The most interesting work for parenting coaches is to work with parents who have stubborn children. They come to us tired and exhausted because of the constant conflicts they have with their unyielding youngsters. Their common concerns are “My child doesn’t listen to me”, “She doesn’t do what I tell her to do”, “He won’t budge once he has said no to something.”
What makes a child stubborn? Why do you think children defy their parents? Why don’t they simply obey what they are asked to do? There are reasons why stubborn people resist any command or advice given to them and are determined to do as they want. Stubbornness may look like a bad quality but the reason why someone is stubborn is, in reality, a blessing.
“Stubbornness is not a problem but the strength of mind. People who are independent thinkers and have beliefs and opinions of their own, appear to be adamant. They are actually directed by their own inner intellect and that is why they find it difficult to follow external orders. They are not defiant, they are just more intelligent.”
Unfortunately, the most superior quality of human brain is not well appreciated because our society expects children to conform and follow and not question the conventions. The established norm is that parents know it all and the children must comply with them and those who don’t are labeled difficult, stubborn, defiant, obstinate, etc. I prefer to call them, if I have to call them something, willful and strong headed which to me are compliments, not bad names.
“It is a good quality to be independent and inwardly intelligent and someone who is that will have own preferences and choices.”
If your child wants to watch T.V. now and study later it is because his mind is telling him to do that. If you tell him to do otherwise he may not listen, not because he doesn’t respect you or enjoys defying you but because his mind doesn’t want that.
So what to do if you have a child like that? First of all, be happy to know that your child has a working head in its place. That son of your friend who follows all that his mother tells him to do is the good obedient boy because his own mind doesn’t guide him. He may seem too good now but will be all trouble later when your friend’s influence will wane off and some not so good influence will replace it. So don’t compare your unmoving bull with the meek cow as your current troubles are nothing in front of what awaits the other ‘now happy’ mother.
Now let me again count your blessings.
- Your child is more intelligent, even intellectual. Stop criticizing him and pay attention to his/her qualities.
- Your child is independent and doesn’t need to hold on to someone all the times.
- Your child doesn’t copy others and doesn’t get influenced by others easily.
- Your child has better mental processes like memory, decision making, etc. as brain improves with more usage.
- Your child is a deep thinker and not superficial. He is unique and not just a second hand copy of someone.
If at all he is a copy then he is your copy. Either you or your spouse or you both were the same difficult youngsters and your parents too complained like you do now. In fact, your problem is not just your stubborn child but the stubborn you versus the stubborn child. So don’t fight your own self but be empathetic and just accept the fact that you have another mature mind in your house. And in case the disagreement persists, learn to give in and accept new viewpoints. There are definitely times when it is important for you to be heard. At those times, follow these smart tips.
- Just give suggestions and don’t preach.
- Say it in a story or through an example.
- Don’t give orders but options.
- Negotiate and reach a win-win outcome.
- Treat him/her as a mature person and give responsibilities.
“Remember, not all fights are worth fighting and winning. Let your strong willed child have his/her way, occasionally fail or fall, learn lessons and then change permanently and that will be his/her transformation and it will be lasting.”
I know all this because I am living with a stubborn child and I love every bit of it.