It’s common to find yourself frustrated with a child who chooses to be defiant – it’s a stage of growing up that everyone goes through, and different kids display such behaviour at different ages. Instead of a harsher approach, try these alternatives to let your child understand that being defiant will not get them their way.
When they refuse to do a task or assignment and start yelling “You can’t make me!”, simply tell them: “I love you too much to argue”.
Contrary to what immediately comes to mind, which is to give your child a lecture or yell back at them, using lesser words will show them that they don’t have an opportunity to fight you on the issue at hand. Threatening will work adversely, because they will try to push their boundaries even further.
When they are about to start an argument or choose to ignore you, put a pin in the situation and go ahead with your intention. Tell them: “I’m going to do this. We’ll talk about it later.”
If you are too eager to react immediately, your anxiousness may deter you from creating an ideal solution or anticipating how your child might react. Take the time to calm down and make the decision later.
Follow through with punishments or consequences the minute they are being defiant. If you say, “Stop doing that.” or “This will be the last warning.”, make sure that you continue with the consequences once they defy your instructions.
When you fail to follow through with the consequences you mention when they misbehave, they will continue to defy you even if they calm down on one occasion and stop being defiant. Since you are not consistent with following through on consequences, they will always take the chance to see if they can be in control and get their own way on another occasion.
Before you lay down the consequences, lead with empathy. Try words like, “This is so sad.” or “This is really disappointing.”
Offering kind words that display your emotions helps the child to think about their actions and the people that they have affected. It also maintains their love and respect for you.
Stick to positive phrases when you are trying to get your child to calm down. Try using, “I’ll talk to you when your voice is calm like mine.” or “Feel free to go and play once you have finished your homework.”
Instead of telling them what they can’t do or need to do, speaking positively like this encourages them to make their own decisions and correct their own behaviour.
Share your advice and experiences with handling defiant behaviour in children in the comments below!