ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How to Deal with a Defiant Child

Updated on December 17, 2008

Setting Good Boundaries is Key

It may come as a shock one day to discover that the adorable child you once had has somehow transformed into the mischievous terror now ignoring your every direction. While as parents we may passionately fixate on finding the culprit - that is, the schoolmate or neighbor who clearly affected your little angel – it is likely just a new phase in your child’s life. As adults we know that rules exist for our benefit, whereas children must be continually taught this. When you discipline your youngster, keep this in mind: kids thrive when given boundaries and it’s up to you to set them.

Defiance in a child can exist on many levels, at different times, and is a handy term used by parents to encapsulate unapologetic disobedience. From the two year old who stubbornly continues to empty the contents of your sock drawer every morning, to the nine year old who in taunting silence refuses clean up after herself, defiance rears its ugly head in most kids. Parents who either consciously or lazily ignore the problem when it develops are in for a much harder pattern to break later on – if they are even able to break it at all. The best approach is to confront defiance head-on, and here are some handy general methods moms have been using for years:

#1. Stay calm. It is important to always discipline from a place of love and not from a place of anger. If you cannot deal with the current situation without over-reacting, walk away for five minutes to compose yourself.

#2. Speak normally. Yelling at your child will only exasperate the problem and inadvertently teaches them that conflict can only be resolved through heated exchange.

#3. Clearly explain to your child how they have disobeyed you. While you may be greeted with disgruntled sighs, rolled eyes, and overall disregard studies have shown that children truly are listening to their parents – even when you think they aren’t.

#4. Have an established punishment for the defiance and always stick to it. If the boundaries you have set continually change a child’s disobedience will become prolonged. Even if you want to let them off the hook – just this once – don’t do it. Persistence in how you discipline teaches a child that there are always consequences for breaking the rules.

For those parents who have tried everything that the experts have said and still have a child with a defiant attitude I say this: general guidelines are just that – general. Be prepared to set higher standards if the ones you have tried do not work. Remember to tell Susie or Robbie that if they don’t pick up after themselves next time it will cost them two quarters instead of one. Or explain that the Wii, or ipod, or phone privileges will disappear for a day or maybe even a week from when they apologize for their actions. In my experience a defiant attitude can be broken by finding your child’s favorite free time practice and placing limitations on it. Use your head to positively impact your child’s behavior.

Remember to emphasize throughout the disciplining process that you still love your child no matter how they behave, but that they need to learn to respect your wishes as a parent. This life-lesson will prepare your child later on to be a better student, worker, and parent. While it may be agonizing right now, boundary persistence will pay off big in the end.




    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Nayberry profile image


      9 years ago from

      Great hub!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)