ to a degree. However, the common denominator present in children who dig their heels in and refuse to cooperate will always involve a feeling of a lack of power…either the power to choose or the absence of their preferences.
For example, I once worked with a family of 5, two girls and one boy, the son being the middle child. By all accounts this was a typical family with no real underlying issues of dysfunction. Except for the fact that their son, at the time age 5, was touted as the most stubborn child God had created (parents words)! As I learned more about the family and their routines, choices and overall lifestyle I could see that family was very important to them.
For the most part the parents made the choices and decisions, however, they did take the time to communicate and explain their decisions to their children. Occasionally they even included the children in making decisions the democratic way, with everyone getting a say and a vote. Upon further investigation however, it was discovered that more often than not their girls would vote one way and their son voted another. Of course the democratic way meant majority ruled and so the son was left feeling outnumbered, unimportant and ignored.
Pointing out to the parents that their son had very little say about what his life consisted of and that was assuredly not feeling good to him opened their eyes to the fact that he needed to be able to honor his feelings and make choices that were pleasing to him… and not always having to follow their choices or to go along with what the “group” had decided. It was suggested that a new approach focusing more on individuality would not only improve their son’s attitude but would benefit their daughters as well and the parents agreed.
They began allowing each child to make their own choices rather than having everything handled as a group. For example, where in the past it was an established pattern that each morning the Mom would choose what clothes they would each wear and what they would have for breakfast. The new approach allowed the children to choose their own outfit each day and they were given a choice to either have what Mom was cooking for breakfast or they could have a bowl of cereal, a piece of fruit or make themselves toast.
This simple change gave the children, especially their son, a feeling of power over what happened in his life.
The parents found other ways in their daily lives to offer their children opportunities to make their own choices by presenting options rather than deciding for them. Eventually their son released his need to rebel because there was a balance now in his life where he felt more in control rather than being controlled. Situation that once created a “stand-off” no longer existed which consequently meant the need to “fight” no longer existed.
When parents are willing to be flexible and bending in the way they do things, they are setting the example for their children to do the same. If you are frustrated by the stubborn uncooperative defiant attitude you are seeing in your child, remove the atmosphere of controlling. Put the rope down, react with open arms when your child pushes toward you and lead your children through options to work as a team, guiding and helping them decide what works and feels good to them.
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Denny Hagel is a child advocate and parenting coach, devoting over 25 years to the success and well being of all children. She is the published author of over 60 articles on parenting, many of which have attracted international attention in over 24 countries.
Denny was blessed with forward thinking parents who raised her with an understanding of her value as an individual, her innate power to choose by way of her thoughts, ideas, opinions and beliefs, thus, instilling in her a strong sense of personal responsibility for what happens in our lives
She is the founder of Awakened Parenting LLC, a company dedicated to helping parents release parenting paradigms of the past and consciously choose to raise their children to approach life with a positive mindset and strong sense of self. It is Denny’s passion to combine what she learned through her formal education in early childhood education and psychology and what her parents instilled in her and pass this on to all parents.
Denny has created the discussion group "Awakened Parenting Discussion Forum" on Face Book which now has over 600 members. She does on line coaching with parents and teachers who consult her on a regular basis. Denny collaborates with counselors, authors, coaches and others working in the parent coaching field. Denny Hagel is the author of the newly published "The Missing Secret to Parenting", "The C.P.R. Program for Parents & Teens: Conflict Prevention/Resolution Formula", "Mini-Me Syndrome" and two free e-booklets “Parenting Using the Law of Attraction” and “Becoming an Awakened Parent".