16 minutes | Aug 13, 2018

Episode 076: 5 Healthy Ways to Get Defiant Kids to Do What YOU Want

Listen here or READ the post below. If you have listened to August at all, you know that we're talking about the tough temperament of the strong willed child. Things that are just part of their personality that drive us nuts as parents. You need to listen or read our first interview from this month because we talk about some things that are critical to know about your strong-willed child’s personality. But we wanted to spend the rest of the month talking about some specific temperament issues that are frustrating and give you some tips on how to navigate those. One of the biggest concerns that we hear from parents is that their child is oppositional. That everything is a fight.  They are oppositional from sunrise to sunset. Whether parents are trying to get them to eat breakfast, get dressed, get in the car, do a chore, or do their homework, their child just feels the need to put up a fight.  This process can be so exhausted for a parent and create real tension in the parent-child relationship. Luckily, marriage and family therapist, Jeff Tesch is going to teach us five ways we can decrease opposition in our strong-willed kids. Jeff Tesch, LMFT We have a few kids of our own that like to be oppositional and it does seem like they’re doing it intentionally.  But if you read last week’s post, you’ll remember that being oppositional is just how a strong-willed child’s brain is wired. Knowing that can help us be more patient with them and not resent them so much.  It can also help us be motivated to learn how to work around that natural wiring. Here are five things I suggest to my clients whose children are more oppositional by nature. Tip #1 Give your child choices We can really avoid a lot of power struggles, even with kids that aren't strong willed, by giving them choices.  It's healthy for kids to have appropriate choice and teaches them how to make choices for themselves. Giving choices also helps a child feel control in their own life and so much of the opposition that we face as parents is simply our child fighting for control.  So the more places you can give your child control, the better. Giving your child choice and control doesn’t mean that you don’t enforce your boundaries.  Rather, it means you give your child choices that are still within your boundaries. For example: If it's bedtime, you would state the expectation, then give two choices that you are comfortable with. “Hey Sally, it’s bedtime.  Would you like to put your pajamas on first or get your teeth brushed first?  Which works better for you?” Choices help them feel some control and they're less likely to resist. Now this is a technique that we've used in our own home and we've seen it help in a lot of situations, yet not help in others.  Keep reading the other tips to see if they might help in those situations. Tip #2 Be flexible as a parent I have some parents in my office who have become oppositional in response to their oppositional child.  Parents who have had so many power struggles with their kids, that they aren’t willing to be flexible with their kids any more.  These parents aren’t bad, they're just tired and need to be reminded that there are things that they can be flexible with. I want to be clear, that family rules and boundaries are not flexible.  However, are there some things that your child wants control over that really would be OK for them to have control over? My kids wanted to choose what time during the day they did their homework.  Initially, I wanted to tell them what time to do it, but decided that our boundary would just be what time it needed to be finished by.  I told them that boundary and now they have the freedom to choose any time before that boundary to finish their homework.  Flexibility on our part has avoided a lot of opposition. Choosing your battles with a strong-willed child is a wise thing to do.  Think about which battles you could drop and which boundaries you wan...
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