Home / Family Articles / Dealing with defiant children

Dealing with defiant children

Dealing with defiant children

Written by:

It’s a situation that all parents have been in. You ask your kids to do something, they dig their heels in pretty deeply and say no. For most kids this will generally be something that happens now and again but if it looks like it’s starting to become the norm then you’ll want to try and nip it in the bud.

Ask questions

Your child may have a perfectly good reason for not wanting to do something in particular so the first step should be to ask them why they’re not happy with it. You may see their point of view or be able to reach a compromise. Even if defiance is becoming a habit it’s still worth asking questions. There may be an underlying issue that is making your child act up in this way. You’ll only get to the bottom of it if you talk to each other.

Create consequences

Children need to know that their behaviour (good or bad) has consequences. It’s best to discuss these at a time when you’re both is calm so that everyone knows what is expected of them. There is no point in creating consequences unless you’re willing to see them through. If you’ve said something will happen if your child doesn’t behave well then you need to make sure you stick to your word.

Be consistent

Your child will get mixed messages if you punish her for something once then let her off with the same thing another time. It’s also important to treat all of your kids the same, though age appropriately, as kids have a keen sense of when they feel they’re being treated unfairly.

Stay calm

No matter whether you feel like crying or apologising to those around you, you need to let your child know that you are in control so take the lead and keep your cool. If you feel too upset or angry at your child’s actions then tell them that you’re unhappy with their behaviour and that you will speak to them about it later. Not only does this give you a chance to calm down and plan your response, it also allows the child some time to reflect on what they have (or haven’t) done.

Don’t bargain

Dealing with defiant childrenIn some situations, particularly if you’re in public, it can be tempting to make a bargain with your child for better behaviour. But promising an ice cream when you get home doesn’t send out the right message. Rather than making bad behaviour impossible you’re enabling it and it’s likely that your child will try to push things even further the next time.

Pick your battles

Sometimes the best way to deal with defiance is just to ignore it. If you suspect the reason behind the attitude has more to do with hunger or tiredness than bad behaviour for its own sake then it’s not really worth getting worked up about. Also, if your child refuses to put trainers on to go the park because she’d rather wear her wellies does it really matter? Childhood is short and some things just aren’t worth wasting energy on.



About Maria Brett

About Maria Brett

Maria is a freelance writer with over 10 years' experience producing content for a variety of publications and websites. When not working or looking after her two gorgeous sons, she can usually be found playing flugelhorn in a brass band, helping out at her local hospital radio station, shouting at the television while watching Formula 1, at the cinema or plonked on the couch with a cold glass of wine.

Website: Maria Brett

View all posts by