We have all fallen victim to erroneous thinking. Sometimes we use it on purpose to make ourselves feel better about making a bad choice. Well, defiant children know how to use them to. However, if the errors in thinking are not challenged, the pattern can be detrimental later in life.
Children don’t see things the same way that parents do. Without the benefit of years of experience, they act on emotion and instinct. In particular, defiant children want what they want and don’t mind using negative tactics to get it from parents. It is all about them. Instead of evaluating a situation to see all sides, they only consider how they feel. Children with mental disorders like Oppositional Defiant Disorder can get caught in a bad cycle. They start acting on these thinking errors and things spiral out of control from there. As long as you feed into their way of thinking with your behavior or responses, they will continue to manipulate, yell, scream, and terrorize others. The solution is to get help.
Thinking Errors Defiant Children Use
All of us have experienced erroneous thinking. Sometimes we use it on purpose to make ourselves feel better after making a wrong choice. However, one habit of defiant children is using such thinking errors as excuses or reasons for their desires or behaviors. As parents and parenting coaches, our role would be to challenge the error-prone thinking, lest it becomes habitual.
The Mind of a Child
Children and parents don’t often see eye-to-eye. Children act on instinct and emotion. Parents respond from their years of experience. Children want what they want, and defiant kids and may use negative tactics to get what they want from you. Defiant children are absorbed in their needs. They are capable of knowing only how they feel at that moment, and they don’t evaluate a situation to see all sides. They haven’t matured to that point yet. Children, diagnosed with a mental health issue, can get caught in a negative cycle. They start acting on these thinking errors, and a situation can quickly spiral out of control. If you feed into the thinking errors, then you also get caught up in their behavior. They could continue manipulation through yelling and screaming.They could terrorize everyone around them. The solution is to get help.
Parents Know These Four Thinking Errors
- The road to healing could be long; the first step is to understand your children.
- The second phase is to know how they think.
- The third step is to observe and understand how they get their way.
Injustice stance: This is the thought that the entire world is against the defiant child. When things don’t go their way, then nothing is fair, and they shouldn’ have to comply. This thinking translates into this kind of logic in your child’s head: “School sucks. Therefore, I don’t have to go.” A defiant child can also be passive-aggressive. If not heard, then moving too slowly in the morning means they get their way and stay home from school.
Pride in Negativity Stance: Defiant kids can convince themselves that they know more than their parents. Defiant kids are perfect for making their point in statements of which their parents aren’t aware. They could say a lot of hurtful words. They learned how to steal something, or how to take drugs, or how to play mature video games they shouldn’t be watching. Telling you that they don’t know what you are talking about is to make you feel stupid, or to feel hurt that they have one up on you.
Dishonesty Stance: Kids do lie and will continue if parents don’t catch them in the act and deal with the situation immediately. Any delay would be considered a victory scored by the defiant child. Defiant kids use lying, telling half-truths, and keeping secrets to deny that their bad behavior.
Victim Stance: As the last victim, a rebellious child blames someone else for what happens to them or for what they do. Even if they are the aggressor, the “other” person ís at fault always for what they had to say or what they did to victimize the defiant child. Recognize the methods that rebellious kids use to justify their behavior. Teach them and help them to change their way of thinking.
Stubborn children test your patience and parenting skills to the limit on a regular basis. Is this just part of raising children? All children go through at least two stages of being stubborn. Stage one is the “terrible twos,” when they learn to say “no” and then learn “yes.” The teen years is also when they say “no” as they practice making mature choices.
If a doctor has diagnosed your child as having ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder), you will encounter similar issues. Differences between the two diagnoses relate to the frequency and the severity due to the cause of the defiant behavior.
To understand the child’s problems and being able to develop suitable plans and consequences are the first steps for parents. Whether your child experiences the stubborn stages, dealing with ODD, or has another major issue, address the problem early. In fact, at the first sign of rebellious behavior, teach and modeling acceptable ways to react and respond.
Next is an example of a conversation between a stepmother, whose 12-year-old stepson came to live with his dad, the new stepmom, and and younger sister.
- Stepmother: Can I help you get settled into your room?
- Stepson: You’re not my mother, and you never will be.
- Stepmother: You are right. I am not your mother, I am your dad’s wife, your stepmother. I asked if I could help you get settled.
- Stepson: You’re a liar. You don’t want to help. By the way, I do my own laundry and I cook my own food.
