Who are you parenting? Has your child ever been described as stubborn, strong-willed or determined? While persistence is a wonderful trait it can also play into a negative pattern of behaviour. You say “no,” and your child pushes harder. You might find yourself giving in, “Fine then, get the tattoo you little six-year-old!” Or, you might get locked into power struggles that escalate. The good news is that you can turn this around.
First, if you are going to give in, give in right away! Don’t engage in a debate; this only trains your child to argue every time they hear no. If you aren’t sure about your answer, ask for a moment to think about it. Use this time to do a control check. Am I sweating the small stuff? Is he needing more freedom or independence? Am I being stubborn? Is this a limit that matters?
If there is a negative pattern or an ongoing issue, work it out with your child at a neutral time, not in the heat of the moment. Persistent kids are great at going along with a plan if they are a part of it. Explain your desire to be fair and considerate and why having time to think about your answer is important. What could this look like? You can also explain that you are likely to say “no” if there is a demand. This isn’t being over-controlling; it is teaching a boundary that applies to all relationships. It is respectful to give people time to think about things and hear a no. When there is a reasonable no, state the reason for the limit and give your child empathy. Persistent kids grieve the loss of their ideas. They feel the disappointment strongly. Let them know you understand they are disappointed and why they feel that way. This can help your child change gears. You also need to know when to end the conversation. Continuing with explanations too long or getting wrapped up in the negative emotions doesn’t give your child the chance to move on. At this point, you may lovingly disengage, perhaps a good time to use the washroom? Now your persistent child might try to follow you so explain your need for privacy. Once you are in there, turn on the taps, breathe and congratulate yourself as you look in the mirror. “That was a reasonable NO! Good job!”