How To Deal With A Defiant And Disrespectful Child

Defiant and disrespectful behavior in children often stems from their underdeveloped emotional regulation and problem-solving skills. This conduct also indicates a weak bond between parent and child. Knowing the causes and intentions of the behavior can help parents teach children respect.


 Tips On Handling A Defiant And Disrespectful Child:

  1. Identify Your Goal

Different parents have different objectives. Many parents’ primary goal is to address and stop disrespectful behavior. In that case, setting firm boundaries by making it clear that the behavior is unacceptable and giving a negative consequence to deter future occurrence is a common practice. Although this method provides immediate behavior correction, it is not recommended because it does not address the underlying root cause.

However, if the child’s defiant behaviour is putting themselves or others in immediate danger, parents should take steps to stop the activity right away.

On the other hand, if your goal extends to nurturing long-term character development in your child, then the first step is to stay calm, not get upset, and continue to the next steps.


  1. Acknowledge And Find Out Your Child’s Intention

Children often don’t intend to be defiant or disrespectful. Their actions might stem from emotions or desires.

To discern if your child’s actions are deliberately disrespectful, acknowledge their feelings, describe the effects of their words, and ask them about their intention.


  1. Understand The Underlying Reason

After knowing the intention, find out why by asking probing questions such as;

“Are you angry because you just wanted a little snack before dinner? You were starving, but I didn’t let you, right?”

Or, “Are you angry because I always ignore what you need?”

Or, “Are you being rude because you felt hurt that I took your iPad away?”

Children act disrespectfully for various reasons. Different reasons need different solutions.

For instance, if a child acts out due to anger or frustration, they must learn emotional regulation, healthier emotional expressions, and negotiation skills. If a child’s behavior is aimed at hurting you, examine the dynamics of your relationship.

Asking children directly aids in teaching them to express their emotions and difficulties more constructively. A study from 2012 indicates that enhanced communication abilities can assist children in learning how to regulate their emotions.


  1. Teach Emotional Regulation.

Some children show rude behavior not out of defiance but due to their innate inability to regulate emotions effectively. Emotional regulation is not a born skill; it must be learned and developed over time with parental guidance.

You can teach children how to regulate through a process called co-regulation. In co-regulation, you first recognize your child’s emotions and teach your child to name them. Guide your child in calming down by using techniques like deep breathing. Help your child learn by empathizing with and reflecting on their intense emotions.

  1. Teach Problem-Solving And Be Open To Negotiation

Encourage your child to think critically to tackle the issue when there is a disagreement. That means you must be open to negotiation rather than insisting on “parent logic.”  The “my way or the highway” approach will not help children become respectful.

By allowing room for negotiation, you teach children valuable conflict-resolution skills. It also teaches children the importance of compromise and taking perspectives.



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