How to Get Your Stubborn Child to Listen (and Work with You)

It can be difficult as a parent to know what to do when your child starts acting stubborn. It seems ingrained in some children to be full of sass, and they do it to the best of their abilities. This leaves a lot of parents pulling out their hair, wondering what to do. How can you get your child to listen to you and work with you rather than do the opposite of whatever you say? Here are some things you can do to get your stubborn child to listen.

Entice Your Child’s Playful Side

Stubborn or willful children are often more playful and interested by challenges and games. If they always want to play but never want to clean up their mess, you can turn it into a race to clean up. For example, if they threw their toys all over the place, challenge them to put away as many toys as they can in a designated timeframe. You can take this a step further by keeping a table on how well they’ve done, compare their time and score to past scores, and reward them when they beat an old record.

Try To Stay On The Positive Side

Use words which build up your child rather than tear them down. When a stubborn child hears statements such as “You will not play until you’ve cleaned your room,” they take it as a challenge. Instead, rephrase your statement to “As soon as you finish cleaning your room, we get to go play!”

Getting Your Child To Say Yes

This is an easy way to lessen the amount of resistance your child displays and also lets them feel as if they are being understood and you are listening. For example, ask simple things of your child, such as “Wow, what a pretty picture, you sure are having fun, aren’t you?” Follow it up with two more questions for a total of three yeses in a row.

Give Your Child Some Options

If your child has difficulty going through routines such as bath time or bedtime, there are ways you can guide them into the next stage by giving them options. For example, if you are ready to end bath time, ask, “Do you want me to help dry you off or do you want to do it yourself?” If your child refuses and wants neither option, reply that was not one of the options. Children don’t like to hear the same thing repeated, and will hopefully relent. If not, take away the option and tell them you’ll try again tomorrow.

The Homework Blues

If you feel like you do more homework than your child does, there’s a problem. Before chastising your child and forcing them to do it by themselves, consider why they might be seeking your help for every problem. They could be feeling overwhelmed or unable to focus, which you can help by breaking their homework down into manageable portions. Let them do a few problems at a time, take a small break, and then continue with the work. Set a timer if your child has more difficult questions, perhaps allowing a 10-minute work period and then a short break to let them settle on what they’ve dealt with. Continue this until your child has completed their homework.

It can feel hopeless when you don’t know how to communicate with your child and get them to understand you have their best interest at heart. You’ll make it through this stage, and you and your child will have an even stronger bond, just give it time and patience.