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The defiant child By Dr TEOH HSIEN-JIN

SUE was a precocious child. She had the tendency to ask lots of questions. Initially, Sue’s parents encouraged her to ask lots of questions because they wanted to encourage her learning.

It was fun for them to think of ways to help the little five-year-old broaden her world vision.

One day, the happiness that Sue’s parents felt began to fade. They noticed that many of the responses to their requests were answered with "Why should I?" They tried to give her explanations, but as time went on, she began to get more outspoken, and even began to call them names.

The problem that Sue’s parents are having with Sue is very common. Many children refuse to follow instructions, talk back to their parents, are rude, sarcastic and demanding.

Naturally this wears the parent down, and the parent ends up shouting at the child. The harsh behaviour may result in the child accusing the parent of not loving her and being mean and unkind. Children normally employ this technique to get their own way and avoid doing unwanted tasks.

Contrary to what a lot of parents think, this defiant behaviour do not occur out of the blue. They emerge gradually over a period of time. Normally, children learn how to carry out this behaviour by watching others and through trying out all sorts of ways to avoid doing chores.

Many parents do not realise that they unwittingly encourage such behaviour in the child. It is only natural that this occurs as the child looks to her parents as role models.

Index - Nurturing the thinking child
Your Kids can, if you let them think they can!
The road to change
Echo of Life
Touched by an Angel
Dad, I'm thinking of something
The touch of the master's hands
Give your child the reason to say; Why not?
Peer Pressure by Dr Teoh Hsien-jin
Memory, the cement of learning
A guide to brain-based learning
Exercise, movement and learning
The Defiant child by Dr Teoh Hsien-jin
Stress and Motivation in Learning
Developing Through Play

Defiant behaviour can occur when parents threaten their children with consequences and do not enforce rules when the child refuses to carry out a task, or is in the wrong.

In such cases, the child learns not to take her parents seriously. On many occasions, parents give in to the child and the child learns that she can get what she wants.

The following are some suggestions for parents to reduce defiant behaviour. Be clear about the consequences of bad behaviour. Much of the defiant behaviour in children stems from not being clear about the rules in the house.

Give clear instructions. When instructions are given, they must be given clearly. Include details such as what needs to be done, how much is required, when it must be done, and where the task is to be carried out. The more specific a parent is, the easier it is for the child to follow a command.

Thus the consequences for good and bad behaviour must be clearly stated to the child. Parents need to provide some examples of what will happen when the child fails to carry out instructions.

Enforce consequences. Children learn very quickly when their parents are not likely to keep their promises. Thus it is important that parents enforce the consequences immediately.

This can take the form of sending the child to her room, making her stand in corner or not being allowed to play.

Naturally, the child will plead forgiveness and say he will do what the parents want so that she will not be punished. However, it is necessary to carry out the consequence for defiant behaviour first.

Do not condone talking back. When a child is talking back, she is just trying to prolong the situation and avoid doing the task.

If the instruction has been clear and specific, then no extra explanation is needed. Ignore what the child is saying and wait for a minute before enforcing the punishment for not following the instruction.

Show the child alternative behaviours.
Some children who have poor role models may not know what positive behaviour is. The parent would have to assist the child with this task by helping the child with the right words and the correct actions.

The parent may have to role-play the behaviour with the child to make sure that she knows what to say and do. If a child is so used to saying nasty things and behaving in a nasty manner, changing her behaviour to a more positive one is going to take some practice.

Reward positive behaviour. For positive behaviour to be repeated, it must be rewarded. Thus it is important that parents be on the look-out to reward and praise positive behaviour.

  Establish one set of rules within the house. Finally, all the good work that parents are trying to do can be destroyed if the other people in the house give in to the child. Make sure that everyone in the house knows what is being done and follows one set of rules.

They need to understand that when the child is defiant, the negative behaviour needs to be punished, and when the child is well behaved, she needs to be praised and rewarded.

Article courtesy of Amway Malaysia’s One by One Campaign aims to promote positive mental health in children through a series of workshops and camps. For details log on to Thursday 4th May, 2006 Star

Support your child even if you are not too interested in the subject yourself. Do not belittle their choice of subject for curiosity, e.g. Hollywood celebrities, aliens. The process of learning and finding information is more important than the content.

Brain-based motivators aim to help your child learn by making him or her feel that they are learning because they wants to. This is thought to be more life long and personally meaningful.

These motivators usually do not cost any money while a love of learning is simply priceless! Stress and Motivation in Learning



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