stubborn kid
Behaviour, Toddlers, Welcome

How to discipline a stubborn child? 15 ways to discipline them


Motherhood is the most beautiful thing in this world but on the other hand parenting your child is very difficult task. The real battle begins when your baby is no more a baby but a toddler and you sweet cute little baby transform into a stubborn toddler. Toddlers behave differently than small babies, they starts walking around their 1st birthday and start exploring the world.

Most toddlers show interest in doing things by themselves and try to explore the things their own way. Stubbornness is the most common and normal behavior for them. Generally, by the age of 18 months till the age of 4 or 5 years, this stubbornness is on its peak. It begins when children discover they have the power to refuse other people’s requests. They respond negatively to many requests, including pleasant ones. In general, they are stubborn rather than cooperative. They delight in refusing a suggestion, whether it’s about getting dressed or taking off their clothes, taking a bath or getting out of the bathtub, going to bed or getting up.

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This can be very frustrating period for parents. I am also a mother and I can say that this is really very frustrating. My son was refusing almost everything that he was doing since he was a baby whether its food, bath time, nappy change, going out sitting on car seat, and so on, this list is too long to explain.

The toddler phase and the teenager phase are considered the toughest to handle. Here I will explain my ways of handling a stubborn toddler without any punishment. Yes, here I am not talking about the hitting, spanking or behaving aggressively with your child. As research says, this can lead to other mental and behavioral problems in their adulthood. Before talking about the ways I will explain the characteristics of a stubborn toddler. I hope after reading all these characteristics you will feel little relaxed.

Characteristics of a stubborn child

Here are some of the characteristics of stubborn toddler or child that you can look for. All of them are not bad, but for some kids this can be their behavior also. Stubborn kids are difficult to handle but it’s not that bad.

  • Tend to be fussy and independent.
  • They can have frequent temper tantrums
  • Stubborn kids tend to question everything which can be mistaken for rebellion
  • It can be difficult to get them into a routine as they are free-willed
  • They are committed and bent on doing what they like.
  • Always want to be the BOSS and have strong leadership qualities.
  • Tend to do everything at their own pace
  • They have a strong need to be acknowledged and heard. So they always want your attention.

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15 tips to discipline stubborn child

Here are my top 15 tips that I was also using to handle my very stubborn child and believe me I am still using these tips. I keep reminding myself about these tips whenever I lose my temper on my kid.

1.    Don’t Argue with a stubborn child, try to request them rather than command

Stubborn children are always ready for an argument, so try to avoid that and don’t give them a chance to argue. Always listen calmly what they want to say and when you feel they are ready to listen then try to tell your side of story. Try to do more conversation rather than an argument.

Always try to request them like please can you come here for a minute or please can you do this for me, try not to give commands like come here now or do this. This way they will understand that you want them to do this otherwise they will always ready to fight back.

2.    Try not to force them for anything, make a connection with them

Do not force your child to do something that they do not want to. This will only make them more stubborn and they will be bent on doing exactly what they are not supposed to do. So, if you want your child to stop doing some activity, always try to give some time out like, last 5 minutes, by this way their mind will understand that this has to finish in sometime. Try to explain them the reason behind every action, to make them understand the situation better.

3.    Use distractions

Sometime distractions work. Distract your toddler with a toy or any other activity instead of always saying NO or STOP when he wants to play with something that he shouldn’t. This trick works well for toddler under the age of 2 years when they have poor impulsive control and lack of cognitive ability to understand why you are saying NO.

4.    Offer some choices

Stubborn toddler always wants the control in their hand, they don’t want to listen. So rather than telling them what to do or what not, try to offer some choices. By offer them options to choose from as this makes them feel as if they have control over their lives and can independently decide what they would like to do. Keep the choices limited to avoid confusion for your child and offer only two or three options. Like if you want them to do their homework then you can ask which one you want to do first.

stubborn toddler

5.    Control your own anger

There is only one way of controlling your child’s anger is by controlling your own first. If you try to get angry on a stubborn toddler, they will behave exactly the same and will get angrier then you. Always behave calmly; behaving aggressively can lead to an aggressive behavior in kids also. Aggressive behavior can leave a strong impact on their mental health also.

