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


boys, discipline


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kjbug... kjbugsmom1517

Ha... right along there with ya.... i too have 2 stubborn ones. Both girls. And there tantrums are not short lived. Lots of drama here...... shoot me now.

nonmember avatar Shannon

My middle daughter is much the same; she burns hot and wild when she's mad but it always passes quickly (though at times she does appear to be having rage-strokes when she gets super riled). Anyway, the funniest thing she has ever said when she's wallowing in The Mad was, ''YOU RUIN MY LIFE EVERYDAY!!'' punctuated by a slammed door. She is nine. Teenage years should be big-time super fun.

Jodi 'Box' Crain

lol, I have a pretty strong willed 3 year old DD!! Gotta love 'em!

navyma23 navyma23

Its a life long trait. Both girls. And just like PP, shoot me now! Its started at age 9 for us. Yikes.

nonmember avatar Brooke

My daughter was stubborn from the day I went into labor with her! My son, on the other hand, is one of the most laid back kids I've ever seen!

Betty Zam

@ Linda: I say determined not stubborn. I also say that its our job (my hubby's and mine) to channel that determination into better resources. :)

We do however believe in disciplining. ;) At his age maybe proper time outs will help him channel that determination(a spank every now and then doesn't hurt either)  But alas, I have gotten the same quips back. :) That channeling business is tough work! 

Misty Deffendoll

Well, you'd just love my 2 1/2 year old then. She calls me a bitch (I'd love to know where she learned how to even use the word since my family doesn't curse around her) and tells me I ruined her life. I'm starting to wonder where anyone got terrible 2's. I'm thinking terrible 3's.

Refur... Refurbished

I have a teenager that was the most stubborn 3-year-old, but he eventually grew into a reasonable child who is still very persistent about things he wants to accomplish.  Who knew that his teen years would actually be the easy part.

nonmember avatar megan

i have 3 head-buttingly stubborn children who do tell me they hate me, and i guess i was looking for some advice...


OMG!!! That's one of the cutest things I've seen in years.

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