How to Win Over Stubborn Children
Read our tips for dealing with stubborn behavior (Hint: All it takes is a little reverse psychology to get an obstinate kid to see things your way.) Plus, get more discipline tips.
The power struggle: Your toddler spends half the day pulling toys off the shelf and out of the box, then flits off to another activity when it's time to clean up.
Beat the clock. For the younger set, the best bet is almost always to turn picking up toys into a beat-the-timer game, suggests Malibu, CA, psychotherapist Susan Stiffelman, author of Parenting Without Power Struggles: Raising Joyful, Resilient Kids While Staying Cool, Calm and Connected. Stubborn kids are often intrigued by games and challenges, so see how many toys your child can put away in, say, five minutes. You can push the idea further by keeping a chart and encouraging your child to “beat his best effort,” perhaps rewarding him with a sticker or privilege when he does.
Play the “helper” card. Ask him, “Would you like to be my special helper today? You are so good at setting the dinner table, gathering laundry, cleaning the mirror…” so your child feels like pitching in is actually a privilege.
Think positive. Use encouraging, supportive words, rather than threats, to help take the “fight” out of obstinate kids, emphasizes Stiffelman. Instead of saying “We can't go to the park until your toys are put away!” try “As soon as your toys are put away, we get to go to the park!” If your child replies “But I really wanna go play with Brandon,” instead of nagging him about what he has to do to earn that privilege, smile brightly and say “Why yes, you certainly can do that…as soon as all your toys are picked up.”