I know that when my children become defiant, my initial reaction is to lash out at them and get really angry. “How dare they!” I will think. “After all I do for them, this is the way they talk to me!” My thoughts can go even further downhill, “I will make them do as I say! I will show them who is boss!” I will then find myself embroiled in conflict before I can even blink. Once I get going it can be hard to stop. The only thing that does put a halt to all the negativity is to think of why my child is being defiant and give myself a quick review of a child’s mindset.The real key to managing your defiant child is to understand why they are defiant in the first place.
Reasons For Defiant Behavior:
I try to remind myself that every child wants their parents approval. It means everything to a child.If they are not behaving appropriately, then they can’t. They have other needs that are not being met. Maybe it is because they are independent minded and following direct commands humiliates them. They may need a way to save face. They could be tired and annoyed. They may have just come home from school and need some time to unwind. They may be testing your rules to see if you will give in. They might have spend the whole day having to following the demands of a tough teacher and need a break. A big cause for defiance in my house is if my kids feel that they have to do more than their siblings, whether or not it is actually true.
Be Positive Instead of Angry:
Once you have an understanding of why your child shows defiance you can react to their defiance with compassion instead of anger. You might initially feel mad but try to ignore that gut reaction and move into more positive thinking. Instead of saying to yourself, “How dare they!” try instead “Something must be really bothering them to be speaking to me in this way. Something is going on inside their brain that is making them act defiant.” This helps keep the frustration at bay and will help you focus on more effective ways to respond to your child.
Use Empathy, Choices and Solutions:
The best way to respond to a defiant child is with empathy. You can reflect their feelings back to them. This helps both you and your child to remain calm. You can then give your child some choices which gives them a feeling of control. Lastly, you can invite your child to come up with some solutions on how you can manage your future interactions.
Here is an example of how this can work:
When your child says:
Deliver Empathy and Choices:
Invite Your Child To Come Up With Solutions:
Stopping yourself from responding in kind when your child is defiant takes a lot of hard internal work. It is worth it. Delivering empathy is the secret to stopping arguments. Choices and inviting children to come up with solutions gives kids the tools that they need so that they do not feel like they have to be defiant in order for their emotions to be heard and their needs to be met. This is the best way for parents to turn their child’s defiance into cooperation.