6.    Always encourage or reward a good behavior

Praise your child whenever possible is always a good way to reduce negativity. Always encourage your child with some good words when he or she behaves nicely. You can also give them small reward for that like cook their favorite food, do their favorite activity, watch their favorite show on TV and so on ( Don’t give them expensive or big reward as it can make them habitual of it ).

You can also try not to use negative words such as No, Cannot, Will not etc. if you will use more negative works, child will also try to use those words more often. Try to use more Yes instead of No.

7.    Establish a good routine and try to follow that

Sticking to daily routines as well as weekly ones can help improve your child’s behavior as well as performance in school. Bedtime needs to be defined and should be such that it provides for plenty of rest for your child. Lack of sleep and being tired can lead to behavioral problems in children between the ages of three and twelve.

8.    Try to understand the situation from your child’s point of view

Always try to think from your child’s point of view that why he or she is behaving like this and work on the reason. For example if you promised for something and somehow couldn’t do that then try to explain the reason first. Your child will only see it as a broken promise, but by outlining why you cannot do that and by setting a later date for that, you can salvage the situation.

9.    Set some rules and punishment

It is always important to set some rules for certain behavior that which one is ok and which one is not ok.  Like hitting and spanking is not at all ok. Set some punishment for them and always stick to that. Stubborn children needs rules and regulations to thrive. So setting some rules and punishments is always important. Always be consistent in that but try not to rigid, be flexible some times. You can also set some rewards if they behave good, this will encourage them for good behavior and discipline.

10.    Keep positive environment at home

Positive environment is very important for positive behavior. Try to talk nicely with other members of your family so that child can learn from you. Kids always like to copy their parents, so behave nicely with your spouse, this will encourage them also. Make sure that your home is a place where your child feels happy, comfortable, and secure at all times. Try to avoid argument in front of your child.

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11.    Remember this is just a phase and a normal behavior of them

Rigidity is usually a sign of a healthy developing toddler, not a “stubborn” one. That’s because toddlers are just beginning to recognize and predict their routines. So much of their world is new, surprising, and completely out of their control, which can be equally exciting and frightening. Always try to comfort your kid when not behaving properly and keep in mind that this is just a phase, it will pass out in few years. Have patience and take it positively.

12.    Avoid excessive No to a stubborn child

Do your child say No to everything, if yes, then think about your attitude once that do you say NO to your child very often? Don’t say excessive NO. Try some other way like we will think about it, I will try to do or I will do it in sometime and so on. But save yourself from saying excessive No. This can lead to a negative attitude in child and he or she will also try to avoid every situation by saying NO.

13.    Don’t expect too much form a stubborn child

You should not expect too much from a little human, after all they are just 2 to 5 year old. What do you expect that they will follow all your rules and commands? No, they will not, kids love to explore new things and love to do things in their own way; don’t expect that they are going to do everything perfectly. It is important to understand that stubbornness is a part of the personality of some children while in others; it is their way of nudging the boundaries and asserting their will

14.    Don’t give choices when its non-negotiable

Don’t get too emotional and get trapped. Sometimes children cry for the things that need not to be done. So don’t give choices when it’s non-negotiable. Such as sitting in the car seat, are not open to discussion, although you can explain why the rule must be followed. Going to bed or to day care also is not negotiable. Don’t ask a question when there’s only one acceptable answer, but direct your child in as kind a way as possible. Commands such as “do this or else” should be avoided.

15.    Ignore some of the behavior of stubborn child

Try to ignore some of the behavior that doesn’t need your attention. This is the best way to handle stubborn toddler. If you will avoid some of things, by the time they will get bored and leave that particular thing by their own. In this way they will get enough chance to explore something that they want to and you will also not feel bad for saying NO to them.


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