- Stepmother: All right, let’s back this conversation to the beginning. If you are going to live here, we have some rules about respect. We show respect in our action and words. You don’t get to call me a liar, and I don’t get to call you a liar. Can you live with that rule?
This stepmom felt that this boy was begging for some attention, for some rules. He wanted to know if he was welcome in their home. Several weeks passed before the stepson settled into accepting that he was in a new home with people who would love him, but also not let him fall into his defensive anger.
Strategies To Help You Handle Stubbornness
The first approach is asking why a child behaves the way he or she does? Understand that you, as the parent, can best understand explosive behavior as a form of developmental delay. Dr. Ross Green, the author of The Explosive Child, suggests that the following questions will help parents see more clearly the crux of the problem.
- This child acts this way because…
- How come what works for other kids isn’t working for this child?
- What can I do instead?
- Build a sound basis. Parents start teaching expected life skills at the earliest ages.
- Clarify perceptions through answers to the more common questions.
- Focus on the present: What is happening right now?
- What is the BIG major issue?
- Distinguish between needs and wants.Which needs or wants can be prioritized?
- List your options.
- Hold yourself accountable.
- The problem is…use your best descriptions.
- Brainstorm. Write down your best ideas that might help solve the problem.
- Consider the pros and cons of each possible solution.
- Which of the possible solutions seems likely to work?
- Plan out the solution step-by-step: What? When? How?
Refuse to bargain: Kids use bargaining to make several points: get out of chores, make a break or cut a deal. Children learn to accept the consequences of their choices and behaviors.
Reinforce the positive: Reward their positive behaviors. Point out when your child completes a job and has done it well. Support and praise a thoughtful decision. The power of positively deserved praise cannot be under-rated.
Traditionally, many school-aged children love school and look forward to start of a new school year. But for other children, it’s also a time of great stress. In fact, stress—those overwhelming feelings of doubt about ourselves or our ability to handle things—is as common in children as adults. The greatest challenge to parents today is teaching children to manage stress effectively. Children may react to excess stress with behavior that seems immature, inappropriate, or even disturbing. One child exhibits anxiety and tears the night before going back to school. Another child speaks of new teacher and asks her parents questions while trying to imagine the teacher’s personality. Another child enjoys shopping for school clothes and looks forward to seeing new friends. Stress can be terrifying to children who lack the emotional maturity or experience to understand and deal with it. The challenge for parents, teachers, and other caretakers include how to recognize signs of stress in children of different ages, how to know when stress threatens to overwhelm a child, and what to do about it. In Nurture Your Child’s Gift, I offer excellent suggestions to help parents cope with their children’s stress. A stressed-out condition can result from a specific cause or from life in general. Here are some examples:
- At 17, Jen was a high school senior expecting to graduate with honors in the Spring. Just before Christmas, however, Jen’s father lost his job and the family had to move into the basement of a cousin’s house. Jen soon developed a severe allergy, then asthma. The illness cost her so much time from school that she required home-schooling to make up the difference.
- Mark was only two when his parents divorced. Confused, Mark wandered the house, calling plaintively for his father, but weekends with Dad made him cry. Most weekends, Mark developed upset stomachs that were so bad he’d miss preschool on Mondays.
Toddlers need to feel safe and comfortable. Stress for preschool children can arise from a new face at home or at day care, the disappearance of a familiar face, visiting lots of new places at once, or abrupt changes in the family’s structure, relationships or daily routine. During the grade-school years, children become concerned with pleasing people like teachers, parents, guardians and coaches. School life—even a change in assigned seating or having to take a test—brings higher levels of stress every year. And when it comes to peers, even the threat of diminished acceptance is terrifying. Sleep-overs, birthday parties, sporting events and music competitions can trigger stressful reactions. Through middle school and beyond, the pressures kids feel from parents, teachers, peers, society at large, and from within increases. Children have to learn adapt to these pressures. Because they have grown in their intelligence, curiosity and knowledge of community, demands for their attention, time, energy and effort can often feel like a tug of war. As in the cases of Mark and Jen, it is not unusual for life-altering events to express themselves in illness. At the University of Missouri, for instance, researcher Mark Flinn found that a child’s risk of upper-respiratory infection increases by 200 percent for the seven days following a high-stress event. And parents like Miranda’s might confuse what they believe are normal behavior with an expression of anxiety. Children often display their tensions in small acts that have aggressive undertones.
