Q: When my daughter gets an idea into her head, there is nothing I can do to change her mind. She is just so stubborn! I know that my husband and I can both be a bit “strong-willed” at times and I was just wondering if stubbornness is genetic. If so, is there any way to make both of our lives a bit more manageable?
A: The jury is still out on whether stubbornness is genetic; however, there are other ways that your daughter could have “inherited” this trait. If you and your husband often dig in your heels about certain issues, she could have picked up this behavior from you. That being said, being stubborn is not necessarily a bad thing (though it can get in the way of parents). Children who are stubborn develop many important traits that help them succeed as adults: self-confidence, problem solving skills, and perseverance.
Self-confidence comes from knowing what she wants and knowing that if she tries hard enough, she will achieve it. Problem solving skills evolve from numerous attempts to tackle the same issue from different angles. And, perseverance naturally arises when she continues to try no matter how big the obstacle in her path.
Okay, so stubbornness brings lots of benefits, but what about the negative consequences when raising a child? Is there a way to alleviate them? There are techniques you can use together with your child to transform her from stubborn to strong-willed.
Model compromise. As a parent, your children watch your every move in order to determine their course of action. If you show your daughter that you are willing to compromise even when you truly want something else, you will be teaching her that it is okay to back down occasionally. Through your own actions, you can influence your daughter’s behavior.
Listen. Sometimes your daughter might need to feel heard. Give her a say on issues that do not necessarily matter to you: the dinner menu on Wednesdays, her pajama outfits, or the order she does her homework in. Letting her have a say on small issues might allow you to have more sway on the larger matters.
Start small. When introducing something you know will inspire conflict, start small. Don’t expect big changes all at once; instead try to find a way to allow her to have most of “her way” while still tweaking the situation so that it is acceptable to you. With time, both of you will be more willing to work together if you see that small changes are successful.
Explain cooperation. Often children just need to understand why they need to compromise – so spell it out for your daughter. Explain the concept of give and take: sometimes you need to do something you don’t enjoy because the result will be positive.
Just remember, if you help your child choose her battles wisely, her stubbornness can come in handy! With self-confidence, problem solving skills, and perseverance, she can go far.
Register now for a Mindsets and ADHD workshop by Dr. Robert Brooks on November 13, 2018. Please call Mrs. Schonfeld at 718-382-5437 for more information.