8 Essentials for Parenting Stubborn and Determined Children

Arms crossed–

A hard look of defiance pierces into your soul.

You’re looking at a little monster and wondering,

“How on earth can this four-year-old have SO MUCH ATTITUDE!!!”

You’re looking at a person–little, yes–who is born into this world to be a confident and determined achiever.

Every child, even the “bratty” one, has the biggest heart that longs to accomplish greatness.

Since I strongly believe it’s up to us to SHOW these “little” fireballs HOW to use their stubbornness for good and not harm, I’ll discuss some essentials for parenting stubborn and determined children.

  1. It’s essential to realize that they’re people with deep reasoning skills.
  2. It’s essential to stay away from power struggles.
  3. It’s essential to remain cool, calm and confident.
  4. It’s essential to connect with your stubborn child.
  5. It’s essential to listen to your stubborn and determined child.
  6. It’s essential to give your child the freedom of choice and emotion.
  7. It’s essential to teach your child to use his determination to problem solve.
  8. It’s essential to enforce a routine that allows you and your child to be rested.


First of all, WHAT IS a stubborn child?

1) It’s essential to realize that your stubborn and determined child is a person with his or her own perspective.

According to the Merriam-Webster definition, stubbornness is an unyielding behaviour that is hard to handle or manage. 

Stubborn children know what they want, how they want it, and when. They test your limits and do all within their power to usurp your authority. Often, they have far-fetched ideas and opinions that are extremely difficult to handle. Their determination drives them to stand their ground or to try things out for themselves to validate them.

The little girl in the following video is the perfect example of how the mind a stubborn and determined child reveals brilliance in thinking and reasoning.

These determined little people work much like adults do. Their determination isn’t necessarily wrong; it’s just limited to what their young world has seen and learned. Our perspectives are broadened by living longer and experiencing more things. We can see the bigger picture. 

A stubborn child can then be defined as someone who has a limited perspective and feels strongly about it.

Once we firmly stand in our authority and learn to connect with our children by showing interest in their points of view, they feel safe to cooperate with us.

How do I gain back authority and connect with my stubborn child?

2) It’s essential to stay away from power struggles.

Power struggles happen when your child sees an opportunity to oppose or refuse what you ask of them. They want to be in charge, but clearly you, the parent, should be in charge.

Be confident that you are the parent. Be exceedingly consistent with enforcing discipline. The child needs to know that you’re serious about their behaviour, and that it’s not a game. There is a time when you give your child reasons for your decisions; other times you simply implement house rules and confidently stay in charge.

Be mindful that you are working WITH your child–not against them.

During cleanup times, turn the power struggle into a timed game. Challenge your child to see how much they can accomplish in the set time limit. You can even partner with your determined little one to do chores together. Mundane tasks are done much faster when you work together with someone else. 

Choose your battles wisely. If you know you won’t be able to follow through with a disciplinary action, save your words. Kids learn quickly if you mean what you say and follow through with it.

A child that doesn’t listen to you is challenging your authority. If you follow up your child’s disobedience with a consequence, you build authority. A consequence could simply mean you’re getting on their level and finding out what’s going on.

3) It’s essential to remain cool, calm and confident when you approach your stubborn child.

These little fireballs are out to test your boundaries and their own limits! It’s an extremely frustrating part of raising kids!

However, if you’re aware that they too have a valid opinion and perspective but depend on you for guidance to become mature adults, it may help you to firmly–calmly–stand your ground as their parent.

Stubbornness is drawn to explosive anger like a magnet. Your riled up emotions can trigger an onset of stubborn behaviour. When approaching your determined child, always stay cool and in control of your emotions

Approach your stubborn little one with self-control, kindness and respect. You don’t want to be that over-powering figure in their life. Find ways to compliment and praise your child’s good progress and accomplishments. Over time and with consistency, your calm and respectful approach is sure to be rewarded with willing cooperation.

4) It’s essential to connect with your child when he or she opposes your authority.  

Parents, always remember you’re in charge.

Put yourself at eye-level with them and keep eye contact with them. Speak in a firm and authoritative tone in order for them to know you mean business.

Sometimes, a child who opposes your authority just needs time to transition from one activity to another. You can sit down beside your determined little child and genuinely ask questions or comment on the game they’re playing.

When you enter into their zone by showing interest in their activities, they feel loved, understood and connected to you

Sometimes a child who opposes your authority just needs assurance of your love.

Connect with them by being real with them. Let them see that you don’t particularly enjoy certain tasks but you do them anyway. Be honest with them when you are tired or not well. Even have silly moments together to bond. Make an effort to spend quality time together to play and chat.

When kids can connect with authority figures, they tend to cooperate better

5) It’s essential to listen to your stubborn and determined child.

Your child’s need is to be heard and understood. You don’t have to bend to all their demands; but when you meet your child’s perspective with understanding and a listening ear, you can build a timeless connection

Before jumping to your own conclusions about their defiance, listen to them. Allow them to communicate with you what the real underlying problem is. Maybe they have a headache and reading makes it worse for them.

Children are developing individuals. You want them to have an opinion and backbone. Listen to their ideas and offer alternatives when those ideas are impractical. Allow them to ask questions to help them process through your reasoning.

6) It’s essential to give your child the freedom of choice and emotion.

Confidently, offer two choices. Having too many options is confusing and results in the child feeling overwhelmed. If your child refuses your two options, see that as a choice made.

If they don’t want to eat the meal you worked so hard to make, stay calm. Don’t let your emotions get the best of you. Let your determined child choose to make their own peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Very subtly, your stubborn little one has the tendency to control you. Remember consistency is key to developing a certain desired behaviour; stick with your decision firmly with kindness.

Allow tears. This is a natural way for your child to learn to feel and cope with disappointment. They need to be able to cry and show emotion. They need to know you will be a constant in their life and show your unconditional love even in the hard moments. 

7) It’s essential to teach your child to use his determination to solve problems.

Your child’s determination and stubbornness can be a learning tool to shape a problem-solver.

Outline the pros and cons for them, allowing them to see for themselves whether a particular choice has a beneficial outcome. Instead of giving them the solution so often, give them a chance to solve their own problems.

Guide their stubbornness to be persistent in accomplishing their own goals. If they’re in school, have them get dressed by themselves. Instead of helping them with math problems right away, have them think about the problem before responding to them.

Teach your children that stubbornness closes our minds and ultimately robs us of power.

8) It’s essential to enforce a routine that allows you and your child to be rested.

Routines help keep the home organized and functioning smoothly. Once the routines are set in place and implemented, chores take less time and chaos and many discipline issues practically disappear.

Stubbornness often derives from a lack of routine.

Your routine should include order, resting time, and playtime. Structure helps the child to be purposeful. As less chaos translates to more stable emotions, you’ll be able to spend more quality time with your child.

When your child is relaxed and thinks positively, his walls of defiance melt away and he’s much more obliged to cooperate with you.

Make sure your routine allows you to get time to rest and revive. Exhaustion even in adults causes us to respond to opposition impatiently and all too often, disrespectfully.

It’s essential to model behaviour to your stubborn and determined child.

Our patience and obvious interest in the lives of our children connects them to us. Our firm authority gives the structure these kids need to grow into mature adults who will accomplish great things.

Are you an exhausted parent? Do you wonder if it’s possible to have a family life where the children respect, listen and cooperate?

Know that it’s not too late to start gaining back your authority to influence your child’s determination positively.

Have you enjoyed the essentials for parenting stubborn and determined children?

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