Delivering Discipline - Diffusing Defiance
Module three : Lesson two
Disciplining your child's defiance can be very challenging. I want to explore what defiance is and what your child needs in order to be more successful in those difficult situations. Defiance has a way of triggering us as adults. We feel like our authority is being questioned and often we feel a sense of lack of control, like we need to take over again, like we need to dominate the situation. Unfortunately, when your child is engaging in defiant behaviors, there is a good chance that they are already on the defense and as soon as we start to take further control, they're going to resist even more. Defiance really is counter-coercion. When children feel like they don't have a choice, they don't have a say, they need to hurry up, they need to listen right now, there's actually a physiological response in their brain to resist and to stop listening and to put space between the adult and them.
This is that defensive mindset. This is that flipped lid that we talked about in previous modules. As soon as your child is engaging in defiant behaviors, it is then practicing counter-coercion. Now, if we take a close look at that, that means that they have to feel coerced in order to engage in defiance. That means that we need to be monitoring, how are we speaking to this child right now? What is our body language? Are we standing above them and looking authoritative or are we on the same level as them? Have we connected with them or are we placing way too many demands for their brain to keep up with? There's a lot of little things that we need to be mindful of in order to successfully navigate through those defiant behaviors.
One of the best things that we can start doing besides the things that we've already discussed, is adding choices into the conversation and allowing children to feel like they are part of the conversation and they are relevant and they can add to whatever the situation is that we are already in. For example, if you find that your child is starting to engage in defiant behaviors, this is the perfect moment to begin monitoring how you're addressing them, how you're speaking to them in the moment, and then throw in some additional choices. If they're resisting doing their homework and it's turning into a power struggle, this is the perfect opportunity to say, "You know what, mate? Would you like to do your spelling first or your reading first? Would you like me to sit with you while you do your homework, or would you like to do it all by yourself?"
We can start providing choices that take attention away from the demand, but please notice that the demand is staying in place. We are still following through. We are just adding to the situation, and this is an opportunity for empowerment. And what will happen is as your child begins to search for an answer to your question, their resistance will start to drop and your connection will start to raise. Everything becomes so much easier and so much smoother when that connection and that empowerment is strong. The next time your child is engaging in defiant behaviors, I want you to be mindful of your body language, be mindful of how you're presenting the demand, and be sure to add those choices in there in order to increase their empowerment.