Parenting The Defiant Child
Are you parenting a "defiant" child. We typically think of defiance as a negative trait in children. But think again.
Aren’t there situations in which you WANT your child to demonstrate defiant behavior?
For instance, you want her to demonstrate defiance of peer pressure that would otherwise lead her into self-destructive conduct.
If your child is ever facing a situation in which the odds are against her, but the goal is worth striving for anyway, don’t you want her to demonstrate the gumption to defy those odds? Defiant behavior makes sense there.
What if your child has a dream and some negative person in a position of authority tells her to give up that dream because she will never be capable of succeeding, don’t you want your child to defy that person’s opinion and reach for the stars? So sometimes you hope for defiant child behavior.
If it was not for defiant behavior the United States would still be a British Colony, women would not have the power to vote, horrible traditional practices like slavery would still be in place.
Defiance has to do with ignoring rules, and if we are really going to be honest with one another, sometimes it is better
to break a rule than to obey a rule.
Think of the rules that you have deliberately broken because you honestly believed that you and others would be better off.
So we have to be careful about raising children to follow rules, to do as they are told, to blindly heed authority. Defiant behavior is not necessarily wrong.
What we really want is for children to recognize when a rule is actually NOT working in their best interest, and to not permit themselves to be oppressed or suppressed by wrong or unhealthy rules.
Defiance, then, is not ALL bad. It is a source of innovation, invention and improvement.
What we want is not for children to blindly follow the rules, but to do nothing in defiance of the dictates of the true wisdom of their true selves.
We want to raise the child to recognize what is truly in line with her interest and with the real interests of others, and to select her behavior accordingly.
To lead a child in this intelligent direction, be very careful about how you react to defiance of your directions and rules.
Don’t make defiance in and of itself an incorrect behavior. It depends upon how the child defies the rule, and why.
Sane parents don’t want to raise their children to do what the parents tell them to do. They want to raise their children to be able to make responsible choices for themselves even when there is no parent there to tell them what to do.
If you emotionally react with indignation when your child appears to blatantly ignore your directions or your rules, make it a rule for yourself to maintain your self-control.
You reacting blindly, harshly may actually NOT be what the child needs from you to develop respectful, responsible behavior.
Remain calm so that you can first determine why the child defied you. There may be a good reason. For instance:
o You may have mumbled your direction and she didn’t actually hear you
o You may have directed her while she was concentrating elsewhere
o You may have directed her to do something that she was about to do herself
o You may have directed her to do something that she really doesn’t need to do right now
When we blindly react to defiance, we make the act of defiance wrong, and fail to lead the child into the responsible self-direction that may, at times, require accepting some defiant behavior from the child.
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