"No, Mommy, No!"
Are some kids born stubborn -- or do they become that way as a result of the way they are raised? Well, the answer is yes. Some children, as a condition of inborn temperament, are less cooperative and more prone to resist being told what to do. And some kids, as a result of how they were raised, become more and more defiant and stubborn as they grow older. Here's how to deal with your stubborn kid.
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Applying this technique to parenting
How many parents do you know who set themselves up for the same kind of battles by barking orders that may not be enforceable at the time? This can lead to deadly results. Children who recognize that they can defy their parents become increasingly insecure and prone to test limits. Each time a parental request can be ignored or defied, the authority of the parent is reduced in the eyes of the children. It does not take long before these kids think, "I don't have to do anything my parent says."
It is important to remember that Love and Logic parents are not permissive. Even though they treat their children with dignity and seldom bark orders, they expect that their wishes and requests will be honored. Their children believe in that old saying, "Your wish is my command."
Children who live in Love and Logic homes have learned through experience that everybody wins when they are cooperative. Now, have these kids ever tested authority? Sure they have. How else did they learn that defiance doesn't pay?
Just like the teacher in the second scenario, parents can set themselves up to be winners in the arena of authority figure by using some of the following "Thinking Word Requests" instead of "Fight Word Demands":
Fighting word demand: "Take out the trash, and do it now!"
Thinking word request: "I'd appreciate your taking out the trash before bed time. Thanks."
Fighting word demand: "Don't you talk to me that way! You go to your room!"
Thinking word request: "Would you mind taking those words to your room? Thank you."
Fighting word demand: "You come here right now!"
Thinking word request: "Hey, Pal. Would you mind coming here? Thank you."
Fighting sord demand: "Go help your little sister. Do it now. I mean it!"
Thinking word request: "Would you mind helping your sister now. I'd appreciate it."
Some readers might consider these "Thinking word requests" as showing no authority at all. In fact, some readers might even say, "What a wimpy way to talk. How is any authority maintained when you speak so nicely to kids?" My answer is, "Don't be so quick to judge." Let's take one of these examples and follow it through to show how kids can learn that it is always best to comply when parents ask in a nice way:
Mom: "Would you mind taking those words to your room? Thank you."
Son: "No! I don't have to."
Mom: "Did I ask in a nice way?"
Son: "I suppose so. So what? I'm not leaving!"
Mom: "Not wise, son. I could learn a lot from this."
Mom walks off and allows her son to temporarily believe that he has won the battle. However, he will learn later about the foolishness of his decision. The following day he asks his mom to take him across town to his soccer game and discovers the results of being uncooperative:
Son: "Mom, will you take me to my game? Mrs. James can't drive today?"
Mom: "I don't know. Did you ask in a nice way?"
Son: "Sure. What's this all about?"
Mom: "Yesterday I learned from you that asking in a nice way doesn't get the job done. Remember that little episode when I asked, in a nice way, for you to go to your room? What did you teach me at that time?"
Son: "I don't know."
Mom: "You taught me that asking in a nice way doesn't mean all that much. I'd appreciate your giving that some thought. And some day when I feel better about your level of cooperation, I'll be glad to help out."
This brave mom did this expecting her son to start begging, complaining, grumbling, and the laying on of guilt. Of course he did! Our kids don't complain when we let them treat us like doormats.
And, you ask, "Did she give in and drive him to his game after hearing his begging and complaining?" Did she ask, "Now, have you learned your lesson?" Absolutely not! His angry behavior proved to her that she needed to provide this important lesson for her son.
Think about this. Do kids learn best from hearing about consequences? Or do they learn best from experiencing them? When President Theodore Roosevelt said, "Speak softly, but carry a big stick," he was not only talking to world leaders, but he was talking to us as parents and to our need to be loving authority figures for our children.