My youngest son, Elijah, is the baby of our family. Since his birth in 2019, everybody around him raves about how “cute” he is. Everything he does around our house has made us laugh, smile or say “awww.” He is the epitome of the center of attention for our whole household. However, recently, he has been the opposite of “cute.” This transition snuck up so quickly that I didn’t have time to process it fully.
Now more than ever as his vocabulary has developed, we find ourselves in awe about how well he communicates. And though I am so proud of these verbal progressions, I am often at a loss on how to deal with them. These days, when it is something he doesn’t want to do, he politely tells me, “No, thank you.” Though I am elated that he has good manners, I also have to keep my cool with his defiance.
Our pediatrician recently prescribed Elijah some allergy medication to take daily. He flat-out refuses to take it. He doesn’t scream or cry about it; he just says, “No, thank you” and walks off. I am often left speechless. He has an easier time saying no than I do in my adult life. Lately, food has also been a struggle. He is extremely picky and will just move his plate out of the way when it is something he doesn’t want to eat. He doesn’t cry or whine, but rather he just doesn’t eat, a far cry from my typical emotional 13-year-old. But I digress. As a mom, I worry he isn’t getting enough healthy food because he chooses chicken nuggets over everything else.
Stubbornness is defined as “an unwavering determination to do something or act in a particular way.” I have been notorious for giving in, known for folding under those sweet eyes, quivering bottom lip and politeness of his decline line to do what I asked. But as Elijah gets older, he will expect others to cave to his wants and expect those around him to fulfill them.
I am actively working on ways to help him navigate his new found independence. Here’s what I do:
- I give choices. Both options I normally present are things I need him to do, but this gives him a chance to feel like he is making these decisions on his own.
- I praise the good behavior. Loudly.
- I give him lots of tasks. Many times he wants to just be a “big boy,” so I find things around the house to let him help with. This helps boost his confidence and helps keep down with
- I make everything seem cool. The trash can becomes a basketball goal. Cleaning up his room faster than his sister is now a game. I try to make mundane tasks seem fun and interesting so that he is more likely to comply without hesitation.
- Finally, I pick my battles. I realize what behaviors I need to address and others, I just let it go.