So you have a child that “ doesn’t listen?”

So you have a child that “ doesn’t listen?”

A child may be defiant and only listen or respond to one adult in a household. Behaviors, once a hearing issue and ODD have been ruled out can be modified.

First, step back and look at the environment with which you and your child are interacting. Note routine or lack of routine. Are there competing personalities, parenting styles, inconsistent limits or even examples of sibling favoritism happening? All of these things can promote defiance in order for a child to gain some control of their external environment.

A sibling sees a brother or sister treated differently. Admittedly, we cannot always treat everyone exactly the same, that’s reality. That said, limits should be based on safety, ability and circumstance which are objective. Sibling rivalry is natural, it need not be promoted. It breeds insecurities if extreme and can stunt individuality.

Celebrating differences is an approach that supports varied talents.

Are you presenting a generally united front as parents? Discuss differences and prioritize sticking points. Example: One parent thinks table manners are important. One does not want to prioritize manners. Is this an issue or something that can be a compromise as a topic with an agreement to disagree. Strict manners when out to dinner, casual attention to manners at home?

Children sense division and will use it to their advantage.

Look objectively ( a challenge) at how sexist your household may be. Cutlural influences may come into play. The role of males/ females as well as children/ adults differ. A girl may be allowed to do or say things that a boy may not and vice versa. Are there concrete reasons for this or can changes be made to have more equitable household rules?
Think of defiance, preferential hearing or minor aggressions as energy that can be redirected. It’s easier to redirect energy than to create energy. These actions which can be perceived as negative, can be turned around.

Know your child. Where are they intellectually? If age appropriate encourage your child to reflect on their actions. Explain consequences of, for example, not putting things away when done. No use for awhile.
Include a child in making decisions, giving no more than 2 acceptable choices.

When a child is bossy, offer verbiage that can be substituted. Acknowledge that playing with others won’t happen if playmates aren’t enjoying play. This is a life skill. The energy you’re redirecting can fuel a leader. Negotiation, conflict resolution, collaboration, listening, social influence toward the achievement of a goal are all very important skills.

Defiance can be turned into confident delegation. Learning to reflect on actions brings thoughtfulness. Interpersonal skills necessary for the future, “soft skills” are in short supply and high demand. Start now and equip your child for the future.

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