Ask Dr. Joy: How to Out-Smart Your Stubborn Child

By WEEK Reporter

Ask Dr. Joy: How to Out-Smart Your Stubborn Child

August 24, 2011 Updated Aug 24, 2011 at 6:36 PM CDT

Do you have one of those strong willed children? We hate to call them stubborn, but you know who they are… whenever you say something they say the opposite. Dr. Joy Miller looks at some creative methods to parent that just might lower the verbal intensity and have your kids adhere to some smart parenting.

Strong willed children always seem to be challenging for parents. What are some of the strategies you have to share with us?

Dealing with stubborn children doesn’t have to be a constant fight.

Use your “brains” and outsmart them.

Kids who are strong willed want more control and the way to give it to them is to offer choices that fit your criteria for options.

Give us some examples of how we can create “smarter parenting”

Chores- always a difficult challenge

Play beat the clock. Make it a game… I bet you can’t clean up this area before the timer goes off. Stubborn kids love challenges and games. Keep a chart to win stickers towards a reward

Your child wants to do something and instead of saying, we can’t do that, try saying, “of course you can do that as soon as we get these toys put away.” The change in focus will make a dramatic difference

Bedtime- kids always want to stay up later

Offer the opportunity to stay up a little later, but help them get ready to actually fall asleep by offering them time to go to their room and do something quiet like reading or playing quietly. Tell them if they are quite read they can stay up a little longer

Offer up the same option but tell them they can pick a book between x and y and you can read it together and stay up a little longer. This creates quiet time prior to bed and increases your connection

Strong willed kids see this as a win if you present it in that fashion

Choosing clothes

Your child never likes what you pick out so let them choose their own clothes—but wait, if you don’t like their choices, then narrow down the choices in the closet.

Rotate the clothes every couple of weeks so they have new options

Give them a choice between two or three outfits and let them choose what they want to wear for the next day

Perhaps they don’t want to wear a coat to school—try putting them in the car that’s cold and when they ask you to turn up the heat or they are complaining about being cold, then take out a jacket you have hidden in the trunk. Let them face their consequences

Stubborn kids need to feel more control and have options, and a smart parent can still have their way by outsmarting their child and still do positive parenting.

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