Raising Head-Buttingly Stubborn Children

When my first son hit the toddler stage I was convinced I had given birth to the most stubborn child on the planet. However, now that my youngest is four years old, I know I was wrong: the older child has the honor of being the second-most stubborn child on the planet. Somewhere along the line a particularly scandalous ancestor must have taken a Tijuana donkey show a little too far, because exotic DNA is the only explanation I can come up with for the mulish streak I've managed to breed into both of my offspring.

I'm kidding, of course, because it's actually incredibly obvious where my kids get their unreasonably unyielding nature: my husband. He's obstinate, fixed in his convictions, and tends to dig his heels in when he's told to do something he doesn't want to do, just like our children.



As for me, I'm basically known for my easygoing and flexible nature. I rarely complain! I enjoy new perspectives! And if you don't believe this about me it's too goddamned bad because I absolutely refuse to hear otherwise.

All right, FINE, it's possible that I also have the teeniest, tiniest tendency towards stubbornness, but shut up, this isn't about me. This is about my 4-year-old, whose bullheaded nature has become downright comical lately.

He's always been a bit on the strong-willed side—witness, if you will, his awesomely crabby post-nap attitude one year ago:

(As you can see, we aren't much for sympathy in this household.)

These days, he's far more verbal and colorfully expressive than the no, no I di'nt stage, and whenever his will is thwarted, he tends to launch into a hilarious running description of all the things he's mad about.

"Well I'm just not going to drink this milk, then."

"I guess I don't even like that Christmas tree."

"I don't want to see that dog. In fact, I don't want to see any dogs again ever."

"I won't sleep with this blanket because I'm mad at ALL the blankets."

"I'm not going to talk to you and, and, and … and I'm going to kick my foot like this." (kicks the air, randomly)

I think my favorite was the time I told him it was time to turn off Curious George and he said, "I guess if you buy me a chocolate chip cookie I'm not even going to eat it," before storming off to his bedroom, his corduroy pants further ruining the intended sullen effect with their chirpy vip vip vip vip sound.

The best part about his flareups is that they're ridiculously brief—moments after the clouds have gathered, he's all smiles and singing a little tune to himself again. I'll take this stage over the tantrumy toddler fishflopping any day, that's for sure. But oh man, this child can make anything and everything into a battle, from getting dressed in the morning to brushing his teeth at night. I tell myself it's probably good training for the teenage years, and at least he hasn't graduated to slamming doors and telling us he hates us AND our ass faces. Yet.

Do you have a stubborn kid? Does that sort of thing tend to be a stage, or is stubbornness a lifelong trait?

Image via Linda Sharps


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