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My defiant child: What works for me?

Parenting a defiant child is a constant quest. Parents are struggling at one point or another to get some practical tips and tricks. Here we brought some practical strategies from granny’s treasure box for you. Every one of us has dreamt of having a happy & loving family. We all want that our toddlers grow up as considerate adolescence. A dream family setting where elders are truly blessed with children who demonstrate perfect manners, a high level of intelligence, and utmost obedience.

Life is full of colors and surprises. One of these is an epic power struggle between you and your defiant child. This situation is not only frustrating and demanding for parents But is alerting to others relatives as well. You don’t want to turn into a warrior, and I’m pretty sure you don’t want to turn your house into a battlefield. Now you must have wondered what can be done to improve your child’s behavior? First of all, believe me, you are not alone on the earth facing this problem. This problem is centuries old. Secondly, you need to step out of the frustration zone. Thirdly, try to figure out the cause or reason for defiance.

Etiology of Defiance:

Every child is born with a unique set of characteristics that mature with time. The child’s temperament becomes noticeable once s/he starts growing and emerging as an individual. Defiance is not always a discipline problem!! As a parent, you need to reconnect with your child to fix his behavior. Your patience and your assurance to your child play a major role in keeping the matter under control.

Sometimes, a child is involved in some activity and appears to be defiant. This is because he is so focused on an activity and daydreaming. To fix his defiance, you need to dig deep and understand your child’s behavior.

“Praise your children openly, reprehend them secretly.”

-W Cecil

Defiant child: Red Flags

  1. He has temper tantrums more often.
  2. Always argue with an adult.
  3. Defiant behavior persists for a longer period of time.
  4. He uses harsh and unkind words.
  5. It affects the child’s performance and
  6. relationships with family and friends have affected as well

Then you need to see a mental health professional to rule out an oppositional defiant disorder (ODD).

Attributes of a Defiant Child

 Following are a few attributes that are prominent in defiant children:

  • They want control of their life. Therefore they constantly inspect their authority.
  • They like to be independent.
  • They are inborn leaders. As a result, they might seem bossy and authoritative at all times.

  Effectual Strategies to deal with a Defiant Child

The defiant child is an inborn leader; therefore, you as a parent should believe in your child’s abilities. Here, the target should not make them lose their sense of authority but positively channel it.

1. Listen to your child & get him out from the difficult situation

If your child is throwing tantrums, then it is time he needs your presence. Being with your child during these fragile moments is important. Elaborate and explain to him the matter in a respectful manner. Be firm on what you say. Please allow them to channel out their negative emotions without maltreating anyone. Listen to their concerns and respond to them appropriately. Do not react. Be empathetic and compassionate toward their feeling; however, keep your boundaries anchored.

2. Reassure their exploration

Children are curious, and they want to gain first-hand experiences. Their brain is in the developing phase; thus, expressing themselves can be totally out of context sometimes as there might be a hidden message behind every behavior. Being a parent, your perception is most important. Because you can only help them relieve their stress if you realize how much they are struggling to handle something difficult.

It would help if you turned up the rationale leading to hostile behavior of your child. You can only achieve this target if you can walk in his shoes. Hug him and then assure him you understand what is bothering him.

3. Give the defiant Child some options

Defiant children are bossy and controlling, and they hate to lose their authority. They want to make their own decisions. Hence, it is important to give them choices and let them choose any one of them. That gives them a sense of control. Do not overwhelm them with too many options. They will get confused if given many choices.

4. Disciplining as an opportunity

Heated-up moments make you and your youngster unable to think. Young kids can only grasp a concept if they are calm. Thus you need to sit down with them and involve them in a two-way conversation. Allow them to express themselves. It would help if you tried to respond positively to their reservations. Children need to learn the boundaries through gentle reminders and mostly through modeling. If they understand that each behavior follows a consequence, then it becomes fairly easy to go around the rules.

5. provide an opportunity to utilize his energy

Spend some private time with your child and engage them in creative activities. Model the sportsman spirit and accept the failure. Teach him the importance of moving one.

6. Admit your mistake

Suppose you have overreacted verbally in extreme cases of heated-up situations. Then accepting your mistake and apologize timely to your child. That can save your relationship. It models a good behavior of admitting mistakes and getting over them. 

Finally, we parents must acknowledge that our job is very similar to that of a gardener in terms of responsibility. We are concerned about our children and make every effort to provide them with the best nutritional resources possible. The ultimate nature and future of our children, on the other hand, are beyond our control. I live by the mantra “do your best and leave the rest” when it comes to having a peaceful parenting journey.

“It is time for parents to teach young people that in diversity, there is beauty, and there is strength.”

–Maya Angelou


Barkley, R. A. (1987). Defiant children. New York, NY, USA:: Guilford press.

Barkley, R. A. (2013). Defiant children: A clinician’s manual for assessment and parent training. Guilford press.

American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. Oppositional defiant disorder. Updated January 2019.

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