Any ideas for disciplining a defiant child?

Melissa - posted on 09/13/2012 ( 1 mom has responded )




My son has recently been having problems in school (he's in first grade) and these problems have carried over to the home. He whines, doesn't listen, and talks back. He has also begun to try to control his environment by changing his mind. We will offer him something he wants like a comic book for good behavior and he will feign disinterest so we take the book back. He will begin to throw a fit saying he wants it. I have tried just about everything from talking it out to sticker charts to bribery and I havent found anything that works. Any ideas?


Ariana - posted on 09/14/2012




My son used to play the old "I don't want that, oh no I WANT THAT!" game. The easiest way to stop that is if he says he doesn't want the comic book either

1. say alright than you're not getting it and if he throws a fit ignore him or

2. leave it where he can get it if he chooses (within a time-frame I guess if it's a special treat). The leaving it part takes away his control of finding an excuse to have a fit over something. My son would yell that he wanted water, than yell that he didn't want it, than you'd try to give it to him and he'd yell again, so I just said if you want it get it yourself and put it where he could reach it. Than he'd yell but it wouldn't be my problem it'd be his (this is just an example). Eventually it stopped once there was no power struggle.

For whining tell him either he needs to talk in a nice voice, or once you've said that you can say I don't listen to people who don't talk properly and ignore what he's saying. At his age he might not even actually realize how his voice sounds. You could bring it up when you're both in a good mood and kind of make a joke of it (not at him) but just say how it sounds and make a voice with a face and tell him afterward that you want him to talk normal from now on. Don't do that while he's whining or upset or it will seem like you're making fun of him. You said you already talked to him though so I would just once say 'you need to speak in a nice voice' and then ignore it.

Talking back is really difficult to control. I would tell him you don't accept talking back and you won't allow someone to talk to you like that. If you don't need to be around him I would send him to his room or a timeout for that type of behavior. It's unacceptable for him to be rude to you and he should know that you won't stay near someone who talks to you like that. I would also expect an apology from him afterward. I would also try not to give to big a reaction because he is using what he can to show you his defiance. Just simply say you don't allow people to talk to you disrespectfully and that he needs to sit in time-out for 5 minutes. Then ignore anything he says or does (as long as he stays where he is) until he's quiet and sitting there for 5 minutes.

Doesn't listen is kind of broad. My thinking with kids is avoid confrontation if possible, but if there is a confrontation you need to be the one in charge. So if you ask him (for ex.) put your toys away please, you have to be ready to always make sure he does it. If you're asking him to do something you aren't prepared to actually make sure he does than don't request it. I found my son really responded to limited options. He used to dislike getting his pajama's on and something as simple as do you want to wear the red or blue pj's can make the difference between compliance and non-compliance. Not always possible and doesn't always work but trying to do things in a different way or in a way that provides choices can sometimes help.

When that didn't work telling him he needed to sit in a time-out until he was ready to do what he was told helped too. It actually worked better than just giving a time-out because it was more like I told him he needed to calm down and do what I asked before he could leave. If he left I'd ask if he was ready to clean up and if he said no he'd go back. Then it's up to him when he's ready.

I would work on one of these issues at a time and try to limit how often you use the time-out system. It only really works if you use it for major problems, like use it for one or two things, don't use it for talking-back, not cleaning toys, not listening, whining etc. or it loses it's effect.

It might be good to have a special-time with him either everyday or every other day (not sure how many kids you hae if you're married etc.) where you can do something with him where he can do whatever he wants. Not whatever he wants as in rude behavior but as in you'll sit and play superman (or something) for 20 minutes and do whatever he wants. It's good bonding time and it lets him have a little control He can just be with you and have you do what he wants (temporarily).

I hope everything works out!

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