HAVING a stubborn child can be a real challenge. How can you ever get her to change her mind?
The good news is that she will not be a compliant teen. She will do what she believes is right and not follow the crowd. Think of her not as stubborn but as persistent. Now, you have a child who sticks to her guns and will work on something until she is successful. You have changed this maddening characteristic into something positive.
But, you still need to handle it with her.
I believe that offering kids choices is always a good idea. It gives them a sense of control and autonomy and because you have offered the choices and whichever they select will be acceptable to you.
With stubborn kids it is particularly effective. When you give them a choice to make, taking a stand and saying, "no way" just isn't one of their available choices. So instead of telling her to take out the garbage, you offer a choice. "The garbage needs to be put out. Do you want to do it now or after dinner?"
Involve her in making decisions. Ask her opinion so she can feel some ownership of the plan. Soccer season is coming up so ask her what she thinks might be the best way to organize all the soccer gear.
Stubborn kids (oops, persistent) are often adamant about what is right and what is wrong and once they have taken a stand they will not budge. Their world is black or white, right or wrong, fair or unfair. There is no middle way. Getting into an argument with them is simply a waste of time and energy.
Instead, listen carefully, ask them why they believe what they do and accept their explanations respectfully. Then you can tell them what you believe and why. So you will agree to disagree.
However, this is where you need to use a "however" statement. "I know you believe that kids should not need to do homework, however it is your reality and you need to get to it."
Family rules are very important with these kids. The clearer the rules, the less space there is for argument.
Keep the rules simple and post them in a public space in the house. When the boundaries are clear and she knows exactly what is expected of her she'll be less likely to question daily expectations.
In the same way, precise routines are a good idea. You can let her help with the decisions about the routines and present some choices. But once that has happened, expect that she will follow the family expectations. When the expectations are a habit, you get fewer arguments.
When you ask her to do something make it abundantly clear. When we use phrases such as, "Why don't you." "Would you like to." or "Don't you think it's time to." you are asking for an argument.
Instead, say, "It's now time to get ready for bed. Please get your pyjamas on now."
When you have a persistent child, likely one of her parents is the same way. One set of grandparents is quietly smiling to themselves watching their son or daughter have to deal with the same stubborn behaviours they handled when their child was young. If that's the case, talk to the grandparents about their experiences raising a stubborn child. They may have some great tips for you or at the very least the reassurance that the child (who may be you) turned out just fine.
Kathy Lynn is a professional speaker and author of Who's In Charge Anyway? and But Nobody Told Me I'd Ever Have to Leave Home. If you want to read more, sign up for her informational newsletter at parentingtoday.ca.