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Why is my daughter so stubborn?

Q: I have fraternal twins, 3.5-year-old girls. One of them has recently started throwing tantrums displaying extreme stubbornness. My wife & I share the bedtime routine & take turns every other night. She refuses to go to sleep & will insist that my wife come in on the nights that it is my turn. She seems to use it as ploy when she is unhappy with the status quo. My wife & I are stumped by her stubbornness. I recognise her strong will may serve her well some day. I certainly don’t want to break her spirit but I need help on how to handle this.

A:Parents often show inconsistency and impatience in disciplining their children. Children differ in their temperament, and it is harder to deal with those who take longer to soothe and prone to temper tantrums. There are several suggestions that could help your handling of your strong-willed twin. First of all, do not make bedtime or mealtimes into a power struggle. Bedtime should be a gradual phasing out of activities rather than a time of too much story telling and attention giving. The child should know that the parent is going to leave after a routine, and will not give in to extra demands. If she is still not sleepy, let her lie awake and not be given more attention. She will gradually learn that her tantrums will not bring any reward. Children often try to test the parents’ firmness. If you give in, her demands will increase next time. There was no need for you to come into the scene when your wife lost her patience. She should simply have told the child that she is leaving, and she should sleep on her own now. Your child realised that you both were hassled, and that was rewarding enough for her as she got attention. Insisting on her saying yes to future good behaviour was totally unnecessary. A three-year-old child does not remember verbal promises and you are simply wasting your time. Instead learn to stay cool, be firm and consistent, and ignore any unnecessary demands for attention at the wrong time.


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