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 battles with the older of my two girls began when she was a toddler. I've got photos of the tiny thing standing a good distance away from me at the park, arms folded defiantly, eyes glaring as if to say “No way am I doing what you want, lady!” I even have a videotape of her saying indignantly into the camera, “I'm a mommy, too—of my dollies! I'm in charge now!”
Some kids are just built to butt heads with their parents. Call it stubborn or strong-willed or whatever you like. If you're living with one of these guys, you know that straightforward methods of getting them to follow directions or behave often don't work. They want to be in charge. But, of course, so do you!
Instead of resorting to the usual verbal combat (aka yelling or pleading), try my so-called sneaky or judo parenting strategies instead. Being sneaky doesn't have to mean being underhanded or manipulative with your children. Rather, “‘sneaky parenting’ is actually ‘smart parenting,’” explains parenting educator Sharon Silver of Proactive Parenting, in Tucson, AZ, and author of Stop Reacting and Start Responding. “It means approaching your kids sideways instead of straight on, and using calmness, respect, and creativity to get what you want accomplished.”
Rachel Rudman, a mom of two and a pediatric occupational therapist in Cedarhurst, NY, supports this approach. “In my private practice, I constantly recommend what could be referred to as ‘sneaky parenting’ strategies, and they work for me at home, too,” she says. Her take: It's simply human nature for everyone—children, too—to want to be included in decisions about their daily habits. “With many kids who need just a little more control, asking their opinion sometimes and giving them choices often are easy answers to getting them to do what ‘we’ want,” she notes. Try the following tricks and your child will probably even think it was all her idea!