In last week’s article, we discussed the challenges that emerge when children are openly defiant. These trying, frustrating moments are difficult to manage and parents often lose an open power struggle with a child.
How to Avoid Losing in a Power Struggle
We covered these initial three points:
1.) Never try to teach during ‘crunch time.’ Teach in the daily moments.
2.) Give up controlling language. It makes us look foolish and doesn’t work!
3.) Learn to ask or inform…not command. The magic words: “It’s time to…”
Those three points are essential to have under your belt if you are serious about eliminating the defiant ‘no’ in your home. Return to that article on TerrificParenting.com, price and review those points in detail. All progress hinges on the right starting point. Now, let’s turn to the next steps in this plan.
4. Ignore the verbal defiance in the moment. Walk away from the “NO.”
In the wide majority of situations, there is no damage that is being done when children are saying “NO.” They may not be listening as we want, but there is often no risk attached. This airport situation mentioned last week was a great example of that. There was no urgent issue that precluded the mother from simply walking away from the ‘no.’ So the practical, in fact, critical, action is to FIRST just walk away and disengage when your child is defiant.
“You mean I should ignore such blatant defiance? No way!”
Look, I get it. The thought is that if I just ignore my child saying “no” I am approving and condoning the defiance behind this.
But that’s not really what happens. Children already know it’s wrong. You have told them many times, and telling them again doesn’t change their behavior. And many of you already know it worthless to keep repeating it! (If verbally reprimanding your child worked for these oppositional moments, I would be out of business and you would not be reading this article!)
Here’s the plain and simple truth: Words, lecture and even angry reactions about bad behavior doesn’t create good behavior. It just makes it worse!
If getting angry or reacting to the defiance worked, I would likely support it. But it doesn’t work. Here’s why: When you give your energy and attention to the defiance (often quite predictably), this energy just feeds that defiance! It validates it and ensures more of it tomorrow, next week…and so on. For many of you, if you just followed these first four steps for a month, most defiance behavior would disappear. (Not all, but most.) And for those with a more oppositional-defiant child, more is needed. But always, start by being ‘unperturbed’ by the defiant moment, and just walk away. Show disinterest in the defiance, and it will wane with time. It’s also important to…
5. Keep Life Moving…With or Without Them
This is a real action step. When there is defiance, just ignore the defiant moment, and keep things moving forward. Don’t try to get their cooperation. If you asked them to cut off the IPad and they don’t, just take it away without another word.
If you ask them to put on their shoes, and they say no, just keep moving forward. Cut out the lights, put on your jacket and start leaving. If it’s bath time, and you get the ‘no’ then simply cut off the lights, and start moving toward the bathroom. There is no significant attention to any complaints or whining, as you keep moving. Trust the power of where you invest your attention, and watch what happens. Many of you will be amazed at how rapidly many kids give up the defiance.
In next week’s article, we will address the more seriously defiant child, and the subsequent steps you can take. But for now, please start with these critical pieces. Until then, stay strong and focused on these five fundamentals.