How to deal with Inflexibility in Kids

Posted by: blob

How to deal with Inflexibility in Kids - 04/19/10 09:02 PM

I'm wondering what some of you have done with regard to inflexiblity on the part of your kids.

DS7 has always had very strong opionions. When he was 4yo and in a church kindy, he came back announcing that there was no God. Why? Because there was no answer when he prayed. "It's just the teachers' imagination", he said. DH has leanings towards Buddhist philosophies. "No tks, Papa. It's ok for you but not for me." (Apologies - I don't mean to start a debate on religion or be offensive).

We've had a long running debate on mistakes and how positive they are because they help us learn. He's adamantly against it. "Sorry Mummy, you're just saying words. Words can mean nothing." Ok, he's work in progress.

While I admire his confidence, I also see that this attitude is very limiting - the decisions are made with little or no life experience. He's made up his mind about a lot of things and it's near impossible to change it. He's unwilling to try new things or experiences because he's decided they're too easy/boring/hard. Like he won't play chess even though he's very good with strategy games (Blokus; Risk)- he thinks he'll lose. He won't learn any musical instruments - too hard; books have to be about a certain genre or he won't even read something different from the same author (well, very reluctantly) - too boring.

What have you guys done about your kids with this sort of tendency? The gifted board suggested that I sign him up for a variety of different classes so that he can see that treading in unknown waters isn't always difficult or bad. But I'm concerned about enforcement (he'll fight against attending). I'm hoping to gradually encourage him into being more open about trying. So far, I've given in when he says no, but at some point, I'm hoping he can be more adventurous on his own. Will kids grow out of this?

Posted by: Austin

Re: How to deal with Inflexibility in Kids - 04/20/10 08:06 AM

Originally Posted By: cricket3
Her first suggestion was to have everyone sit in different spots at the dinner table. Well, to our surprise, DD was so upset by the new seating arrangement that she refused to sit at the table at all and ate by herself in the kitchen.

Well, at least that is a different seating location!!
Posted by: blob

Re: How to deal with Inflexibility in Kids - 04/20/10 04:56 PM

Hi Cricket3, Thanks for the support and the company! The kitchen incident is hilarious, but it's also telling. I haven't tried it yet, but changing dinner time to 30 mins earlier even though we're starving is also a no-no in our home - he'd rather have a glass of water first.

Maybe the only thing to do is to leave things "inadvertently" around the house, bring things up in conversation, and hopefully, it'll catch on, at some time. I've been talking about aikido for 2 years now, and oh well. Maybe it'll happen one day smile.

Another poster in a different thread talked about kids outgrowing so many things she worried about in the past, so perhaps this is one of them. Only time (and life experience) will change their minds.
Posted by: Dace

Re: How to deal with Inflexibility in Kids - 04/21/10 12:26 PM

Mine is has loosened up (a little) over the years, but I thought you would enjoy this....

One day little A, who was probably 2nd grade, was playing at the neighbors. I went to get him because his sisters and I decided it would be fun to go get ice cream. The fit he threw was enormous and any witness would be fairly certain I had hit him, or was at least pinching his arm the whole way home the way he carried on.

Fast forward a couple years, again playing at the neighbors....I go to get him because Daddy is coming home early to take him to a
pro baseball game. Oh Lordy, you would think the child was being tortured.

Yes, we did finally learn that A needs a little more time to switch gears.

Yesterday afternoon he was going shopping with dad to get new shoes. Dad said "We'll bring the bike and stop at the lake on our way home so that I can get in my run and you can keep me company"
The melt down included tears...he is now 14.
Posted by: blob

Re: How to deal with Inflexibility in Kids - 04/21/10 05:25 PM

Dace, so it's a long, long process huh? OK, at least the direction is right - he is loosening up a tad.

Cricket3, that's a great idea, getting the instructors to talk to him. That worked out very well, now that I recall, for swimming although that was on and off for many years and he's finally learning his strokes now smile. We've been to a lot of demos, and I'm still not giving up! I'm totally with you on the sneaky part, hehe, so I'll have to bide my time as I look for opportunities. Whatever works smoothly!!
Posted by: Kim B.

Re: How to deal with Inflexibility in Kids - 04/24/10 02:34 PM

Hi Blob,

I have a champion in the infexibility department. He is 8 and starting to embrace change.

I think it's a great idea to just leave things around the house for him to discover... This has worked very well for us in the past. I do sometimes force the issue, for instance switching seats in the car with his brother. I was prepared to listen to the whining and complaining for the entire ride, and that's exactly what happened. :-)

I do, on occasion, offer a reward he wants even more than he *doesn't* want to try something or participate in an activity. Often the reward gets him over the hump...but this is a huge departure from my days of swearing I'd NEVER bribe my kids! lol

Sneakiness, in a loving way, is a fabulous strategy.

