Dealing with Defiance

You know that moment when you ask your child not to do something and they look right at you and do it anyway?

When you know they are testing you, but not sure how to deal with the situation?


Part of the cause of this apparent defiance is our children’s desire to meet our expectations. Often when a parent asks their child to do something (or not to do something!) they give out the impression that they are expecting non compliance.

If you ask with a pleading or nagging/repetitive voice, accompanied with continuing to watch them to ensure they do as you say, what you are doing is sending a strong message to your child – “I don’t believe you are going to do as I ask.”

To get respect and cooperation from our children, we have to expect these things. If you cant bring yourself to believe that your child will respect your boundaries, simply fake it until you get your confidence back. The difference between your child responding to you with cooperation rather than defiance is all in your attitude.

Here are some tips to put this in to practice –

When you ask your child to do something, ask once. Break the habit of nagging and instead ask confidently and firmly that your child do what you need.

Secondly, once you have asked your child to do whatever it is, stop focusing on them. Turn away, go back to what you were doing, but don’t keep watching them. Their continuing to push limits whilst looking you in the eye and smiling, is done in order to get a reaction from you. It becomes a fun game which causes frustration to the parent.

If your child chooses to ignore your instructions, follow through on your boundaries. If they are persisting in something dangerous, pick them up and move them away. If they wont tidy up, do it yourself and lead by example. Keep the mood light. I know when someone is angry and bossy with me, it can make me feel defensive. Show them that you are on their side and will always love them, keeping your tone light yet firm. If your instructions are ignored, let it go rather than brooding on it. They will reflect your mood.

Lastly, limit your use of the word “No.” Often we get in to the habit of saying it when it doesn’t really need to be said. Save it for the important times and your child will feel less controlled and more inclined to listen when you do use it.

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4 thoughts on “Dealing with Defiance”

  1. i’ve been following you on facebook, but never knew you had an actual blog. i recently started by own blog early last month and i’m glad i stumbled across yours. your status updates on facebook had encouraged me during times i felt so alone in my parenting choices. i’m a SAHM to a spirited 16 month old. i hope to connect with other like-minded mothers in this blogging community so i can continue raising my daughter in the most natural, peaceful way possible.

    1. I am so there with you. Natural parenting is, well, natural yet society knocks it down and finding the support from those we love and most times seek acceptance from is sometimes difficult.

  2. Hi, my name is Kalee and I have a very sweet and playful 4.5 year old boy Silas, and am 5 months pregnant with my second, a girl:) . I am SO glad I found your blog, it really hits home with me. I often find myself nagging my child to clean up or eat his dinner, and it always ends in a battle. He will usually end up doing the task, but after a long time and after a lot of frustration on my part. When you say to ask the child once and then go on about your business, such as as asking my son to pick up his things in his room, and he starts whining and complaining, would you suggest cleaning it up for him? I worry that ignoring his complaints and just cleaning up for him will teach him that if he objects my requests by whining that it will “work” and he won’t learn the responsibility of picking up his own things. Do you have any insight on this? I have read The Continuum Concept and am excited to adopt this mindset now that I am having a new baby and to adopt this mindset with Silas as well. Thank you ❤

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