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Challenged children and their parents

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Conflict between parent and adolescent is an opportunity for communication.

Conflict arises from two different ways of looking at the same issue. Young people and parents are often in conflict when they disagree about what is desirable, what is appropriate, what is right, what is wrong, what is allowed, what is needed, what has happened, what actually happened, what will happen now.

For children, the goal of this growth is ultimately to establish independence from their parents.

Parents who recognize this change and want to reverse it often treat the conflict with their adolescents as a battle over who will be victorious. There is no end to this war. Except to stop fighting.

If your primary goal in conflict with your child is to gain control, then you have already lost. You are not in a race.

These behaviors will only increase your child’s resistance and opposition.

The result of all this is inevitably “defiant children”.

I have prepared a behavioral map to guide you in dealing with “defiant children”.

Walk away temporarily when you are angry

angry mother

It is possible to get angry when your child is rude or, in your opinion, disrespectful. But if you are on the verge of losing control of your emotions, get out of there or out of the situation.

Tell your child that you will deal with this situation later. This way, you will not say or do anything that you will regret later.

Take 10 to 15 minutes to collect your thoughts and decide on an appropriate response. When you have calmed down – and your child will be calmer by then – restart the discussion.

Don’t be prejudiced and be a good listener

The common denominator among the young people I work with is that they complain that their parents do not listen to them and that they are not understood. When they try to explain their point of view, they say that their parents usually respond by saying;

mother and daughter
  • “Don’t argue with me.”
  • “I know what’s best for you.”
  • “When I was your age…”
  • “Why are you being so difficult?”
  • “You’ll understand when you grow up…”

These reactions cause children to become even more defiant.

Try to really listen instead of giving stereotypical advice and scolding. Ask your child for his/her thoughts and ideas. Ask him/her how he/she feels. What can you do to be a better parent? Ask him/her.

Then listen without judging or criticizing.

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Gradually, you will get to the root of his or her rebellious behavior and be able to communicate in a healthy way.

Appreciate your child’s good behavior

mother child

If you have a defiant child, you may feel that it is impossible to do so. After all, every day it seems to you that he or she is making the wrong decisions and behaving irresponsibly, right?

But the more you focus on a particular behavior, the more he will perform that behavior.

If you point out his bad behavior every day, this bad behavior will multiply. He will begin to see himself as a problem child. He is just going through the usual hormonal and psychological effects of a growth phase. On the other hand, if you see his good behavior and talk about it, you will feel the softening effect.

As he makes this a habit, over time he will stop feeling like a “problem child”. Instead, the fact that the good things he does are seen and understood will further break down his resistance to the parent.

Choose well what to resist

mother child

Take a minute and write down five things you often argue about with your child.

Are these important problems? What about the not so important ones?

If your child is dropping out of school or has bad habits, you should of course intervene.

But if you don’t like your child’s hairstyle or choice of clothes, it may be wise not to make a comment. You should choose your reactions to a defiant child carefully.

Don’t fight worthless battles with your children.

Whenever you intervene with your child, make it clear that this is not a war.

Work with your child to find a solution

As a parent, you may want to exercise your parental authority and have the last word. This desire becomes even stronger when your defiant child refuses to respect you as the leader of your family.

But I have to say that this will not work, especially if your child is an early-teenager or a teenager. This is because at this age they are learning to express their individuality and independence.

So what kind of behavior can you adopt?

Involve your child in the process. Find out how he/she feels about the current situation and what suggestions he/she has to solve it. As you all know, they may have some brilliant ideas.

For example, if you are annoyed that your child misses family meals because they are out with friends, talk to them calmly.

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He can share with you how important family is to him, but he can also tell you how important his friends are to him. Together you can decide on a reasonable number of family meals together each week. Or you can decide together on the number of friend days.

Working together with your child to find a solution is much more effective than declaring that he or she will attend every family dinner or something else, or obliging him or her to do so.

Tell your child what you appreciate about him/her

family child

When was the last time you told your child that you appreciated him/her?

Parents with challenging children are more likely to get stuck on these aspects and fail to see their child’s positive and strong qualities. A child who is constantly criticized for the negative wants to know that his or her good qualities are noticed. If he is kind and brave, a good cook, a great friend, let him see that you are aware of all these things about him.

By doing this, you will remind him of your unconditional acceptance and love. This will neutralize his unruly behavior and help open the lines of communication.

If you want to make it more effective, you can write her letters periodically.

Show kindness and respect to your child

Basic respect behavior is a reciprocal concept. You need to show that you respect the other person while you expect respect.

