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My Child Is Getting Stubborn. How Do I Handle This?

Dr. Ajay Gupta 90% (23 ratings)
MD - Paediatrics
Pediatrician, Bathinda  •  20 years experience


A common scene" while you are shopping with your child, he stops in front of a shop and asks for an expensive toy. You try convincing him that he already has many. He refuses to listen, starts crying rolls over on the floor, you try to stop. You yell and shout at him but nothing seems to work. You finally buy the toy for him. Now he is happy!”


Are all kids stubborn?

Most kids are stubborn at times. This is considered normal in the first few years of life. However, if this behavior is persistent, then it calls for evaluation and introspection on part of the parents.


What problems can arise due to their stubborn behavior?

  • A pervasive stubborn and adamant attitude in children can lead to the following:
  • Increased anxiety and stress in the family
  • Child may lag behind in academics
  • Child can develop an understanding that through his behavior, he can get his way always
  • Will have difficulty adjusting in school and with friends
  • May develop a defiant and aggressive attitude

Is punishment an effective method?

Punishment works as a temporary method to stop stubborn behavior. However, it is not recommended always. First it is important for parents to understand reason for kids being stubborn.


What can parents do when child is in the midst of a tantrum?

When the child is in the midst of a tantrum, it is important that parents stay calm and composed. Time out, walking away from the situation, ignoring the child, till he gets out of it is the best solution.


What is a time out?

Time-out is a form of behavioural modification that involves temporarily separating a child from an environment where unacceptable behavior occurred. Time-outs may be on a chair, in a corner, bedroom, or any other location where there are no distractions, and reduced access to fun items, activities and people.
This procedure is preferable to other punishments such as reprimanding, yelling at or spanking the child for their misbehavior.


How much time can I give a time out for?

Time outs must be brief. A rule of thumb for time outs is" one minute per year of age, for example if your child is 5 yrs old, time out given maybe for 5 mins.


What is positive reinforcement?

Positive reinforcement is catching your child doing good and praising/ rewarding him for the same. It is an effective means to improve behavior in children. Set up a target for your child, give him stars on days when he meets set goals and at the end of the week, reward him with something that he wants. This is called behavioral charting and is very effective in kids.


Common parenting tips to be followed:

  • Children learn by observing parents. Parents attitude and behavior influences child’s behavior in a major way
  • Listen, don’t argue
  • Stay calm
  • Reinforce positive behavior. Catch your child doing any good and praise him for it. Let him know his good behavior is being noticed and appreciated, it will help to increase this behavior
  • Ignore tantrums
  • Understand your child’s behavior
  • Do not give into his blackmailing
  • Spend quality time with your children. Let them know you are available for them
  • Be aware of your own emotions and actions
  • Respect them
  • Ensure your child is engaged and busy. Boredom many times can trigger tantrums
  • As parents, understand the difference between needs and wants

Identify the antecedents to their stubborn behavior. Do not scold them or beat them, but be composed when you deal with them. Do not give in to their demands in the midst of a tantrum. Ignoring the tantrum is the best way out.

Most crucial aspect is to ensure that all members of the family agree on the same disciplining method. Convince all at home that being firm with the child when he throws tantrums is in the best interest of the child.

Disclaimer" the information is based on standard medical guidelines and is purely informative. Not to be used for treatment.”

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