There’s something about a child looking Mom or Dad in the eye and saying “You can’t make me do it” or “I hate you” that makes parents question everything they’ve ever done. These annoying behaviors can be more effectively managed when the goal is to motivate a child, not to merely punish them. Below are several strategies to help parents maintain their composure when dealing with defiant kids.
Don’t Take Things Personally
Children don’t refuse to do things just to frustrate their parents. Defiant and rigid behavior indicates that the child feels disconnected. A child behaving badly doesn’t do it to get attention; they do it because they need to feel connected to their parents. Becoming angry and acting controlling in these instances is one of the worst things a parent can do.
Think About Why Kids Say “No”
Imagine being told what to do, where to go, and how to do it, all day, every day. With these thoughts, it’s easy to see why kids get defiant sometimes! While it’s not good to let kids run the home, it’s important to try to see things from their point of view once in a while. Trying on the perspective of no autonomy can help parents empathize with kids’ desire for control, even if it comes out as defiance.
Honor the Child’s Feelings
Allow children to feel rebellious and engage them warmly. When parents narrate the situation, it creates a pause in the anger cycle they and the child have entered, and the child feels validated. And, because there was no power struggle, there’s no control or authority to rebel against.
Maintain a Positive View of the Child
Know that raising kind, respectful, productive future adults is a marathon rather than a sprint. This is a great time for some positive self-talk, as in: “My kids are still learning, and they need my guidance.” Just because a child refuses to do something at one point, doesn’t mean they won’t comply later.
It’s very hard for parents to keep themselves calm and in a frame of mind that allows them to respond rather than react to their kids’ defiant behavior. Parents should remember that children learn by example, and when they see their Mom and Dad modeling calm behavior, they’re more likely to be non-defiant. Get more information for parents by visiting the website.