Toddler stubbornness is by far the worst!
Not only do they kick and scream, but they also provide absolutely no reason for the situation they are being stubborn about.
If you need some tips on how to deal with a stubborn Toddler then read on!
The stubbornness can be over absolutely anything, ranging from bath time, bedtime, dinner time, school time, 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.
I have 7 tips for you here that you can use immediately.
How To Deal With A Stubborn Toddler
- Talk On Their Level
- Do Not Argue
- Do Not Shout
- Question Them
- Stand Your Ground
- Negotiate – Hard
- Give Them Options
Talk On Their Level
When you need to know how to deal with a stubborn toddler, the first thing should do is talk to them on THEIR level.
It is too easy to become a dictator and bark orders at them without question, but in reality that only acts to strengthen their resolve.
Imagine a drill sergeant towering above a new recruit, bellowing orders that must be obeyed. That is what you need to avoid. In the Army, you know why you are there. Acting like this to a 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) then I need him to understand that we are doing this on an even keel.
Do Not Argue
They ARE going to argue back, 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.
Do not get into a situation where you are simply arguing against each other. Take a breath and instead of arguing back, simply remaining quiet and let 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
You cannot fight fire with fire!
A recent study has shown that yelling at your Child can result in them becoming more aggressive. It is vital that you show your Child the benefits of calm conflict resolution as early as possible!
Your Toddler will shout, but if you remained 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 just 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!
Why do you not want to get dressed?
It is a simple question, but one that absolutely needs to be asked.
Sure, you are not going to 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
Unless you want to be walked over for the rest of your life, you WILL need to stand your ground.
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 Dad backs down easily, the pressure will pile on during every single negotiation. When they know you back down easily, your Toddler will not learn some extremely important life skills, namely negotiation and reasoning.
They simply will not need to know how to negotiate because they do not need to at home. What they say goes, and you do not want your Toddler to grow up with that kind of attitude!
Negotiate – Hard
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 negotiating 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 to just damn well do what I tell him without question and my fallback position was for him to go back to playing after he got dressed. Time was against so so I was not keen on him playing afterward but I could let him play for another few minutes before we leave the house.
I began by getting down to his level. After explaining that I need him to get dressed, the notion is rejected. I go on to 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 simply demand that he gets dressed, it would have led to arguments, tears, and leaving the house in a bad mood.
Give Them Options
When your Toddler is being 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.
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 in fact, 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 curve-ball:
No, I want to play!
Well, that just isn’t one of the options Kid!
I really hope the 7 tips above will help you to deal with a stubborn Toddler. In fact, some of the tips above will help you deal with Adult stubbornness too!
Top of the list and something that you should do in any disagreement with a Toddler is to remain cool. Kids quickly learn how to push your buttons and the just love seeing your reaction.
The problem is that you are teaching them to react in 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 now!