I am giving private parent coaching to a couple with a very strong-willed 7 year-old girl. She usually responds with “No” when asked to do anything. If pushed, the daughter will end up exploding and possibly hitting. Everything they’ve tried hasn’t worked. Telling her to calm down and to stop especially doesn’t work.
The best approach is to first change your own thoughts when you receive resistance so you better understand your child’s goal of their behavior. Start by analyzing the behavior so you can effectively direct the child to get their needs or goals met through positive behavior, rather than negative behavior.
Here is an email I received from the mom after I gave her advice to change her thoughts first and also about connecting emotionally while setting an expectation or limit.
Mom of 7 year-old girl wrote
Thank you for your feedback. I agree with you and will work on trying to replace the negative thoughts with positive ones.
Tonight, I was getting my daughter ready for bed. She was building LEGO’s and I knew that this would be a great opportunity to put some of these new skills to test. I said to her “you are having so much fun with building Legos. It’s time to get ready for bed”. She started to get upset and say “no”.
I saw this as the point where it could go very wrong if I didn’t choose my words correctly. I reminded myself that this wasn’t about me and her disobeying me. This was about her having fun and not wanting the fun to end.
Again, I commented on how fun Legos are and how hard it is to put them away. I then said that it was time to get ready for bed. She asked if she could put the pieces away before she went to bed. I said yes, after you finish up in the bathroom, you can put them away. Everything went smoothly. What a victory!!!
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©2018 Cynthia Klein, Bridges 2 Understanding, has been a Family Success Coach since 1994. She works with parents and organizations who want more cooperation, mutual respect and understanding between adults and children. Cynthia presents her expertise through speaking, private parenting coaching sessions, and her book, Ally Parenting: A Non-Adversarial Approach to Transform Conflict Into Cooperation. She works with parents of 5 – 25 year-old children.