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Dealing with a Defiant Child

Dealing with a Defiant Child

Because of increased stress, worry, and frustration attributable to restrictions during the pandemic, kids are exhibiting increased levels of defiance. We have had many parents calling us with concerns about more-than-usual defiance from their kids when they ask their kids to do something. Here are some Love and Logic steps that can help you when your child tells you, “I’m not doing that! You can’t make me!”

Step 1: Say, in a non-threatening way, “No problem. I care about you too much to fight with you about this. If it doesn’t get done, I’ll take care of it.”
Whom are you really talking to? You’re talking to yourself. The goal at this point is to allow the child or teen to believe that you are backing down so that you can create a solid plan for making their bad behavior their problem. This decreases the odds of having a destructive, even dangerous power struggle in the moment.

Step 2: Hope and pray they continue their defiance.
Don’t remind, nag, beg, bribe, or threaten. The fewer words you use, the better. Remember that every mistake or misbehavior is a wonderful opportunity to learn life’s most valuable lessons.

Step 3: Put together a plan and plug the holes.
Do you know a child or teen so bright that they quickly find the “loopholes” in every plan? You can plug the holes in your plan by first visiting with family, friends, colleagues, or other professionals who can offer ideas and support.

Step 4: Let loving empathy and consequences do the teaching.
There must be consequences, because defiance is damaging to everyone. It drains our energy, and it hurts the young person by leading them to believe that nasty, disrespectful behavior is okay. Kids will never enjoy peaceful and productive lives if they fail to develop proper submission and respect for authority. It is extremely important to remember that the consequences must be delivered with sincere empathy. This makes it far more likely that the defiant child will learn respect rather than resentment and greater rebelliousness.

Step 5: Remember to love the child even when it’s impossible to love their behavior.
This is tough, but it is very powerful. Hope is provided when kids know that nothing can separate them from our love.

Find more solutions for dealing with defiance in our webinar Success with Strong-Willed, Stubborn or Downright Defiant Kids.

 

Thanks for reading!

Dr. Charles Fay