Avoid Fighting with Your Defiant and Disrespectful Child?


When you dreamed about having children there are many realities that you just didn't know about, even if you used to look at other parents and say "Oh, my kids will never do that..."


That's why I tell my clients that a Mission Statement and a Vision are so important. No, it won't prevent all problems but it will give you a sense of direction when things go awry.

For example, at some point in our parenting, we will hear some version of:

You can’t make me.

At that point, moms will probably go to Google and search for some version of “consequences for a disrespectful child” “my child is defiant and disrespectful” “how to deal with an angry disrespectful child” etc.

For some children, well-behaved children, the parenting tips and methods gleaned from the search will work. Tips like:

  • Stay calm (uh, not so easy after a long day at work and dinner needs to be made)
  • Investigate why your child is upset (who has time for this and if you, the adult doesn’t know, how is a young child supposed to articulate it?)
  • Get down on your child’s level (so he will have better aim for punching you in the nose?)

The people giving this advice are well-intentioned. But those of us with spirited children know how frustrating it is when we get advice like that because we either don’t have the time, don’t have the energy, or we know it just plain won’t work (did I mention that we are EXHAUSTED?).

And when you have a Mission Statement for your family you will know what your values are and how to express them/teach them to your children. Your vision of each of your children helps you determine what behaviors are problematic and which can be ignored. And both make the following a lot easier to follow:

What will work?  S P I R I T !

  • Stay strong: Repeat after me “I am the adult. I am the adult. I am the adult.” Seriously, we are the adult and it's our job to act like it. But how? Ask your partner or friends or family for support (like taking the kids so we can take a walk). Getting enough sleep (say "no" to Netflix). Eating well (not perfectly, just well).

  • Pause: Resist giving a consequence, yelling, threatening, bribing, etc. All good things will come to those who wait! But how? Well, when you're staying strong, it's easier. Instead of freaking out on your darling child, say "Well, a kid's gotta do what a kid's gotta do." and walk away. 

  • Inquire: when calm, ask your child “What do you need from me?” You might be surprised by the answer you get.

  • Reflect: I use HALT (ask "Is my kid hungry, angry, lonely, tired?") to help understand what the culprit may be (with spirited kids, there may not be a reason).

  • Intuition: Use yours. Pausing as suggested above will allow you to check your gut for the next right step; do you let it go? Give a consequence? If so, what consequence feels appropriate?

  • Thanks-giving: Exercise your gratitude muscles! Focus on the things about your kid that makes her wonderful. That makes him likely to be successful. What things your kid does that makes you laugh? Then tell him! "Hey, I know that you're going to be an amazing leader one day because when you set your mind to something, you really go for it!" Doesn't that sound better than "Why can't you just let things go?"

If you want help making a Mission Statement and Vision for your children, download my Six Steps PDF today!


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