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A lot of my own frustration with my defiant child stems from a lack of control in the moment. Realizing that my child is acting from a similar feeling of lack of control, just one that spans pretty much every aspect of her life , keeps me from getting agitated and lets me start looking for solutions. A simple way to give your kids some control is by giving them as many choices as you can — particularly over the little things. Do they want it in cup or a glass? Do they want to sit at the table or the kitchen bench?

In fact, you can give choices to your child and still ensure you get what you want. To make this work for both of you, be sure to give just two options. Besides giving kids back some control, asking lots of questions has some sneaky benefits as well. No, seriously. Psychologists call this decision fatigue. Imagine walking into your house and seeing one of your friends violating a house rule. They should know better! But if we take a step back, and start treating our kids a little like adults, it can be powerful.

Kids who exhibit defiant behavior push us. They argue. The adult.

The experienced person in this relationship. They should listen to us. They should uphold our authority instead of undermining it so often. Right from a very early age they know exactly what buttons to push to get us cranky and frustrated and twisted up inside. And sent them an implicit signal that if they push us just enough, they can get what they want.

So what could we have done instead? Not as the fine parent that you are!!!

Child Development by Age

Recognize that ultimatums are a recipe for a lose-lose outcome. So when you feel your blood starting to boil, walk away. Make like Elvis and leave the room. Sit down and set clear limits. Explain and get agreement on exactly what will happen if a limit is violated. And the next time the situation repeats, calmly, firmly and empathetically impose the consequences for violating the limits. You started watching TV before doing homework. Let them vent if they want to. The key is to stay calm, firm and empathetic.

Anger, Aggression, and Defiance in Children- Anger Management Techniques

I know you are disappointed. I am a bit disappointed too… I was hoping to finish up some of my chores while you were watching TV. But I can do my chores later and read a little for you instead. How about that? I know you are still learning to be a responsible. But which one do you prefer — a little work upfront or constant nagging , whining and drama for the next however many years until they go to college and never want to come back home again?

Peaceful Parenting for a Hectic World

They rebel against this sort of micro-management. Instead of giving them chores, give them problems to solve. Give them the stage to showcase their positive attributes. Is there a super helper around who can help me? So Mr. Genius, how are you going to solve that problem? How are you going to fit it all in?

This strategy works just as well for kids who tend to be defiant too. She lashes out and hurts people with seemingly no motivation. The solution is for me to see past her behavior and feel her hurt, and address her pain. It works every time. Side note: If you ever feel this way yourself, and we all do from time to time, before you reach for that tub of ice cream in the freezer, watch this video.

Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings

Or at least watch the video while you shovel down that tub of ice cream. It helps me find my balance every single time. Raising a child who is defiant is not easy. They can be more challenging, confrontational and disobedient than their peers. We need to ensure they feel loved and valued.


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  • why is my six-year-old so mean?;

That we ask for their opinion and give them some control over their lives. Cate is on a mission to help parents stop yelling and create families that listen to each other. She does this while imperfectly parenting two boisterous girls of her own, and learning from her mistakes. I just had this experience with our 3 year, come downstairs open my mailbox and there is your article.

My wife monitors how much and what our 3 year old tends to eat. Today it was just Sophie and I left at the table as my wife was nearby with the 1 year old.

why is my six-year-old so mean?

Sophie, having not eaten half of her meal says she is full and wants to leave the table. In retrospect it would have been skilful to just let her go.

So I went into reactive mode and enforced the boundary. You stay in this chair until you have done what I have asked ie check in with your Mum. Why is a good question at this point? I guess I felt my authority was being undermined. I had lost control? Anyway the result was a Mexican stand off. She put on the tears as I cleaned up. I asked her if she wanted to stay in the chair.

Defiance is a relationship problem, not a discipline problem.

I said well all you need to do is ask your Mum. She starts crying again. For my part the longer it went the more I had to maintain that boundary. Finally 15 minutes later my wife, who has been in view the whole time letting the drama play out, walks over to Sophie and says is there anything you wish to ask me.

Sophie asks and then she leaves the table. We give her plenty of choices in a day but sometimes if a parent needs or requests something from the child then surely there must be some compliance… what is the alternative.. I would be interested in your thoughts. Geoff, a dad who wishes to do better p.

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I think the fact that that this episode bothered you enough that you took the time to leave this comment and are looking for better ways to deal with it next time tells me you are an awesome dad! And kudos to your wife for being patient and letting this play out. You two seem like you make a great team!!! Alright, so brainstorming for ideas….