Sunday, 6 July 2014

Dealing with Stubborn Children

Yesterday I invited questions from you mums and one mother was concerned that her little one and half year old baby is becoming stubborn and angry and "driving her nuts". We've all been there. How many of us can say our kids don't drive us insane all the time especially when it seems the only objective of their life is to defy what we say.

It's true that most children will at some point in their lives go through this and most probably multiple times. As far as very young kids go, you should make sure she isn't having some health issues. Teething, being hungry due to increased appetite and weaning, sleep disturbances due to change in routine etc. can very well be the reason why she appears to be so cranky. Being stubborn and angry, showing fits of defiance and rage are often manifestations of another root cause. Once you pin point that, you can take action accordingly. She might even be feeling ignored by you. Have you started giving her less time? Above all don't yell. This is the most ridiculous thing to say, me being a yeller myself. But I am actively trying to change that. Sometimes I put a rubber band around my wrist just to remind myself I shouldn't yell. Giving respect will yield respect. You have to remember that she is at that point in her life where she is beginning to be aware of herself as an individual and will be testing you to prove that.

Below are a few pointers on how to make your life simpler when dealing with the stubborn streak in your child when being verbally straight-forward just won't work. You can see how to adjust these according to the age of the child:

1. Parental shows of affection: Most cases just warrant more attention from you. Play more games, read together, set aside one on one times. If there is something upsetting your child, he or she will soon come forward.

2. Really listen: A child thrashes out when going through a tough time. It could be peer pressure, wanting something new, pressure at look for any signs and prompt your child gently, do not force him or her to tell you anything they are not ready to tell you. Just show you are there.

3. The illusion of choice: Little kids will drive you mad every which way. I find that tactics like giving them the illusion of choice come in real handy. For e.g if the child doesn't want to sleep you can say, 'Well you don't have to sleep but you must get in bed.' Or if he or she doesn't want to eat a piece of fruit, 'Well you could eat either an apple or a pear.' It's a nifty trick and requires practice, but by getting the child to think he has control will keep him calm. You can even ask him to the deed but in his own way- as long as it gets done.

4. Watch your own behaviour: How do you expect respect and trust when you don't reciprocate? And even your actions with your family, friends and relatives is being carefully considered by your young one.

5. Make it fun or divert the child's attention: Get the kids to clean up after themselves by challenging them to do it before the alarm rings and set it for 10 minutes. Avoid bribery. My kids love becoming 'mama's little helpers' for an hour. If your kid is throwing a fit, just calm him down with a hug and start a story or a poem. 

6. Let the child vent: Sometimes there is nothing better than a good hearty cry. Let your child vent once in a while, it might make him or her feel better. Then after all the raw emotions are out, show your support and willingness to help and forgive.

7. Let the small stuff slide: For small children I've always maintained that if what they're doing isn't hurting anyone or anything, let them do it, even if the end result is a mess. If it's almost time for the guests to arrive and your child decides that now is the best time to do some painting then let him do so but arrange the materials in one corner of his bedroom. If the child wants to eat a chocolate when its clearly almost lunch time, let him have it once in a while. Giving in to the small things will help you get through to your child when the matter really is serious.

Here's the good news, if your child shows stubborn streaks in early childhood and is headstrong, chances are they have good leadership qualities, assertiveness and are extroverts. Obviously keeping all that in check so that it doesn't all become negative later on is a tough job since you have to balance it out without crushing the child's natural potential.

Being a parent! What a job!

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