The Defiant Child
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?