Meet your child's defiance with calm limits.

How to Talk to a Defiant Child

by Kathryn Hatter

A defiant child may demand supreme parenting skills as you strive to maintain composure and respect with your child. Parenting your child may push your buttons and raise your blood pressure regularly. The crux of your child's defiance often demands a special reconnection, however, to help him overcome his unhappiness, advises psychologist Jeffrey Bernstein, with the Psychology Today website. When you talk to your defiant child, you can use this opportunity to communicate things your child needs to feel and hear.

Talk to your defiant child respectfully, modeling the way you want your child to speak to others, recommends clinical psychologist Douglas Riley. Although your child may yell, scream, swear and call names, resist the urge to follow your child’s example and set a positive example of dignity and respect instead.

Show love and affection to your child as often as possible and whenever he will receive your affection. Demonstrate your love with words and with actions. Simple and regular declarations of love are effective, as are frequent hugs and kisses.

Tell your child that you won’t argue about issues when they arise, to avoid confrontations with him, advises social worker James Lehman, with the Empowering Parents website. Defiant children may instigate or provoke confrontations and arguments as they seek power in the relationship, warns Lehman. If you take part in every confrontation, you increase your child’s power. Your retort before leaving the room may be, “I already gave you my answer and I’m not going to discuss this with you anymore.”

Give your child choices whenever possible to provide him with some of the control he seeks, recommends parent educator Adina Soclof, with the Parenting Simply website. Instead of just telling your child “no,” give your child options for something he can do or have instead. You might say, “No, we’re not going outside right now. But would you rather build a train track or work on a block tower indoors? I’ll help you.”

Listen actively to your child when she talks, suggests Bernstein. Maintain eye contact, focus fully on your child, resist interrupting and reiterate what your child said after she finishes talking to make sure you understood. Avoid criticizing your child to keep her communicating with you.

Maintain consistent limits and expectations with your child. Although your child may try to push and prod you to give in to his wants and demands, remain firm to keep limits intact. As you remain firm without giving in, your child should begin to realize that you will not change your mind. You might say, “My ‘no’ means ‘no,’ Zachary. Stop pushing because I will not change my mind.”

About the Author

Kathryn Hatter is a veteran home-school educator, as well as an accomplished gardener, quilter, crocheter, cook, decorator and digital graphics creator. As a regular contributor to Natural News, many of Hatter's Internet publications focus on natural health and parenting. Hatter has also had publication on home improvement websites such as Redbeacon.

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