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How Stubborn Children Learn Cooperation - 12 Parenting Solutions

By Jean Tracy, MSS

If you have a closed-minded child with a one-track mind, you're probably raising a stubborn child. When you feel worn-down with his determined “No's,” don't give up.

Today, we'll examine 7 typical comments parents hate to hear, 5 common behaviors of headstrong children, 12 parenting problems, and 12 positive parenting solutions.

Is your child unreasonable when he's in a disagreeable mood? Does he want everything his way? Does he demand using any of these statements?

7 Unpleasant Responses a Willful Child Might Use:

1. “No!”
2. “You can't make me!”
3. “I don't care!”
4. “Leave me alone!”
5. “I'll do what I want!
6. “Why can't I?”
7. “It's no big deal.”

Listen, most parents boil at such tough talk. Their natural tendency is to argue, lecture, or shout, “Do it, because I said so.” This is just a quick short-lived fix that teaches kids to lawyer back with questions, demands, and clever arguments.

There are better ways to respond that we'll offer later but first let's examine some hostile behaviors that frustrate many parents. Do your kids use any of these?

5 Self-Centered Behaviors in the Close-Minded Child:

A challenging youngster can fire up her parents' anger by -

1. Acting like she's in charge.
2. Speaking with disrespect.
3. Resisting cooperation.
4. Refusing to listen.
5. Improving a bit and soon backsliding into her stubborn behaviors (passive aggressive).

What's Good about Stubbornness?

Plenty! It can signal the beginnings of a strong determined mind that gets thing done. Perhaps your child is a focused, creative, enthusiastic spirit. But, like a parachute, the mind works best when his is open. And that's the key.

But how do you encourage him to open his mind, to listen, and see more points of view than his own? How do you help him keep the good side of stubbornness? How do you encourage cooperation?

Without realizing it, some parents make things worse by yelling, being too strict or giving up or being too lax. These mistakes help close the mind of a stubborn child.

Good parenting skills take balancing one's emotions, thoughts, and actions. Good parenting is kind, firm, and consistent. It's not easy and it's worth striving for because it encourages respect and cooperation.

12 Problems that Decrease Cooperation and 12 Solutions:

1. Problem: Creating too many extra-curricular activities that may promote exhaustion, hunger, and mule-like behavior.

Solution: Make sure the routine includes enough sleep, regular meals, and downtime for relaxing, playing, and day-dreaming.

2. Problem: Engaging in power struggles with your child.

Solution: Give choices. “You can do this or that.” Choices give her a sense of power and help her cooperate.

3. Problem: Lecturing when he is in an argumentative mood.

Solution: Use one word commands. In a serious, calm voice say, “Homework!” or “Dishes!” or “Bedtime!” Make your words fit the situation. No arguing.

4. Problem: A habit of acting angry and impatient with child.

Solution: Take 5 deep breaths. On the inhale for each breath say, “I'm in control” and on the exhale say, “of my feelings.” Then, when talking to your child, feel, look, and speak calmly and reasonably.

5. Problem: Using criticisms to promote better behavior in your youngster (being the critical judge) and receiving her anger in return.

Solution: Notice and compliment her positive actions. In turn, she is more likely to cooperate because she wants your approval. Write little love notes and put under her pillow or dinner plate.

6. Problem:Solving all his difficulties and telling him exactly what to do.

Solution: Ask him how he'd like to solve them. You may get more cooperation because this shows you believe in him. You won't be over-controlling and he's likely to become a better problem solver.

7. Problem: Allowing your child to be the parent, control you, and avoid his responsibilities.

Solution: Use this simple formula, First This, Then That. Say, “Homework first, then TV.”

8. Problem: Hearing her boss others and ignore what they want.

Solution: Chat when she is in a good mood. Ask, “How would you feel if someone treated you that way?” Teach her to be a leader by first finding out what other kids want before she states her choice. Encourage her to take turns.

9. Problem: Being too busy for quality time and chats with your child.

Solution: Post and use this formula – Daily caring chats = more cooperation and warm connections. Caring chats will make each of you feel close to each other.

10. Problem: He won't listen.

Solution: Model listening skills by direct eye contact, giving your full attention, speaking when he is close (no shouting from the next room), asking questions to show interest, and repeating the gist of what he said to show you heard. Ask your child to do the same (role-play).

11. Problem: Expecting her to read your mind and do what you're thinking.

Solution: Gain her attention by saying her name with a loving voice. Her ears will perk up because her name is her favorite word. Tell her clearly what's on your mind. She may cooperate more fully because of the caring way you said her name.

12. Problem: He's not picking up his toys, taking out the garbage, or putting his dirty clothes in the laundry basket.

Solutions: Write short notes from the toys, garbage, and dirty clothes like:

“Please put me back in the toy box.”
“Please take me out to the garbage can.”
“Please put me in the clothes basket.”

Conclusion for Helping Stubborn Children Cooperate

You can open your child's mind to the bigger points of view and still keep the good qualities embodied in stubbornness. How? You have the power to choose the way you react using the 12 solutions above. Practice the ones you need the most.

Realize that parenting is an everyday affair. The challenges keep coming because that's life. Yet, if you strive to be kind, firm, and consistent, you'll love being the parent while raising great children with terrific characters.


Watch this Brief Video The Stubborn Child - 5 Positive Parenting Solutions and find out how to raise children who respect you!

Pick up Discipline Tips for Parents with 41 specific solutions for 41 common behaviors. If you do, you'll get the love and respect you deserve. You'll be raising children with character too.

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