Do you ever find yourself wondering, “When will this child stop defying me and start doing what I ask?”
“I won’t do it!”…“You can’t make me!”…“I’m not going!”
It can be incredibly frustrating, not to mention exhausting, dealing with a young child or toddler who finds it necessary to challenge your every request, act in a defiant manner, lose their temper, and be generally disruptive or annoying.
Parents oftentimes find themselves drained as they come up against this behavior, and wind up feeling hopeless about how to handle the situation. They might also start worrying about what the future holds for such a strong-willed child. The good news is there is help in dealing with defiance in young kids—and the solutions are easier than you may think.
If your child can’t calm himself, setting limits for him to work through his rage can help. The point is to not jump on the crazy train with him.
Many parents want to know why their toddler or young child is so difficult.
“Why can’t my child be more like my niece who’s so pleasant and calm?”
“Why does my son have to be the one who is always saying no and acting so angry?”
It’s normal to want an answer to why your child is the one who’s always acting out and hard to manage, and there may be concrete reasons for his behavior.
It’s important to take into account that young children have very little control in their day-to-day lives. If you think about it, most kids float through their days with most decisions already made for them: when they wake, when and what they eat, what they will wear, when they will do chores or play, and finally, what time they go to bed each evening.
For many kids this isn’t a problem; they ride the wave of parental control without incident, some even enjoying having decisions made for them. Other kids, especially those who have strong personalities and definite opinions, find this level of “control” confining and annoying. What better way for a young child to express his displeasure than to habitually refuse to listen or to be argumentative?
Young kids and toddlers have a limited vocabulary and become frustrated when they can’t articulate what they want or how they’re feeling. They’re learning how to communicate with parents and teachers, so it makes sense that anger, defiance and irritability may be the only route they know to take when feeling overwhelmed and out of control. Another reason for a child’s defiance can simply stem from the strong personality they were born with. All of us can probably identify at least one strong-willed person (maybe even ourselves?) in our family tree.
When looking at your young child, it’s important to understand that for some, this period of defiance is just a phase that they will pass through as they mature. Other kids may meet the criteria for Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), which is a persistent and frequent form of defiant behavior.
Examples of ODD include any time a child has a pattern of being angry and irritable, argumentative or defiant along with displays of vindictive behavior. These characteristics can show up in a child who easily loses their temper, is unusually touchy or annoyed, and is often angry and resentful of those around him.
In addition, the child with ODD will argue with authority figures, refuses to comply with rules or requests and will annoy others on purpose, all the while blaming others for his behavior.
When you read this description, you may be thinking, “My child does all of that!” In fact, you’d be correct in noting that all children at some point or another probably engage in these kinds of behaviors. The key here, though, is whether or not your child has a pattern of displaying such behavior on a regular basis towards those around her, as opposed to occasionally refusing to do chores, teasing her younger brother sometimes, or being angry at you in the moment for getting called out for bad behavior.
While a child with Oppositional Defiant Disorder does act out on a more regular basis, as opposed to a child with simply a difficult temperament, parents should generally take the same approach to handling the behavior.
Below are 5 things not to do when dealing with a defiant or “difficult” child.
The most crucial first step you can take when dealing with a defiant young child is to not lose your cool. I know this is easier said than done, and can be incredibly challenging for any parent who’s going up against a screaming, uncooperative child! But the primary point to keep in mind when this happens is this: You are the adult and you are modeling how to act appropriately in a difficult situation for your young child. Defiant kids often lack resources for knowing what to do next and are looking to you for guidance. There can be a number of reasons why your child is acting out, some that you (or even your child) may never be able to fully understand, but the bottom line is that in that moment of rage, they don’t know what to do. This teachable moment can allow your child to truly learn how to respond when experiencing a full-blown emotional crisis. Some useful responses for your young child might be:
“We don’t yell. Please stop.”
“You can’t talk to me like that. Stop now or you will need to sit by yourself.” (If your child is old enough and it’s appropriate for them to sit alone.)
This can also be a good time to teach your child some calming techniques that can help them regain control. Showing a young child how to stop, count, and breathe involves explaining to your child when she is calm how to stop herself in her tracks by physically sitting down, closing her eyes and slowly breathing in and out, all the while counting to ten, however many times it takes for the crisis to pass. Practicing this regularly with your child can allow her to have a tool ready when the crisis hits. Note however, that for some kids this will not work, in which case you will need to move to the next step.
There’s a reason why the saying “Misery loves company” makes sense. Many times when children are defiant, they want everyone around them to experience their pain as well. The important thing is to not let them pull you into their momentary misery. For some kids, upping the ante and getting everyone in the family involved in their personal drama is extremely satisfying for them and serves to reinforce future outbursts.
