Defiant Behavior in Children: How To Manage It


When children define and display their personalities more decisively than they did earlier in life, defiant behavior can appear. And yes, it can be annoying and frustrating, but it is natural. 


Defiant behavior appears as a result of children trying to set limits, so they refuse to follow some rules or even listen to parents and authorities. It is upsetting, but that doesn’t turn them into bad kids. It’s just that they haven’t learned, because of their young age, how to set healthy limits or express themselves correctly. So, at this point, parents should help their children understand that incipient independence is healthy, but a continuous pattern of defiance is not.


Toley Ranz is here to help you with some tips on how to deal with this kind of behavior!

Strategies for Dealing With a Child Who Refuses to Listen

  • Choose Your Battles Wisely: As a parent, you can choose where to put your energy and where you don’t. For example, if your children say they don’t like wearing certain outfits for school, don’t waste your time and just let them wear what they want as long as it is appropriate; this will avoid unnecessary negative situations. But, if your children say they don’t want to do their homework, that’s something to pay attention to, and set limits and rules.


  • Give Positive Attention: Defiant behavior is usually caused by children seeking attention. If you give them positive attention, such as spending quality time together, playing games, talking to them, or just going to walk, defiant behavior will drastically reduce in your routine.


  • Stay Consistent: Once you have explained how they should behave several times, give them only a few chances. You can give them one or two opportunities to correct their conduct, but if they don’t listen to you, they must know that actions and behavior have consequences.

  • Offer Specific Choices: Defiant behavior is a manifestation of your children trying to get control of some situations, and this can be solved by giving them specific choices. Instead of asking them if they want to eat their vegetables and receiving a categoric “no” as an answer, try asking them, “Do you prefer carrots or eggs for lunch?”. This will give them the sensation that they have control over some specific situations.


  • Develop A Behavioral Contract: Set general rules on how your children must behave at home and school. By following these rules, they can gain more responsibilities and privileges.


    Toley Tip: make sure that these arrangements are flexible in some areas so your children know exactly where the limit is. For example, if they go to bed at 9 pm, give them 15 extra minutes to play around, brush their teeth, or spend a few more minutes with you.

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