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Parenting 101 for the Obstinate Child

Okay, so have you ever heard the phrase, “A face only a mother could love?” Yes, I have one of those and maybe you do, too.

Obstinate defined is stubborn, difficult to manage or control, persistent. Sounds like most kids, but when you have one who is really tailored made to fit this definition, typical parenting habits may not work. I battle with my son on silly little things like homework, cleaning his room, and just plain listening. What’s worked? Well, here’s a few tips:

1. Consistency, consistency, consistency. I know it’s hard but if you’re consistent, they will eventually get the picture.

2. Follow through: It’s so easy to say you’re going to do something and then find the follow through is hard. Take a breath before you make a threat. Be clear and concise with yourself and know that it is something you can say and carry out before you tell your child. Then do it. No matter how hard it is.

3. Reward…Some children respond better to rewards than punishment. We do TV tickets in our house. Everyday the kids can earn a half-hour TV ticket by exhibiting excellent behavior, or doing what they are told without a fuss. They have to earn their reward, after all, in the big, bad real world, they are not going to be handed everything on a silver platter, and our job is to prepare them for that.

4. Praise them when they do something right. Reassure them, praise them and let them know they’ve done a good thing.

5. Focus on the action and not the attitude. When disciplining, if your child is sent to “time-out” and the entire time he’s walking up the stairs, he’s upset or lashing out, try and ignore it best as you can. Focus on the fact that he’s doing it, even if he has an attitude while carrying it out. You can focus on the attitude later. Get him in the habit of doing the action first.

6. Be a good example and show them the way. Kids are little sponges, ready to be molded. Lead by example. Don’t get into it with a rude clerk at the store in front of the kids. Show them by your own actions appropriate problem solving.

7. Give them the tools. If you have a mouthy child, ask them how they could have responded differently to a situation that made them react badly. You’ll see they pretty much know what they should have done, they just need help implementing it.

8. Be patient. When they were learning to walk, we held their hands and patiently walked them around the house. Same thing with helping them learn self-control.

9. Let them help make the rules. They’re more likely to follow rules if they have some input. My son added to our rule list. “No jumping off the roof”. It’s become a personal favorite of mine.

10. Love them, love them, love them. Remind them that you love them even when they’re upset with you. But don’t make them love you back. They’ll love you in about 20 years when all of this makes sense to them.