As your child approaches the age of about three, you will see your child making more decisions of her own, sometimes even defying your decisions at times. You may come to a point when you will want to pull your hair out, scream till the bats hear you or stomp your feet to your room (or all of these at the same time); but we are going to show you how you can get your preschool child back.
At our child care center, we have children of various personalities. There are children with normal levels of stubbornness; there are some who are very strong-willed. Our Montessori teachers know that a straightforward method of getting children to follow directions or to behave may not work with all the children. Children want to be in charge, but so do you!
Parenting educator Sharon Silver of Proactive Parenting explains that a ‘sneaky aka smart’ parenting technique is one worth trying. Instead of approaching your children straight on which usually results in bad cases of verbal combat, so for the sideways approach – one where you use doses of calmness, lots of respect and a lot of creativity to get what you want done. It is a big part of human nature, including young children to want to be included in decisions about their daily life. With children who want control, simply by asking their opinion or giving them a choice gives you an easy way to get them to do what ‘we’ want. Try these simple strategies out.
- Beat the clock: This always works well with young children, according to our daycare teachers. After a playing session, we always turn picking up toys to a beat-the time buzzer game. You will notice that stubborn children always like taking up challenges. See how well she takes up this challenge, and at the end, you could even put up a ‘beat-the –buzzer’ chart and fill it up with stickers.
- Helper cards: Make some helper cards and ask your child to fill in each card a chore or activity that she thinks she is good at. To play this game, ask your child if she would like to be your special helper today and ask her to pick a card. Good examples of cards are setting the dinner table, cleaning the mirror, gathering laundry, putting books away, etc. You could get her a special badge to wear when she is helping. At the end, reward her with some positive praise and a treat and see how privileged she feels for having helped you!
- Think positive: Rather than suing typical parenting threats of ‘if you don’t so this….’, ‘you’d better listen….’, ‘we can’t do this till you do that….’ where you will get a backlash of animosity and grumpiness from your stubborn child, use a positive approach in your words. Instead of saying, ‘We can’t go out to play until all your toys are put away!’, you might want to say ‘As soon as your toys are put away, we can all go and have a great time at the park, and maybe get an ice-cream too!’ A softer, and more positive approach will get your child to want to listen to you.