Stubborn School-Aged Children

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Stubborn 6-year-old

Feb 2002

Help! Is it just my son, or are all 6 year olds this way? My son is a terrific kid, but we seem to constantly be in a power struggle because of his stubborn, willful behavior. Actually, I think it has much to do with myself being stubborn... we butt heads. His dad does not have quite the issues that I have with him. Is there a way you have found works for peaceful communications where it is a win/win situation? I love my son and I really want to tackle this issue with him before he hits the teen years and our relationship is beyond repair. HELP!

I can certainly relate! One book that really helped me put things in perspective is Kids, parents and power struggles by Mary Sheedy Kurchinka. I have a 6 1/2 year old daughter, and face a lot of the same issues, including daddy not having the same struggles as I do with our daughter. THings have improved dramatically lately, though, and I must say, I think it is due to my self-improvement efforts. I am for some reason able to be more patient, less power-driven, and, and mostly more empathetic (really trying ot see things from her perspective at the moment of the problem). In short - more clearly loving. I think parents can love their children more than anything in the world, but during moments of communication breakdown - kids can truly feel alone and unloved/unsupported. I don't know if any of htis strikes a chord with you, or not, but that has been my experience. I'd be happy to email/talk more about this if you want - it is a subject close to my heart! Lyla

My son did some similar issues when he was five and six. He's 7 1/2 now and it's not a problem any more. It takes a full bag of tricks to deal with and here is one. I could predict (or sense) the times when a problem would arise. So I tried two approaches: 1) It's a control issue, so I tried to give him as much control over his life as possible. Whenever I saw something that I *could* let him decide, I offered him the decision. E.g., do you want to use the blue plate or the brown one for dinner? It's cold--which long-sleeved shirt do you want to wear today? Let him decide as many simple things as possible and keep offering choices for him to select. 2) When it was over a difficult issue, I tried to review the options with him and modify the limitations wherever possible. E.g., Well you can't run into the street, but you can run over there! Let's go! Sorry, it's time to go now and I know that's hard because it's so much fun here. Let's plan when we can come back. Or guess what's waiting at home? These are simplistic, but you can find creative ways to give your kids more control over the little things in their lives so they aren't always hearing no. It takes a lot more time and thought, but will save struggles in the long run. Mary