I’ve always been told I’m stubborn. From the time I was a child, it was my way or the highway. But then I had a toddler who was just like me and I realized I didn’t have a clue what stubborn was until I had to go up against her. Now after working in a toddler room, I’ve dealt with stubborn toddlers before and I have some tricks up my sleeve. So here are 3 different ways I deal with a stubborn toddler.
This is actually my #1 life lesson for everyone. If something is starting to get on your nerves, you need to decide if it is worth engaging them or not. Sometimes my husband might forget to buy something at the store. In that moment, I have to decide whether I want to get upset and cause a fight with him or just let it go and move on. In this case, I would let it go.
Now with a stubborn toddler, you may be deciding on battles all day every day. But I have seen some nasty battles between parents and toddlers where I wished I could step in and tell them how ridiculous they were being. Having a 10 minute fight because you toddler wants to bring home their rain jacket and you want them to leave it at school? Just bring the darn jacket home. Trying to make your toddler wear a hat on a day that isn’t that cold? Just let them take it off.
When adults and toddlers get in a battle of wills, the child always loses. And really, that isn’t fair. So pick your battles. Choose to battle on matters of safety like sitting in a car seat in the car or wearing a coat on a frigid day. And make sure you read about why I don’t make food a fight.
I know that sometimes it is easy to just get lost in all of the little things of the day. We get to the point where we can’t see the forest for the trees. Instead of focusing on big goals and big things, we tend to get bogged down by the little things.
There have been days where I all of a sudden realize that I am nitpicking Mac for every tiny thing she is doing wrong and, in return, she is making more bad choices because she is angry. We are stuck in a cycle. So when she insists on climbing on the coffee table every 3 minutes, I look at the big picture and see that it really isn’t that big of a deal. Should she be climbing on the coffee table? No, not really. But if I’m having a stressful day, that can be a fight for another day.
Now, I’ve already written an extensive post about how and why to give a toddler choices, but here are some of the basics. Once a child reaches toddler age, they have realized that they are their own person and that they can have a say in their own lives. If you don’t let a child have a say in their own life, they will soon discover that there are exactly three things they can most definitely control: toileting, eating, and sleeping.
So instead, what you can do is give your toddler smaller choices throughout the day. This could include things like clothing, snacks, and what books to read. It is important to make the choice between two things, not a yes or no choice. Also make sure to not phrase something as a choice if it isn’t. Instead of saying “Do you need to go to the bathroom?”, you need to say “It’s time to go to the bathroom.”
If you’d like to read more in-depth about giving your toddler choices, make sure you read The Ultimate Guide to Giving Your Toddler Choices.