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How do you deal with defiance?

Defiance by its nature is difficult to manage. We manage children with their cooperation and when they choose not to cooperate things become very challenging for us. It therefore worth considering why children cooperate before considering why they are defiant. Children cooperate for a number of reasons:

because it is in their own self-interests
to please us
to avoid negative consequences
because it is their learned behaviour to comply
because it is the behaviour that others are doing

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Defiance occurs when the reasons for complying become outweighed by other influences. These can include:

feelings of anger or other negative emotions towards you
believing that it is in their best interests to defy you
to avoiding a more unpleasant feeling, anxiety or fear
because they lack a strategy for managing the current situation
a lack of concern about negative consequences
because they see or believe that others are being defiant

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Strategies:

Avoid making threats and giving unenforceable ultimatums. If there being defiant you end up sounding ridiculous
Keep calm and carry on! Try to model calm behaviour otherwise don't expect your child to become calm and more compliant
Don't say 'please' but end requests with 'thanks' This suggests their agreement to comply
Give them time to comply. Avoid eye contact or 'watching over them'
Avoid given implied choice when you don't mean it. E.g. 'Would you like to come and sit at the table and have your dinner?' Better to give a simple command. E.g. 'Come and sit at the table and have your dinner, thanks.'
Clear boundaries enforced calmly with consequences for the child in not complying. Make sure you are willing and able to enforce sanctions
Written rules agreed when the child is calm. E.g. Home Behaviour Contract

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