Defiant, 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." 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 have the understanding of the child's problems and being able to develop suitable plans and consequences are the first steps for parents.
Whether your child experiences the typical defiant stages, dealing with ODD, or has another major issue, address the problem early. In fact, at the first sign of rebellious behavior, model and teach your child 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, 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 Defiance
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 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. All 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.
4 Thinking Errors Defiant Children Use
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 their errors in thinking are not challenged, they hold onto them and this 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.