One of the hardest parts about being a parent is dealing with the often illogical temper tantrums and emotional outbursts kids have.
I chalk it up to kids knowing exactly what they want and being utterly upset whenever life isn't as magical as they want it to be.
My son, for example, has some very strong opinions on what his toy octopus's name is. If you call it by another name, he doesn't really get that heated. But for some reason, whenever I or my mother-in-law call "Oscar the Octopus" the name Hassaballa, my son absolutely loses it.
I'm talking a full-on freakout, like I just accused him of murder and he's going to lose the house and his wife is getting everything in the divorce. Parents everywhere have stories of their own involving their children getting angry over seemingly inconsequential things.
Think of the weird standards you had yourself when you were a kid. Your sandwich had to be cut a certain way. Your clothes needed to fit a specific way. You'd only watch specific TV shows and god forbid if you had to wait 'til tomorrow to do anything. That might as well have been another lifetime you were waiting for.
This behavioral characteristic will hopefully be redirected for like, you know, meaningful things when you're older. Imagine if as an adult you had the same dogged stubbornness over your career goals? You'd be unstoppable
There are obviously some childhood traits that wouldn't serve an adult all that well, however. Like this bit of infuriating indecisiveness. And random hatred for giraffes.
Having a stubborn kid might make you want to hang yourself with your shoelaces, but according to a lot of child behavioral psychologists, it could be a good thing.
According to a study that took place over the course of several years, children who are very strong-willed, opinionated, and prone to breaking the rules set for them by their parents and educators go on to become over-achievers in a variety of fields.
From academics, to their careers, to earning higher incomes, the kids who were resolved to do things their way no matter what havoc they caused were more likely to succeed. Many believe there is a direct correlation between this behavioral trait and their success.
Although the reasons for the positive correlation are still somewhat murky, Time brought up some good suggestions for why this could be. Imagine if, years down the road, nurturing your child's innately stubborn nature has helped them achieve more "worthwhile" goals.
Teach them that stubbornness can be put to good use in a pressurized situation with important stakes, like salary negotiations. You've taught them to be bullheaded for something they believe they deserve and have the evidence to back it up. That strong-willed kid is most likely not going to back down when they're at that negotiating table.
Or imagine they're in the classroom, and they've got a mind to be the best darn student in that class. Tell them to channel that will into making it happen by studying their butts off.
While all of this pro-stubbornness talk is fine and dandy, you probably don't want your kid to stay stubborn about things they really shouldn't pay too much attention to. Like the fact that you gave them Kirkland Organic Cheddar ducks instead of regular old Goldfish. Relax kid, they taste exactly the same.
Mom Junction has some pointers on dealing with a stubborn child, in case you're losing your last bit of sanity trying to deal with them and don't want to just sit them down with a tablet to get a break from their nonsense.
For one thing, arguing with a stubborn kid is a bad idea, and it's better to just listen. Even if it's gibberish, if a kid feels like they aren't being heard out, they're probably not going to listen to you all that much either.
Forcing them to do anything is also a bad idea. Instead, work on "connecting" with them by engaging in the activities they like. So if you tell them it's time to put the Play-Doh away, they'll get the sense that it's something that just has to be done, because you enjoy playing with Pla Rather than you just being a party pooper and sending them off to bed.
Staying calm and respecting your kid is also a huge part of dealing with a stubborn child. If you lose your cool and arguing back, it validates their bad behavior because you too are behaving badly over something so silly.
If you're a parent and deal with a tantrum-prone child, my heart goes out to you. But remember: we had these little monsters and, for better or worse, we need to make raising them as fun and fulfilling as possible. There will always be bad days — don't make them worse by throwing a silly tantrum yourself.
At least not in front of the kid.