How You Can Help
- There are many ways parents can help their children deal with stress and stressful situations.
- Don’t try to fix everything for the child, and avoid offering advice. Sometimes just listening so that your child feels truly heard may be enough to relieve the stress.
- As you listen, ask questions that encourage your child to think a situation through. “What’s the next step?” or “How would you handle that?” are good questions. Ask a lot of “what-if” questions, too.
- Help children listen to themselves. Nurture Your Child’s Gift suggests quiet-time techniques for children to listen to nature sounds like rain or waves upon the beach, to their own heartbeat, or to recordings of whales, dolphins or birds.
- Encourage children to spend time listening to their thoughts. When they feel free to speak their own thoughts aloud about a situation, things suddenly become clear.
- Nurture Your Child’s Gift details a diaphragmatic breathing exercise for kids and parents. Shallow breathing is associated with the production of cortisol, the stress hormone. Deeper, effective breathing produces feelings of relaxation and calm.
- Use soothing and rhythmic music, even simple drumming, to help your child relieve muscle tension. It works!
- Don’t overlook exercise for releasing stress and tension. It works for your child just as it does for you. Have children walk the dog, get on the treadmill or stretch through easy yoga movements for children. Any movement they enjoy will help ease stress away.
- Parents can do much to alleviate stress in their children’s lives. Effectively dealing with your own stress is the first step. Showing your kids how to release their stress comes next.
Copyright © Caron B. Goode.
Good communication is a key to understanding your child better. Togther, parenting coaches and parents review the steps to maintaining a harmonious relationship that keeps the parent-child relationship healthier and flourishing.
Firstly, be genuinely familiar with your child’s language especially during times of conflicts and confrontations. Familiarize yourself with your child’s words, the tone of voice, and emotional responsivity. Does the chid’s speech tone suggest a specific emotion like anxiety, shyness, fear, or the need to dominate or be shy? Secondly, learn how to accept the full range of your child’s emotionality.
- How do you take the chid’s overall behavior?
- Can you receive the emotions and feelings of your child?
- As you succeed in understanding his feelings, you are better able to guide him to express his unpleasant and unlikely feelings appropriately.
- Encourage a child’s real feelings in conversation. Suppression of emotions and feelings are not healthy.
Understanding a child
Thirdly, I have observed that not each parent shows a speaking child the courtesy of attention. Interrupting, bombarding the child with questions, or flinging anger and accusation signals that the child maintains her distance. Explain and make him realize that interrupting any speaker is considered rude by some adults.. This is also a way of instilling him some part of good values. Fourthly, always be approachable. As much as possible, help your child know that she can approach you and not to hesitate to discuss any problem or requests. If the child realizes that open communication between him and you is always possible, imagine how much respect your child has for you! Fifthly, ask questions so you gather further information, but not in an interrogating manner. Try to ask questions that solicit honest and direct answers from your child. How do you act and speak to your child, so that she feels confident with you. Lastly, provide useful, helpful and assuring responses to your child’s questions. Apply the principles of reflective listening. This way, you could have a clear and actual grasp of what it is your child is trying to tell you. Reflect on his words and the manner by which he talks. Understanding your child entails setting a good pattern of open communication between you both.
One sensitive issue parents contend with is their child’s temperament. Understanding children’s inborn traits is a key to better parenting and happier children, especially in the development years.
Before my daughter was born, I imagined her to be a specific type of a good-natured child. As she grew up, I realized my always viewing her as good-natured was a pre-conceived idea I had. Her childhood moods meandered through creative, sensitive, emotional, and even defiant in the early teen years. And she was good natured about most events in her life.
Understanding her temperament enabled me not to blame my self for her situations. Instead, I learned strategies to deal with difficult circumstances or conditions. One point of discipline I followed was to diffuse challenging situation so as not to escalate into major conflicts that might cause harm.
Temperament information helps you see how your child learns, responds, reacts, and behaves. Through the earlier years of development, you see reactions begin to form into a pattern of values, needs, and fears:
+++++ One child needs closeness, touch, and assurance from parents.Thus, he values following his parents, climbing in their laps and being cuddled or held.
His fear of not having the needs met, or when his needs are not met, he feels, hurt, lost, or angry.
+++++ Another youngster values being by herself–independence.
She plays with her dolls and likes doing so by herself.
