How to Raise a Hard-Headed Child

While some children are congenial, easy to get along with and cordial, others are anything but. If your child is of the latter variety, you may find your regular interactions with this tyke troublesome. From arguments about play dates to quarrels about bath time, it can feel like every conversation with your hard-headed little one is an exercise in futility. While you, unfortunately, may not be able to completely modify your child’s ways, there are some strategies you can use to penetrate his harder-than-usual cranium.

  1. Listen to your child. Stubborn children often have strong preferences, states Lisa Oppenheimer for If your hard-headed kiddo seems to get most upset when you make decisions without consulting her or proclaim that she must do something, reduce the frequency with which you act dictatorially, saving it only for important moments. If your child says she doesn’t want to go to a play date, listen and, occasionally, give in. When you later do force your child to do something, remind her of one of the times when you let her have her way.

  1. Support instead of demand. Instead of using demanding words, be positive and encouraging, suggests Terri Cettina for CNN. Don’t say, “You have to clean your room before you can go to that movie.” Re-focus your phrase, centering it on the positive and saying, instead, “As soon as you clean your room, you can go to that movie.”

  1. Distract your child with options. Use a sneak-attack approach to getting your child to do what you want, says Cettina. Instead of telling your child that she has to lay down for a nap, offer her an option. Try, for instance, “Do you want to put these toys away before you lay down, or would you rather leave them out and wait until bedtime for clean up?” While busy pondering this choice, your child will have no time to argue about the larger issue -- in this case, the universally loathed nap time.

  1. Involve your child in the decision making. If your child feels like she has some control over her life, she may be less eager to argue against every request you make. Hold regular family meetings in which your child is a participant, suggests Dave Nelson for Make decisions as a family at these meetings, allowing your child to influence the choice.

  1. Focus on your child’s feelings. There is likely something inspiring her to be so frustratingly hard-headed. Instead of trying to tackle the hardheadedness, focus on the cause to cure the problem at the root states Maureen Healy for Psychology Today. Ask your child to talk about her emotions, telling you what she is upset about. Help your child overcome the emotional upset that has her so commonly working against you instead of with you to make parenting this child easier.