How Do You Handle a Defiant Child?

I’ve often struggled to find strategies for dealing with a disobedient child. Why? Well, for starters my kids approach to me has turned out to be just plain different than mine was to my own parents. I don’t think I ever talked back to my parents. If they asked me to do something, I did it. If they disciplined me, I accepted the punishment. They loved us and cared for us but their lives did not revolve around us. They were the parents, we the kids. The hierarchy was clear.

For better or worse – and often it feels like worse – my kids see my husband and me differently, more as equals, less as an authority figure. They’ll even dare to say a big fat “NO” when we ask them to do things.

Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t happen all the time. But it does happen. Not every day and not with every kid, but more than either Marc or I find to be acceptable.

How to Handle a Defiant Child Without Losing Your Patience

There is nothing trickier than dealing with difficult child behavior. When children don’t do as we ask, we fell out of control, lost, and powerless. This feeling of not being able to influence what happens — and our own lack of authority – easily feeds hot tempers. Add to this the fact that as parents, we work so hard to give our children fulfilling lives, and our tempers can rage even hotter in the wake of the realization that our children don’t appreciate all we do, the sacrifices we make.
In today’s video, I discuss the issue of disobedient kids while focusing on how we parents can keep our cool. One strategy I once heard of, which was developed by Julie Ross of Parenting Horizons, involves what Julie calls this “I Message.” When a child has engaged in disrespectful behavior, Julie believes in explaining to the child how his behavior impacts others.  So imagine, for example, a child who is screaming because she is angry. In this situation, you would say “When you scream, I feel frustrated because we cannot have a logical conversation and we cannot resolve anything.” If the child persists in screaming, you then repeat the “I Message” and add a consequence. It’s a pretty good technique and one that I have employed many times.
Another trick I’ve heard of is to sit down and drink ten glasses of water. You likely won’t get to the tenth glass, more likely to the third or fourth, but by the time you are done drinking you will have calmed down.
And then there’s exiting the situation entirely … I’ve done this too.
For more thoughts on how to keep your temper in check with handling a disobedient child, check out my video. Thanks so much for watching, and weigh in with what works for you below.