How to Manage a Defiant Child

Defiant Child

What Defines a Defiant Child 

Defiance in children is a common problem, especially in toddlers and adolescents. It manifests itself when your child does not follow the tasks you ask them to do or express dislike for their chores. Sometimes, they may try to control the situation or test your limits. In more extreme cases, children are formally diagnosed as having oppositional defiant disorder (ODD)


Managing a Defiant Child 

Younger boys are more likely to argue with adults and lose their temper. While younger girls are more inclined to lie and be uncooperative. Learning how to manage your child’s defiance can help reduce household stress. Here are some tips for managing a defiant child: 

Set clear expectations.

It is important that your child knows and understands the rules when it comes to chores and other responsibilities. However, make sure that your child is given age-appropriate tasks. Your toddler may find it difficult to clean their room and thus refuse to do it. It may help if you break a task into smaller ones, such as making their bed and putting away their toys. 

Look for underlying issues. 

Defiant behavior may have stemmed from several factors. Some children are defiant because they want to get attention from their parents or they just like to test their will. Some have developmental struggles. And there are instances where defiant behavior stems from grief or other conditions. Try to look for the root cause of the defiance. Once you learn what’s causing their behavior, you can take steps to ensure that your child will be less likely to oppose you. 

Give effective instructions. 

Ensure that the defiant behavior you are witnessing is actually defiance. If your child is doing something or they’re too distracted to pay attention to what you’re saying, then there’s a good chance that they did not hear you. Because of that, you might need to change the way you give instructions. If you want them to do something, make sure that they hear you. Establish eye contact and put a hand on their shoulder to help you get their attention. 

Praise compliant behavior. 

Praise your child when they are exhibiting good behavior. It may be difficult to observe our child’s good behavior when they are constantly refusing to listen to you. However, you must praise them when they comply with your instruction or tasks. Thanking or praising them sends the message that you appreciate their compliance.

Give your child options. 

One of the best ways to combat defiant behavior is to give your child options. Sometimes your child exhibits defiant behavior because they might want to do things differently. When you offer choices, your child will feel that they have some control over the situation. For example, instead of saying, “Do you want to wear this black pair of shoes?”, you can try “Do you want to wear the black pair of shoes or the white ones?” 

Seek professional help. 

If you feel like you cannot properly handle your child’s defiance, then you can seek professional help. If your discipline strategies are not working anymore or you are concerned that your child may have a more serious problem, then you might need to talk to a pediatrician. They may be able to find the root cause of the defiant behavior and create a treatment plan to resolve the issue. 

Talk to your child’s healthcare provider about their behavioral development and issues. Children’s Medical Centers of Fresno provides quality healthcare to children of the Central Valley. Schedule your child’s appointment today!

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