It’s always a rude awakening once your angelic baby turns defiant. His behavior can change in a snap, and the parents are left reeling after his first fierce and intentionally rebellious “no”. As this catches most parents off guard, chances are, parents find it hard to process the situation, and think of the best ways to deal with their little rebel. When his behavior stops being cute and causes you to suddenly see your child in a different light, it might be time to try other approaches to breaking through this frustrating parenting barrier.
Dragons always breathe fire, and if you act like one once your child stomps his feet and crosses his arms, or totally ignores your instructions, catastrophe will most likely be the second scenario. Take a few seconds to breathe calmly, and try not to fight their fire with fire too. Once you get a grip on your own emotions, then you know its also time to deal with theirs.
For adults, we sometimes choose not to address a negative situation right away in order to calm ourselves down. But for kids with short attention spans and fleeting memories, it might be best to not postpone the teaching moment. Chances are, they would have forgotten the incident already, and they might have seen your tolerance as a green light for such behavior. If you feel that it won’t be resolved right away, tell your child that you will still discuss it and deal with it later, and this will prompt them to say an inward “uh-oh” until then. He will then be able to think about the upcoming consequences and process it early.
When you want to have “the talk” with your child, make sure you can also stand your ground. As the saying goes, you have to walk the talk, and this involves having to speak to them at eye level, believing in everything you say, and not letting them see any cracks. Cracks are spaces for them to insert their “no, but’s”–and if you really want to teach them, you can’t let them get too defensive.
Defiance can have many different triggers, and taking on a stress-inducing tone of voice can even amplify the negativity that your child may be feeling. While you fully intend to have a serious talk, it doesn’t all have to be finger wagging and punishment dangling. Try to squeeze in tender words which may calm your child down.
If talking isn’t working, consequences are necessary. There are two approaches when it comes to this: remove something that they enjoy, or impose a new method or situation to deal with it. You can choose to take away a toy or ground them from using a gadget that they love, remove them from an exciting environment (such as a play place), or give them a dreaded time out. You can also choose imposition, wherein you can make them do chores in exchange for good favor, or work on a project that they would otherwise find a tad bit burdensome.
Since you are trying to nip a bad habit in the bud, you always have to be on the lookout for a repeat performance. Once the same scenario pops up again, you have to redirect it all and replay the same tactics you did before. Consistency is key, and it becomes all the more important as you are essentially retraining your child to be more obedient.
Just because your child has taken a liking to saying “no”, doesn’t mean that that’s always going to be the case. Do not get shattered, and still see the positive behavior for what it is. Rewards can help when used the right way, and truth be told, it always makes a person feel better to hear what he is doing well, and not always being reminded of how he is failing. Just remember: You and your child are in this together, and your encouragement will mean the world to him. Being defiant might just be a stage, so keep your head up!