The Defiant Child

by Michele
(Illinois, USA)

The Defiant Child and Choices that Backfire

We've had a number of behavioral issues with my eight-year-old son. We've tried some successful behavioral strategies and some not-so-successful ones.

My question is specific to defiance: frequently, my son refuses to do what he's told.

While I understand that this in itself is not unusual, we've had real trouble responding to it. Standard parenting advice says to offer choices, but my son uses the options as an opportunity to pick a fight.

For instance, if offered the choices of cereal or oatmeal for breakfast he will ask for eggs and throw a tantrum when he's told it isn't an option.

Our only rules about clothing are that he wear long sleeves and long pants in winter (or the opposite in summer) and that he not dress entirely in black or navy blue, otherwise he can choose whatever he wants - but he frequently chooses to break the rules and tantrums when we ask him to change. He will ask for certain foods or to go out to eat after I've begun preparing dinner and can't acommodate him, and then will throw a tantrum.

The more I allow him to make choices the further he pushes the boundaries - I feel if I offered him unlimited choices, he'd respond by finding something impossible just to throw the tantrum.

He clearly understands the rules - it's not a communication issue. I don't know what to do - should I stop offering choices and make all his decisions for him? I can't give in all the time - how do I stop these tantrums?

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Oct 14, 2015
Funny how a necropost brings things to light NEW
by: Anonymous

So, it turns out my son didn't need corporal punishment or a behavioral program - he needed help. Professional help.

It turns out, my son had undiagnosed full-blown autism. He had just enough skills to fly under the radar, but not enough for daily communication and living. He was not defiant, but confused, frustrated, and UNABLE to do the things we asked.

If anyone finds this post, reads it, and it resonates with you, I urge you to find a pediatric developmental center and ask them to do a full diagnostic screening.

Autism is tricky to find and can be difficult to treat - you cannot use regular parenting techniques (like offering two choices.) I will say that with professional support and in particular pragmatic speech therapy, my son is now thriving.

"Behavioral issue" is code for "we don't know how to handle this." Beware of professionals who give this label without a specific explanation for it that doesn't lay blame with either the parent or the child. No child WANTS to misbehave - your job as a parent is to find out why they can't behave.

Oct 14, 2015
Nice NEW
by: Anonymous

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Feb 06, 2009
by: Anonymous

It seems that most people are caught up in the non-spanking mentality, deeming that as a form of punishment, and thus does damage to the spirit of the child. Well, this is true when administered in excess.

However, when administered in the right doses, it is a form of discipline to correct faulty behavioral problems. All the psychology in the world simply fail to correct all problems with children. Sometimes a parent simply has to decide to use a tool they may not like, or that is 'politically incorrect'.

Some children respond to psychological manipulations, others do not. Only you will see the true measure of what works. Even Dobson himself has admitted that sometimes corporal discipline is necessary.

Don't be afraid to take that course if all else fails. That way, you're avoiding the accusation of being cruel to your child.

YOU are the parent. If he doesn't respect that now, then it will only get worse as he grows older.

Feb 02, 2009
The Defiant Child
by: Laura Ramirez

The defiant child does not seem to understand that his parents are in charge. This is why he bucks up against authority at every turn. You need to establish your parental authority in a way that is not punitive and encourages your child to do well as he strives for independence.

This can be quite tricky, especially when you don't understand the cause of your child's behavior. For instance, why would the choice between cereal and oatmeal cause a tantrum? Perhaps because your child doesn't see this as a choice...after all cereal and oatmeal are BOTH cereal.

Since this may not be a typical example of his acting out or the choices you give him, understand that in other cases, your child may be frustrated by his inability to make a choice at all. Couple this with a low tolerance for frustration and you have a tantrum.

Understand that while your child's behavior is not your fault, you do need to help him get a handle on it for the sake of his well-being and your sanity.

Although you have tried behavioral techniques in the past, I recommend you get a copy of this behavioral program which was specifically designed for kids who are mouthy, disrespectful, oppositional and defiant.

The program will teach you what you need to learn to stop the tantrums and defiance and create an environment in which your child can feel safe and be successful.

Although my two boys (12 and 15) are not defiant, they have occasionally had their moments and how you deal with it makes all the difference in the world. I have gone through the program and think the techniques and perspective you will gain will be invaluable in helping to turn around your son's behavior.

I know that child defiance can be exhausting, confusing and overwhelming, but the time to take action is now. Defiance is NOT just a phase. In fact, left unchecked, it will worsen and can develop into a full blown psychological disorder. Your son is eight. Take care of this now, so one day, you don't have to deal with a defiant teen who is bigger and stronger than you.

Please write back and tell us how you and your son are doing.

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