Could I be making my child more stubborn?

Do you sometimes think your child hasn't outgrown the terrible-twos? Do you often feel helpless and have to give in to the demands of your stubborn child? He cries, shouts and screams if his demands are not met and however much you tell him to behave himself, he just won’t listen? 

Of course, a child would want a toy and want it now. He doesn't have a well-defined concept of time. So, it's all now, just now. When you try to postpone it by saying “OK, I will give it to you later”, he is unable to understand when this "later" will come. So, he keeps insisting. 

But stubbornness is most commonly a learnt behaviour. He has learnt that if he insists and asks often enough, he will get it NOW!

Do not give in to tantrums and make your child more stubborn. It can get tough to make that change, but you need not feel helpless. It's in your hands!

  • Don’t give in to all his demands. Understand the importance of saying "no" and still love your child. You are doing it for his good. 
  • You may have bought the toy, but ask your child to postpone using it so that he isn't instantly gratified.
  • Motivate him to “deserve” or “earn” it as a reward for good behaviour. 
  • Once you’ve said no, try to reason out firmly why you don't want to give in. Explain that he has enough toys; he’s finished watching his quota of  TV for the day; too many candies will ruin his teeth...
  • Roleplay and show how the child appears when he is stubborn and when he isn't stubborn. 
  • Talk to your child about how others postpone their demands or needs and learn to accept it. 
  • Set a good example by not being stubborn or rigid yourself. 

While you do the above, there are also some questions you need to ask yourself:

  • Is giving them things (toys, gifts, candies…) a way of expressing your love?
  • Are you just so involved with your own work or chores or enjoyment that it’s easier to give in than have a whining child at your back? 
  • Are you afraid your spouse, in-laws etc. are more “popular” with your child than you are?

If you have answered "yes" to some of these questions then your own issues may be contributing to the problem. Speak to our counsellors to see how these might be influencing your parenting decisions and how best to address them.

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