Good luck!
Posted by: frannieandejsmom

Re: How to deal with Inflexibility in Kids - 04/29/11 06:56 PM

I just happened to see this post.. and would love some updates. I think I have a clone of Cricket's son! EJ is 5 and you would think I was beating the kid the first day of swim lessons a few weeks ago. We had a big scare on our Florida vacation and decided he MUST get in the water and learn to swim. ( We told him he couldn't go on the boat and go fishing this summer if he didn't). As for dinner... no one can sit in "his" seat. He will go hungry. I might have to try crazy dinner night and switch up the seats. He will happily do work at school.. nope not at home. He will say its too hard I can't... grrrrr

looking for some good suggestions to those of you who have been thru this

Posted by: BWBShari

Re: How to deal with Inflexibility in Kids - 04/29/11 08:40 PM

I too have one of these.... I stopped conning, bribing and leaving things around the house when he was 6. It was way too hit and miss. At 8, it is about choices. I tell him "you will play a sport" and give him the available choices. Ten I give him a couple of days to decide. If he hasn't I give him a few more days. If he still hasn't made a choice, then I do. This method works for anything, books you want him to read or chores that need to be done. My kiddo seems to need to feel that he has some sort of control and by allowing him to choose, things have gotten much better.

The secret to success here is that I, the MOM, am equally inflexible and have way more patience!

Posted by: DeeDee

Re: How to deal with Inflexibility in Kids - 04/29/11 08:43 PM

Originally Posted By: cricket3
in K, DD's teacher noted that inflexibility was a major issue, and suggested we change up little things at home. Her first suggestion was to have everyone sit in different spots at the dinner table. Well, to our surprise, DD was so upset by the new seating arrangement that she refused to sit at the table at all and ate by herself in the kitchen.

LOL but feeling your pain.

We have a super-inflexible child, and we practice sabotage. We run out of the favorite brand of bread. The favorite shirt is sometimes in the laundry. I cook non-favorite dinners and everyone has to say something nice about them. I drive a new way to the store or (horrors) don't say where we're going ahead of time. We started by changing up one small thing at a time and went from there.

Sabotage makes it feel worse in the beginning (you may see more meltdowns and protests) but after a while the child realizes it's not the end of the world for things to be different, and they get more relaxed about change in general. It's very effective.

Posted by: Giftodd

Re: How to deal with Inflexibility in Kids - 04/30/11 01:46 AM

Oh thank goodness, I thought this was just our house hold. I missed this post when it first came up, but boy can I relate to all these stories. Sigh... nothing to contribute. Just glad it's not only us and liking having a few ideas smile
Posted by: Licorice26

Re: How to deal with Inflexibility in Kids - 04/30/11 10:57 PM

My older kid (DS nearly6) is extremely inflexible. Any surprises, smallest changes to routine will lead to tantrums. We have recently started occupational therapy to overcome it. The OT also includes a listening program called ILS (integrated listening systems) and I feel even after a few times that it has made a difference already.

I like the sabotage program, we have used that a few times as well with the favorite cereal having run out :*) or mistakenly putting the wrong ingredient on the sandwich (when he was hungry and we had to run out of the door).

I am so glad that this forum exists and I am not feeling that I am the only one that has a kid with this extreme stubborn/ inflexible behavior. :*)
Posted by: Nautigal

Re: How to deal with Inflexibility in Kids - 05/01/11 12:14 PM

Oh yes, I definitely have at least one of those! DS8 has a most astonishing array of opinions about the world for someone who has almost no experience in it! And DD4 follows right in his footsteps, so I'm not sure if it's really her or just the nearness of brother. Everything has to be "just so", and it's a national catastrophe if something different is about to happen.

To be fair, they do come by it naturally.

It's just so frustrating when I can't get him interested in a book or movie or game that I know he would like, because he has this "thing" against it for no apparent reason. I still have many of my books from when I was a kid, and now my kid doesn't want to even look at them, because he's "not a fiction kind of guy". Arrrgh!
Posted by: Grinity

Re: How to deal with Inflexibility in Kids - 05/01/11 04:23 PM

Everyone in my family could be described as inflexible - particularly when stressed.

I've had great improvement with

Transforming the Difficult Child Workbook: An Interactive Guide to The Nurtured Heart Approach by Lisa Bravo, Howard Glasser

I love making a big fuss when DS or DH does even the littlest flex and praising their flexibility. I like those irrefutable moments of strength - and lecture on and on about it, even when I see DS start to squirm.

Posted by: daytripper75

Re: How to deal with Inflexibility in Kids - 05/02/11 08:41 AM

HA! I have one of these! I left my 4yo DS with my mother today crying because I threw out his old carseat last night. The carseat that he has not used in over 6 months.
My DD6 has always had a "bring it on" kind of personality. She'll tackle any task or activity. DS just told me that soccer was "too hard" on Saturday.
You know, you think you've got one kid figured out and the next one throws you for a loop!
I am definitely going to start trying some of the ideas here. The other thing I am going to keep doing is to not coddle him. If a carseat/whatever needs to go, it needs to go. It will be done in broad daylight with little apology and just enough explanation.
SO glad I'm not the only one!
Posted by: intparent

Re: How to deal with Inflexibility in Kids - 05/02/11 09:43 AM

Oh, yeah. There was the time when D (now 16) was about 4, and I made chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast (big treat). But... we were out of fat free Coolwhip (what they usually have with them), so just this one time I said they could have vanilla ice cream with them instead. Older D was thrilled, but the four year old threw a fit and wouldn't eat it. Just because it wasn't what she was used to.

A couple of tricks we have tried over the years:
- Bribery - D did not want to learn to swim, but she did want dance lessons. We made it a condition... get through level 4 of swimming, and you can have the dance lessons. She did it. Hated dance once she got there, but that is another story smile
- When they start something new, let them go for a one session try-out of you can arrange it. D started fencing this year. She really wasn't sure about it, so I asked the club if she could come one time and check it out before we commmited for a full quarter. She did, was comfortable enough to return, and now really loves it.