Parenting is not for the faint of heart, especially if you have a stubborn kid or the defiant child.
There have been days when my blood literally boiled from my own defiant kid. But the fact is, the more you dig in your heels, the more they do.
With the defiant child, you need to be prepared and more determined than your children are in order to help them get through the issues that arise. Having a game plan in place is crucial for your success and theirs. Consider incorporating these parenting strategies for dealing with the defiant child.
7 Parenting Strategies for Handling The Defiant Child
The defiant child tends to test your patience and parenting skills to the limit on a regular basis. (Sound familiar?!?) This is just part of raising children, for the most part. All children go through at least two defiant stages – the “terrible twos,” when they learn to say “no” and again in the teen years, when they say “no” as they practice making mature choices and decisions.
If your child has been diagnosed with ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder) by a doctor, you will encounter similar issues. However, there are differences related to frequency and severity due to the cause of the defiant behavior. This makes it even more important to have solid foundations, plans, and consequences in place.
Whether your child is going through one of the common defiant stages, dealing with ODD or has another major issue, it’s important to address the problem early. In fact, at the first sign of defiant behavior, model and teach your child acceptable ways to react and respond.
7 strategies to help all of you handle defiance issues successfully
Build a solid foundation
It is never too early to begin teaching your children good manners, conflict resolution, problem solving skills and social etiquette. The earlier you begin, the easier it will be for you and your children. Even before your babies are born, they are learning about the world around them: including actions, reactions, expectations, and consequences, or causes and effects. Don’t be afraid to start building the foundation during the baby stage.
Personally, I read Emily Post’s The Gift of Good Manners (affiliate) and still use it to figure out what’s age appropriate for my children and what I should start working on.
Establish boundaries, rules and consequences
Establish boundaries and rules early. These should address your expectations for your children as well as your own conduct. When setting up consequences for the defiant child, try to make them related to the specific issue.
Write down or discuss directly the consequences so kids know what will happen if they choose to disobey or ignore rules. Depending on what your child responds to, you may restrict or disallow the use of an item, especially if it contributed to the infraction.
I’m not a big fan of creating punishments. Instead, I make sure the consequences are directly tied to what’s going on. For a while, we were having problems with my older elementary-age son sneaking his iPhone into bed at night. I made it very clear that if I caught him doing it again, he would lose the phone for a full week. Sure enough, it happened and he lost the phone. It was a tough consequence to carry out for me, but one that needed to happen and definitely made the right impact.
Master your self-control
Model a calm, cool and collected attitude. The defiant child can be emotional and explosive. In order to deal successfully with children’s outbursts, you must control your own thoughts, emotions, actions and words.
Trust me… I understand that this can be easier said than done. If you need to, take time to calm down before addressing the behavior issue. There’s no reason you need to have a full discussion when you’re ready to explode yourself.
When you talk with your child, keep your tone of voice low, firm and decisive as you discuss family beliefs, values, expectations and rules.
When a child knows that consequences will not be enforced, they are less likely to follow the rules or stick to the boundaries. Your consistency in this matter will make a big difference.
For example, don’t allow your child to stay home when you go out if they have abused the privilege. Make them go with you or stay with a relative instead of enjoying their freedom, while you are not home. When it comes to restricting the use of items, the loss of a cell phone, video game, computer or television may be appropriate — but make sure the consequence fits what’s going on.
Don’t give your power away
The defiant child wants the last word. They also want you to give in to their wants and way of thinking. Refuse to argue with them. You don’t need to be nasty or raise your voice. Just end the conversation on your terms. Let the air out of that balloon, so to speak. Don’t let them wear you down.
But also keep in mind that there is a difference between not giving your power away and digging in your heels because you think you’re right. Choose your battles wisely and understand that keeping your power as a parent doesn’t necessarily mean drawing a line in the sand. When you’re setting up the rules, decide how important that rule truly is.
My husband and I joke that we don’t negotiate with terrorists. And there are days I will tell my kids, “This is not a negotiation.” But I never say that over something trivial or that, in the long run, doesn’t matter.
Refuse to bargain
Bargaining is a tool used by kids to get their way and get out of dealing with their responsibilities. No matter how they cry or complain, they must fix their mistake and then accept the consequences.
I have found that if I am willing to help my kids figure out how to fix their mistake, they are much more willing to work with me as well. And by the way, I’m also the first to admit to my own kids when I’ve been wrong as well.
Reinforce the positive
Instead of giving attention when they do something wrong, praise and reward their positive behaviors. Point out when they do something well or made a thoughtful decision. Don’t skimp on the positives if you want your child to model them.
We are a big fan of giving verbal positive reinforcement in our house. And when there’s a specific behavior we’re working on, we’ve developed reward systems that help our kids adopt that behavior initially and then turn that behavior into a habit. Then we move on to the next one!
Parents must take the time to plan and strategize when it comes to dealing with the defiant child. As stated earlier, you have to be determined and consistent when it comes to dealing with your stubborn or defiant children. Make your plan and include one or more of these 7 parenting strategies with your defiant children.
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