How To Deal With A Stubborn Toddler – 7 Tips

Toddler’s stubbornness is by far the worst! Not only do they kick and scream, but they also provide no reason for the situation they are stubborn about.

The stubbornness can be over absolutely anything, ranging from bath time, bedtime, and even at 3-am when they think they have had enough sleep. It is extremely frustrating and can lead to a full-on argument between parent and child. It does not have to be that way, though.

If you need some tips on dealing with a stubborn toddler, read on…

I have 7 tips for you here that you can use immediately.

How To Deal With A Stubborn Toddler

how to deal with a stubborn toddler (1)

Talk On Their Level

How To Deal With A Stubborn Toddler get to their level

When you need to know how to deal with a very stubborn toddler, you should first talk to them on THEIR level.

It is too easy to become a dictator and bark orders at your toddler without question, but in reality that only acts to strengthen their resolve.

Imagine a drill sergeant towering above a new recruit, bellowing orders he must obey. That is what you need to avoid. In the Army, you know why you are there. Acting like this to a stubborn toddler is not going to work.

When dealing with my stubborn toddler, I make a start by physically getting down to his level. If I am going to get him to do what I need him to do (get dressed, brush his teeth), I need him to understand that we are doing this on an even keel.

Do Not Argue

How To Deal With A Stubborn Toddler no arguing

They ARE going to argue back, and you need to understand that. Although I am sure you are more than aware!

You need to be in a fully chilled state when negotiating.

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Do not get into a situation where you are simply arguing against each other. Instead of arguing back, simply remaining quiet and letting them have their say. This is not a sign of weakness. This is a sign that you are willing to listen. But this is going to go your way.

Do Not Shout

How To Deal With A Stubborn Toddler no shouting

You cannot fight fire with fire!

A recent study has shown that yelling at your child can result in them becoming more aggressive. You must show your Child the benefits of calm conflict resolution as early as possible!

Your toddler will shout, but if you remain calm, then slowly, they will learn that shouting DOES NOT rattle your cage, and it certainly does not get them what they want.

For me, this was one of my biggest challenges. I used to get frustrated that my son could not understand simple instructions and my reasoning. Then I realized that there is no reasoning with a toddler. You need to keep to the same structure until they understand the process and work with it.

I will let you know when that time comes!

Question Them

How To Deal With A Stubborn Toddler ask questions


Why do you not want to get dressed?

It is a simple question, but one that needs to be asked.

Sure, you will not get a sensible answer or even an answer that makes any sense in terms of reasoning. BUT, it does need to be asked.

When you ask questions, you get answers. When you have the answer, you can explain WHY they need to do what you are asking.

You will be giving a reason why and that is very important for your toddler to begin to understand the art of reasoning.

Stand Your Ground

How To Deal With A Stubborn Toddler stand firm

Unless you want to be walked over for the rest of your life, you WILL need to stand your ground. This is key if you want to know how to manage a stubborn toddler.

If you do not stand your ground you will be on the losing team now, next year, and for many years to come.

When they learn that cad backs down easily, the pressure will pile on during every negotiation. When they know you back down easily, your stubborn toddler will not learn fundamental life skills, namely negotiation and reasoning.

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They will not need to know how to negotiate because they do not need to at home. They say goes, and you do not want your toddler to grow up with that attitude!

Negotiate – Hard

How To Deal With A Stubborn Toddler negotiate

With all negotiations, you need your ideal position and your fallback position.

Ideal Position: What YOU want them to do.

Fallback position: The worst outcome that you are STILL happy with.

Approach the negotiation by following some of the steps above. Get down on their level and make a start.

Let’s take a look at a recent example for me. My son needed to get dressed, but he wanted to carry on playing.

My ideal position was for him just damn well to do what I told him without question, and my fallback position was for him to go back to playing after he got dressed. Time was against me, so I was not keen on him playing afterward, but I could let him play for another few minutes before we left the house.

I began by getting down to his level. After explaining that I need him to get dressed, the notion is rejected. I explain that we are in a rush and suggest that he can play for 5 minutes once he is dressed. The offer is accepted, and he gets dressed. As soon as he is dressed, I remind him of the deal and set a timer for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, we leave the house.

If I were to demand that he gets dressed, it would have led to arguments, tears, and leaving the house in a bad mood.

Give Them Options

How To Deal With A Stubborn Toddler give options

When your toddler is stubborn, giving them options is a tip you can try.

Giving Children options makes them feel as if they are in control of what they do. It is a very important part of their development.

I say TRY because it works MOST of the time, but not ALL of the time.

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Let’s say it is time for bed for your toddler. You are happy to read them a story first, too. You could give them the following decision to make:

Do you want to go to bed now? Or do you want to go to bed after a story?

If your toddler is anything like mine, they will pick the second choice. He thinks he is making the decision, but I am giving him my preferred choice as the best choice for him.

It is a classic trick that you can use for all occasions.

Sometimes though, he will hit me with a curveball:

No, I want to play!

Well, that isn’t one of the options, Kid!


I really hope the 7 tips above will help you to deal with a stubborn toddler. Some of the tips above will help you deal with adult stubbornness too!

Top of the list and something you should do in any disagreement with a toddler, remain cool. Kids quickly learn how to push your buttons, and they love seeing your reaction.

The problem is that you are teaching them to react the same way. When they have to deal with disagreements at School, their first reaction is to apply what they have learned from you. If you shout at them, they will shout at others.

It is your job to teach them how to deal with these situations in the real world, starting with your extremely stubborn toddler!

Good luck!


About ME

Let’s start with the obvious, I’m a dad.

I have 2 kids. One was dragged out from the comfort of his Mother’s womb kicking and screaming, and the other was a little easier.

Dad Gold was created to give tips that I wish someone had given me!

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