Problem Children - How to Turn Them Around and Get Them Back on Track
Problem children can be exasperating to parents. Disrespectful at every turn, but especially when they don't get what they want, they serve as negative role models for younger siblings and can drive a wedge between you and your spouse. When it seems like discipline doesn't work, what can frustrated parents do?
Before we talk about how to deal with defianr children, let's talk about the kids themselves. Although it may seem like these kids are in control, it's important to realize that these are unhappy kids. The reason they can lash out and be so defiant and disrespectful is that they lack a sense of connection with others and have little trust in authority figures. Often, these kids are very smart, especially in their ability to push their parents' buttons and work the system. But this intelligence can be directed in positive ways, especially after parents are able to help their kids escape the negative frame of mind that leads to this behavior.
Even though it is difficult to feel much compassion for problem children when they're acting out, it is crucial to get these kids help. The research on this is clear: kids with conduct disorder or who are chronically oppositional and defiant, often grow into teens who get into trouble with the law and become criminals as adults. The key is to prevent this from happening—to turn your kid around before it is too late. It's better to do this when your child is a still a kid, rather than waiting until he or she is a big, strong teenager who is moody and bursting with hormones. Of course, the problem is that most parents just don't know what to do.
When parents try to discipline defiant children, this often backfires. Tell a kid that he is grounded for two weeks or take away his video games and he will become that much more oppositional or will find a way to sneak his privileges while you're not around. Try to talk to this same kid about his behavior in a reasonable way and he or she will make promises that will be broken as soon as you turn your back. After all you've tried to do to change your kid, you have to wonder how well-meaning parents, like yourself, can end up with such problem kids. But don't worry because it's not your fault.
What you need to know is that the parenting techniques that your parents taught you will just not work with today's defiant kids. What you need instead is a systematic approach - a child behavior modification program that teaches you simple techniques that you can use right away to make an impact on problem children. Rather than being punitive, these strategies clearly define the limits to your child and actually inspire him to behave properly (and believe me, he already knows the right way to behave) to earn back his privileges.
The magical thing about such a system is that once you learn it and use it in your interactions with your child, you will start to see positive changes in your kid. The principles of such a system are based on behavioral science which all about making observable changes in behavior. This is a proven system that teaches your kid how to do his job (keep up with homework and do his part around the house) and treat others with respect. Once your child starts doing better and being more respectful, he will feel good and will want to behave better in the future.
That last sentence is key for defiant children. They WANT to behave better. As the frazzled, overwhelmed parent of an oppositional kid, you know that your child is not going to do anything that he doesn't want to do, which is why these programs work.
This is the key to changing problem children. It's the secret sauce that will help you turn around your kid. The trick is being open to learning and implementing skills that are different from those you've learned from your parents, skills that just don't work with today's problem children.
Laura Ramirez is helps families restore peace and order to their homes with a behavioral program that teaches parents simple skills for turning around defiant children.
She is also the award-winning author of the parenting book, Keepers of the Children: Native American Wisdom and Parenting which teaches parents how to raise kids to develop their strengths and lead fulfilling, productive lives.
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