How to Parent a Defiant Child – top tips
Learning how to parent a defiant child positively will help you and your child tremendously. You may have grown used to this behaviour, but you don’t have to continue with the fight. Having a defiant child who constantly says “NO!” or is always putting up a battle can be a struggle but here are some steps to help you navigate your way through with LOVE
Steps to Navigate your Child’s defiance
Trying to understand your child and meet them where they are art are the keys to navigating how to parent a defiant child. Here are a few prompts to help you put this into action.
- Eye contact: Make sure you are coming to their level. It’s easy to get upset when a child doesn’t listen, but when you are barking orders at their backs, they tend not to listen even more. This is a simple, yet effective, way to communicate with your child. When creating eye contact with your child, they will begin to respect you. They will more than likely start to take you seriously, and they will feel heard. Using your child’s name can also help them feel connected to you and will, absolutely, let them know you are talking to them!
- Consider why they refuse: Can you imagine being ordered around by a drill sergeant all day? For kids, sometimes, that’s how it can feel. “Wear this, pick up that, brush your teeth,” it can be overwhelming. While I’m not saying kids don’t need structure and reminders, just try and do it in a calmer manner. Kids don’t run the show, parents do! and that can be hard for strong-willed kids wh like to feel in control as much as possible.
- Understanding their intentions: Kids aren’t always intentionally testing a plot against you. For example, they may be colouring, while you want them to be eating, then begin crying or throwing a tantrum when you correct them on it. Try asking your child why they are upset, instead of scolding right away. Sometimes it will be bottled up stuff from earlier, from school perhaps and it is just bursting out. Try and get to the bottom of what is really going with a hefty dose of TLC if it is required.
- Talk to yourself: ( I do this one all the time!) The best way to keep yourself cool, calm, and collected is to give yourself a pep-talk. Remind yourself, “Don’t take it personally.” When you ask your child to do something and they yell, “I don’t want to!” the first thought that comes to your head is, “I don’t care, you’re gonna do it!” You can walk away, take a deep breath, and give yourself a talking to. Once you have calmed down, you can try to take a different approach. Usually, a much better approach too.
- Consistent consequences: Being consistent with your child creates a learning experience for them. This will also be very beneficial when learning how to respond to a defiant child. It forms limits where there weren’t any before. When you don’t stick to your word, it shows empty claims. It will then be a game, and they will lose trust in you. For example, we have zero tolerance to aggression in our home. No matter what the reason aggression will always lead to a screen ban of 24 hours whether verbal or physical. This zero tolerance has bidden us well over the years and my kids have not pushed /shove each other in years!
- Take notice of their feelings: Maybe you have daily battles with the same thing, for instance picking up toys? They love getting all their toys out and then leaving them strung across the house. Try narrating “ You really don’t want to pick up these toys once you get them all out.” It will cause both of you to pause and stop something before it happens. Presenting the problem in a calmer tone and manner, helps your child to feel seen. In our house, it is that clothes pile on their bedroom floor that does my head in I now have a rule it has to be picked up before dinner and I come to check. I really cannot understand how hard it is to put dirty clothes in the laundry basket 3 feet away!
- Pick your battles: You can either start barking orders at your child first sign of misbehaviour or you can ignore mistakes altogether. Children need to be corrected, or else they will not know they have done something wrong. You may ignore because you don’t want the child to unleash their anger, but it’s important to take notice of a mistake. Its not smart to ignore as it will simply persist and actually part of your role int heir life is to be their guide (far more than it is to be their friend) But yes do pick your battles, Ask yourself if the topic is something that truly matters, if it doesn’t, let it go. Matters such as saying bad words, and hitting others, must be corrected. But behaviours like not wanting to wear a certain pair of shoes can be overlooked.
- Choices: Giving kids different options makes them feel like they have a voice. and it makes them feel more powerful and in control and both things are so important to a strong-willed kid, This also reduces conflict, shows that you value their opinions, and helps develop critical thinking skills. For example, “Would you like to take a nap, before or after we play outside?” This allows them to feel like they made the choice and it will make taking a nap a smoother process. A simple semantics trick but one that will often work
Final thoughts on how to parent a defiant kid
Raising a strong-willed child is hard for both parties. Learning how to parent a defiant child with love and positivity will benefit them and develop a stronger relationship betweent he 2 of you . This won’t be an overnight change, but it will be worth it!