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Defiant behavior in children can be a tough nut to crack.
Excellent questions and just asking them shows you are concerned and
caring, two qualities your defiant child needs you to have in
- How much defiant behavior in children is normal?
- Do you ignore the defiance and hope it goes away?
- Who do you listen to when it comes to helping your defiant
Let's address these questions about defiant children one at a
time, starting with...
1. How much defiant behavior is normal in children?
All kids exhibit some signs of defiant behavior. From the time a child
is a toddler, he is learning how to influence his environment, usually
with the aim of getting what he wants - now!
This is normal behavior and these children usually respond well to
constructive parental guidance in many forms. In truth, there are many common behavioral problems in children.
But our defiant child gets a little stuck at this point. There are a
lot of possible reasons for this and there is still much discussion
over what causes excessive defiant behavior in children. However
there is no discussion over the fact that a regularly defiant child
needs help. He is often miserable, as is his family.
Take a look at the intensity and consistency of your child's defiant
behavior. Is it...
- a day in and day out challenge to get along with your child?
- Does your child seem to go out of her way to be uncooperative
with family members or peers?
- Due to the defiant behavior, are you finding it more and more
difficult to enjoy being with your child?
- Has your child's defiant behavior escalated over time?
Now, this is not a diagnosis, so be careful here. These are simply some
questions for you to start with as you evaluate your child's behavior.
By all means, if you need to, get a professional diagnosis! Defiant
behavior and argumentative
children should be taken seriously.
2. Do you ignore defiant children and hope the problem goes away?
In a word, NO!
Any kind of defiance needs an immediate parental response. As mentioned
before, all children exhibit defiant behavior from time to time,
usually as a means of testing boundaries and sometimes simply as a
consequence of being tired!
By responding firmly and quickly to these occasional outbursts of
defiance, your child knows exactly what and where the boundaries are in
Truly defiant children don't respond as quickly or easily to
these boundary messages. It's pretty clear they can get
overwhelmed with stimulation easily and use their stick of defiance as
a control measure. The trouble is, this is not a helpful coping
Our jobs, as parents of these often creative and intense children, is
to help them see themselves and the world in more accurate ways and
then practice problem solving skills that actually work (since defiance
doesn't solve problems, instead it creates more.)
3. Who do you listen to when it comes to helping your defiant
Only you, as your child's parent, can fully answer this question.
However, some guidelines can help you as you are searching for answers.
- Trust your parenting instincts.
You know your child better than anyone. Make sure that whatever help
you get aligns with your personal values. For example, if you are a
person of faith, look for support that also honors a life of faith.
- Look for help that has a proven track record.
Whether it's self-help material, counseling or even structured live-in
programs for defiant children, ask to see testimonials or proven
results of some type so that you know this methodology actually has a
chance of helping you and your child.
That being said, I have found that measuring success by aiming
for some level of improvement is wiser than demanding
perfection, which often is impossible.
- Always keep the end in sight.
When defiant behavior in children gets out of hand, it is tempting to
look only at quick fixes. Remember your goal in parenting a defiant
child - or any other child - is to help her develop into a mature,
Keeping this in mind will help you make level-headed decisions, even in
the heat of emotional moments.
Remember, when dealing with defiant children, you need support.
Arm yourself with excellent parenting resources. As I mentioned above,
here is a great article to get started. Why the Word 'No' Sets off an Oppositional, Defiant
If you want to know what parenting program I can recommend that helps
parents with struggling kids, that would be The Total Transformation program, hands down. Part
of why this program works is because it supports parents extremely
Mom or Dad, you can do this! I have complete faith in your ability to
do what's right for your precious child.
More parenting articles for you.
Colleen Langenfeld is a mother with over 29 years of parenting experience and helps other busy moms around the globe at www.paintedgold.com.
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