Persistence is the main trait that causes power struggles between parent and child. They push more than most kids and never give up! You may have described your persistent child in the past as ‘determined’ and ‘strong-willed’ or ‘demanding’. Ignoring or distracting them hardly ever works! They lock in and are ready for battle!
For parents this trait can be totally EXHAUSTING! It can feel like a constant uphill battle. The word NO can send them into a frenzy which can be hard to get them out of, and other people view them as being ‘difficult’ and ‘stubborn’ (you may too!). However, persistence is a fantastic trait if taught to be used correctly.
So how does knowing this help parents?
Firstly it is important to let your child know that persistence is a fantastic trait to have, by using encouraging words like ‘You are committed and decisive’ or ‘You really know what you want’. The aim is to encourage persistence while teaching our children to respect us and others. Persistence in adulthood can take them far in their studies and careers.
With my very persistent daughter, I try to say YES as much as possible even when I’m really saying no. Let me explain: My daughter may ask if she can do her arts and crafts 5 mins before dinner is being served. Instead of saying ‘No dinner is ready in 5 mins’, which will almost always cause a fight, I say ‘Sure sweetie, as soon as dinner is finished I’ll help you get those out’. You’d be surprised how well this works.
My other tip here is to review your expectations. When I started to look at the rules I was imposing on my daughter, like eating at 5.30pm, sitting at the table and not moving around, not being allowed to splash in the bath etc., I started to realise that a lot of these ‘rules’ really didn’t have to be set in stone. If she wasn’t hungry at 5.30pm, I was happy to serve up at 6pm. As she finds is SO difficult to sit still to eat dinner, I allow her to get up every so often to let off some steam. How boring is it having a bath and not being able to splash?! So I put a couple of big towels on the bathroom floor and at least allowed a little splashing. Just changing my expectations made life SO MUCH EASIER!
Persistence is just one of nine traits that make up a person’s temperament. Over the next few weeks I will be exploring each trait and what they look like in the spirited child.