Step If Defiance Continues Enforce a Consequence

If you've been clear with your expectations yet your kid continues to defy you, it's time to set a consequence. Effective consequences are clear to the child, have a specified time, directly relate to the offensive attitude, and fit the kid's age and temperament.They must also cause a bit of misery so the child is more willing to change his behavior than suffer the consequence. Once you set it, consistently enforce it, and don't back down! Also, do not negotiate, plead, yell, coax, or bribe. One of the hardest parts of dealing with a defiant kid is remaining calm. But you must; stick to your word and enforce the con-sequence.Your kid has to learn you mean business. Here are a few consequences suitable for defiant attitudes for different aged kids:

• Time-out. For kids generally up to age eight, time-out may be appropriate. This is when a child is immediately removed from an activity for defiance and asked to sit alone quietly for a specified time to think about his actions. The simplest rule for determining the time length is one minute for each year of the child's age (four years equals four minutes, eight years equals eight minutes, and so on). Customize depending on the age of your child, his temperament and personality, and the severity of the offense. For some kids, it's an unendurable cruelty, and for others it's no fun but not a big deal. Make sure that when your child completes time-out (and the time starts the second he complies with your timeout rules), he must still comply with your requests.

• Loss of privileges. Any continued display of the targeted misbehavior can result in your kid's losing certain specified privileges. Make sure it's something you have control over. Losses could include watching TV; using his favorite skateboard, scooter, or bike; playing video or computer games; talking on the phone; listening to music; or even using a common family area.

• Grounding. Other than school or church time, your child must stay on the house premises for a specified length of time—generally a few hours for young kids and one to five days for older kids—and lose all social privileges except for education or church-related purposes. This should be spelled out ahead.

• Code red. If the offense is particularly egregious or defiance continues, some parents pull some or all home entertainment privileges (TV, video games, and phone), in addition to grounding.The reason is simple: unless the attitude stops, it will continue to spiral out of control.This is especially true with preadolescents.

• Boot camp. Find a service project your child can do (with an adult to oversee it), and then require duty for a set period. Maybe it's working in a soup kitchen, helping underprivileged kids, or tutoring second-language children.

The first few times you enforce consequences will not be easy with a defiant kid who is used to getting his way. At times, you may really think it's a heck of a lot easier to give in to your kid. Don't. Once your kid wins again, things will only get worse. Be prepared for your kid to resist your consequences big time and do anything, including an Exorcist-type tantrum, calling you every name in the book, and basically making your life miserable. The trick is for you to stay calm (I know, I know—easier said than done) and above all: do not back down.

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