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How to Make Defiant Behavior in Children Worse

Defiant children are usually raised in homes where limits are too lenient or inconsistent. One or both parents may not be available to give the youngster any attention. The mom or dad may also demonstrate defiant behavior. 

Do you lean more toward the lenient side? Are your rules often inconsistent? Do you have little time to spend with your child? Do you get angry with your child (e.g., yell, nag). If so, then you are on the right track for making defiant behavior worse. Below are some more ideas...

10 tips for making defiant behavior worse:
  1. Add more and more consequences.
  2. Don’t follow through with consequences and try to be inconsistent.
  3. Engage in confrontation in front your child’s peers or siblings.
  4. Fight every parent-child battle that comes along, regardless of how big or small the problem is.
  5. Get annoyed at every little thing your child does wrong.
  6. Let power-struggles go on for a long time.
  7. Lose your temper (e.g., yell or use sarcasm to escalate the problem).
  8. Threaten your child.
  9. Try to bribe your child to improve his behavior (e.g., let him have his way just so he will shut up).
  10. Try to embarrass your child or put him down.

If you prefer to decrease rather than increase defiant behavior, then you will want to follow these 10 tips instead:
  1. Analyze the power-struggles you have been hooked into (e.g., what hooked you?).
  2. Be sure to listen to your child and consider what he is saying.
  3. Discuss things briefly and in private to remove the audience.
  4. Give clear directions to your child.
  5. Have clear boundaries and predetermined consequences for problem behavior.
  6. Monitor your tone. With an unruly child, you may become triggered to be negative too. This is a mistake. So keep your tone neutral when your child is oppositional, and be positive when he is neutral or positive.
  7. Remove yourself from the interaction if you can’t stay calm.
  8. Turn your oppositional child into a “helper” (e.g., creating the grocery list, how to organize things in the garage, what vegetables to plant in the garden, etc.). Defiant kids have a strong need for control, so helping them to find pro-social ways to channel that need can be a great technique to help them gain a sense of control and self-worth. Of course, make sure that your child is appropriately prepared, trained, and supervised in the task at hand. 
  9. Use a calm neutral voice – no matter what!!!
  10. Use rewards carefully. Defiant behavior is often driven by the child’s resistance to being under your control or authority. Therefore, reward systems may not always work, especially if the youngster senses your desire to tame or manipulate him.


==> My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents

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