Her need to learn through trial an error means that she pushes parents away sometimes with the familiar, “I can do it.”
+++++ Children, who readily and quickly shift, show adaptive temperaments. They learn more by doing and practicing.
+++++ Children, who have slower-to-warm temperaments, learn by watching and rehearsing internally.
+++++ Children’s challenging temperaments cause us to regroup:
- Ask what is the child going through?
- Is this a temperament trait or learned behavior that needs to change?
- Are the child’s needs being met?
- Are fears causing issues?
- Has the child’s value been diminished in any way?
This child views the world through optimistic eyes, adapts quickly and maintains positivity well. He is a natural learner, eats and sleeps regularly (has no trouble sleeping), is pleasant and cheerful, and displays a low-intensity mood.
Because this child feels deeply in certain situations, he has few significant emotional outbursts. This type comprises about 40% of all people.
The Feisty/Difficult/Spirited group of children comprises about 10% of the population. This grouping is the opposite of the flexible children. Feisty children are slow to adapt to the routines: napping, eating, homework, quiet time. Moreover, bowel movements are not regular. The spirited child has preferences for parents to discover and manage. On the hand, the child shows his mastery for specific tasks.
The feisty child has tantrums, is fussy, and can be unpleasant in disagreements. With high energy, this child explores with intensity and can get into mischief, On the other hand, he or she is bursting with energy and explores the surrounding and people intensely.
The third general temperament type is aptly called Slow-To-Warm, and 15% of the population belongs to this category. Slow to warm types are shy or highly-sensitive persons (which they sometimes are. They watch their world and usually observe on the outside of things before joining. Their internal clock is disrupted easily and shows up in irregular sleeping, feeding and other personal habits. This child seems to be always enjoying things or doing them at his own sweet pace.
The rest of the 35% of the population are combinations of several temperaments. They exhibit traits of all three temperament types and cannot be categorized into a single trait pattern. The feature they share is that they have characteristics of all three temperaments.
In all these temperament types, you will also find yours. Understanding children and their temperaments include understanding your own. Doing so will open your eyes to the many areas where you can connect to that of your children, or whether you are compatible with each other or not.
Parenting the whole child implies that we honor our children’s wholeness while we dissect and discuss the parts of the whole—physical body, mind, emotions and spirit. It may indeed be paradoxical, but it’s our way of understanding how the parts contribute to the whole and our job if we work with parents, families, and children.
We consider our children’s wholeness when we:
- Bear in mind the emotional and mental factors that contribute to strep throat.
- Look to a biochemical problem associated with a child’s temper
- Consider the negative self-talk and thoughts that can float around in the head of a depressed teen.
- Regard childhood patterns from a holistic perspective. These can include a child who falls down all the time, one who has allergies, one who is shy and sensitive, one who doesn’t want to be touched, and so on. We want to help, but do we help their biochemistry, their behavior or their spirit?
- Think about how children spend their time, and if their activities are balanced between stimulation and quiet.
Bundles of Energy
The foundation of whole-child parenting is understanding that our children are bundles of energy in the form of thoughts, physical activity, emotional expression and spirit. Rather than thinking about managing our children, think about managing their energy.
The energy of the body needs food, touch, air and water. The energy of the emotions needs positive input like optimism, smiles and support. The energy of thought needs inspiration and imagination, or it gets bored. The energy of the spirit needs connection, faith, compassion and quiet. It needs calm moments of awareness.
Most of us know these things and have our own intuitive ways of mothering and fathering our children. In fact, the joy of parenting the whole child is discovering how much you already know and do. The ease of whole-child parenting is that when one avenue doesn’t work, there is always another way. For example, because we know that the nature of emotional energy can be chaotic, we can find several ways to structure and channel positive emotional energy with our child. We might follow schedules, share meals, read books or see a heart-warming movie.
A Soul Living in a Child’s Body
Thinking of a child as an “energy bundle” helps us take our parenting less personally when a child screams, “I hate you.” What we want to take to heart is that this soul is living with us in a child’s body. We are responsible for helping this child to develop in the best, most fulfilling way possible.
Parenting is really about educating the mind and body so our children are happy, successful and healthy in body and soul. Working with the mind-body connection is the foundation for parenting the whole child.
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See also Coaching Whole-Parent and Whole Child 1 and Coaching Whole-Parent and Whole Child 2
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