You can start by paying attention to these;

  • Say “please” and “thank you” when appropriate
  • Don’t interrupt him when he speaks
  • Avoid constantly criticizing him
  • Give him options where appropriate
  • Do not speak badly about him, especially in front of others
  • Do not compare with anyone

The more you treat your child with respect, the more likely you are to get the respect you expect.

Apologize to your child if necessary

parent and child

As parents, we sometimes lose our temper, say rude things and make unreasonable statements. If you have a defiant child, this probably happens more often than you would like.

When we make a mistake, we should apologize.

Leaders go first. As the leaders of our families, we should be the first to say “I’m sorry” to our children.

Here’s how you can implement this.

Make a list of mistakes for which you have not yet apologized to your child. Write them down, even if they happened a long time ago.

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Start apologizing once a month.

What do you mean?

Find an opportunity each month to say “I’m sorry” to your child for something you haven’t apologized for. For example, when you have a quiet moment with them, say, “Remember when I promised to take you to the amusement park after your exams, but I couldn’t because something happened at work? I’m really sorry about that.”

This “one apology a month” technique will help you build a stronger relationship with your child. They will be less rebellious and more compassionate towards you.

Get to know your child’s friends, especially if you think they are “bad friends”

your child's friends

Your child probably has friends you don’t approve of. Maybe they are rude, they smoke or their relationship with the school is not what you want.

In such a situation, many parents will say to the child, “I don’t want you to be friends with him.”

But do you think it is effective?

Most likely, he will spend more time with these friends just to go against your wishes.

Instead, get to know your child’s friends. Spend time with them. At the end of the day, you can critique your children. The more you interact with your children’s friends, the more objective you can be about them. In this way, you can make a more informed decision about whether or not to intervene.

Do not make judgments about your child’s hobbies, interests, music, etc

young guitar player

Children and young people in the transition to adolescence – especially those labeled as “defiant” or “rebellious” – often feel that they are seen as a problem, not as a person. They feel that everyone around them is trying to “fix” them, so they react by rebelling more aggressively.

To reconnect with your child, avoid judgment as much as possible. After all, no one who feels judged will be inspired to change their behavior and take action.

Here are some judgmental statements you should not make:

  • “Stop wasting time playing online games.” (You have decided that online games are a waste of time.)
  • “The music you listen to does nothing for you.” (You have judged your child’s taste in music.)
  • “Your friends are a bad influence on you.” (You have judged your child’s ability to choose the right friends.)
  • “You are lazy when it comes to schoolwork.” (You have judged your child’s character.)
  • “You should eat more. You are too thin. ” (You have judged your child’s body.)
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In each of the situations listed above, I have illustrated how you can communicate more effectively:

  • “Can you tell me more about the game you are playing?” (You can play the game yourself, it might help)
  • “What does this music make you feel, what do you like?”
  • “How do you spend time with your friends?”
  • “Is there anything I can do to help you with your schoolwork?”
  • “What do you want to eat? Together we can prepare a meal of your choice.”

By being more understanding and less judgmental, you will build a better relationship with your child.

As I said, “Dysfunctional rules breed rebellion.”

If you want your child to be less defiant and less rebellious, your parent-child relationship is the critical piece of the puzzle.

To summarize;

  • When he or she gets angry, temporarily walk away.
  • Don’t be prejudiced and be a good listener.
  • Acknowledge your child’s good behavior.
  • Choose well what to resist.
  • Work with your child to find a solution.
  • Tell your child what you appreciate about him/her.
  • Show kindness and respect to your child.
  • Apologize to your child if necessary.
  • Get to know your child’s friends, especially if you think they are “bad friends”.
  • Do not judge your child’s hobbies, interests, music, etc.

I guarantee that these strategies work. But they won’t work overnight. With effort, dedication and patience, you will witness it.

Adolescence means change. As a parent of a teenager, you also need to change. In fact, raising a child means keeping up with development and change. When your child is 10 years old, you don’t treat him/her as if he/she is still 1 year old, and when he/she is 16 years old, you should take care not to treat him/her as if he/she is 10 years old. At this point, problems arise mostly when parents expect the adolescent to behave like an adult. Setting expectations and limits at an age-appropriate level is one of the challenging requirements of parenting.

Try to get to know your child well, if you are aware of his/her needs, it will be possible to find common ground and reach a compromise. Adolescents want to be taken seriously, to be cared about, to see that they are successful and resourceful and, of course, to be appreciated like any other human being. For this, opportunities should be seized.

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Transformation takes time, so don’t be discouraged if your child doesn’t respond right away. Keep going and be confident that the situation will improve. Use the healing power of love. Keep loving and showing it in all circumstances. Love, love and love again.

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