If your child can’t calm himself, setting limits for him to work through his rage can help. The point is to not jump on the crazy train with him. Secure a safe spot for him to go when outbursts occur and guide him there. If your child is old enough and you think it’s safe to do so, you can walk into another room and give him or her some time to calm down. Some things to say include:
“I understand you’re upset. Can you calm down so we can talk?”
“Since you won’t stop yelling I’m leaving the room until you calm down.” (If your child is old enough and it’s appropriate for you to leave the room.)
“When you’re ready we’ll talk, but not until you get ahold of yourself.”
Since defiant kids often have a hard time taking responsibility for their actions, it’s important to tell them your expectations (“We don’t hit our sister”) and provide consequences for them upfront. Try to consistently reinforce them, all the while pointing out that they are ultimately in charge of their behavior. In the moment when the behavior is happening, you can let him know there will be a consequence of some kind. Then, after things have calmed down, you can follow up and implement an appropriate one. (“Since you hit your sister, there will be no TV tonight.”)
By consistently not letting your child off the hook, he knows you mean business, that you care enough to hold him accountable, and that there are boundaries in your home that shouldn’t be crossed. Even though your child may rage and yell in the moment, ultimately this provides him with a sense of security. This may not necessarily stop his defiance at this point in his development, but it will prevent it from growing into a more severe problem as he gets older.
Too often when a child has a difficult temperament or a full blown Oppositional Defiant Disorder, parents fast forward to the worst case scenario possible, imagining all sorts of gloomy forecasts for their child’s future. This is easy to do when your child rarely seems happy, is often irritable, and has unrelenting behavior. As hard as it is though, try to be mindful of the here and now and what your child needs from you in this moment. When you find yourself worrying that your child is going to end up unemployed and living under a bridge because he talks back so much and won’t take no for an answer, try to ground yourself and move on to the next step.
Parenting a defiant child is likely one of the most difficult tasks any parent will face. It’s hard, it’s tiring, and it can be depressing at times, which is why it’s so important to remember to find things about them that are loveable, kind, and sweet, even if it may seem like a stretch on some days. Accepting one’s child doesn’t mean excusing bad behavior, but rather acknowledging that they experience the world differently than many of us. Too often parents become so entangled with the daily struggles of parenting a child who behaves like this that the goodness that exists within them (and it’s in there, even if you have to dig deep) gets lost. Actively search out examples on a daily or weekly basis that confirm not the worst in your child, but the best. These can be instances when your son was kind to his sister for one full day, or your daughter said “thank you” instead of giving you a rude answer. It can come in the form of them putting away their dishes on their own or not arguing with you or blaming others. Point out to your child that you noticed by saying, “I like how nicely you answered me. Thank you.” Or “Thank you for not losing your temper just now.” Remember, it’s the behavior that you may not like, not your child him or herself.
A final point to keep in mind is that children with these personality traits may not be the easiest to live with while they are at home, but it is exactly these types of kids who can grow up and change the world. Everyone agrees that a calm, sweet child is easy to raise, but those traits, while admirable, may not be the ones that stop injustice, forge new ways of thinking, or uncover the unfairness and inequity of the world we live in. Often it’s the very qualities in our children that make us crazy—the stubbornness, the defiance, the anger—that are not only useful, but are necessary for a person who wants to make society a better place. That idea of not giving up, so annoying now, can propel our children to greatness as adults. When we look throughout history at who has changed the world, it has rarely been the meek or the quiet, but rather those who charged through difficulties, wouldn’t take no for an answer, and sometimes had to get angry to bring about change. When you combine firm, loving, consistent boundaries together to form a parenting style in which to deal with your defiant young child, you are laying the groundwork towards helping them take responsibility for their temperament while also honoring who they are as a person. This gives you both the opportunity to be the best that you can be, now and in the future.
How to Discipline Young Kids Effectively: 4 Steps Every Parent Can Take
Young Kids with ODD: Is It Oppositional Defiant Disorder or Just Bratty Behavior?
Empowering Parents Podcast: Apple, Spotify, Google, Stitcher
Dr. Joan Simeo Munson earned her Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Denver. She has worked with incarcerated individuals, families, adolescents, and college students in a variety of settings, including county and city jails, community mental health centers, university counseling centers, and hospitals. She also has a background in individual, group, and couples counseling. Dr. Munson lives in Colorado with her husband and three energetic children. She currently has a private practice in Boulder where she sees adults, couples and adolescents.
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I wanted to say to the author of this article thank you so much for what you said. You’ve given me a different perspective to look at my son‘s behavior.
I really really appreciated the benefits that you showed this type of behavior could have on my son when he’s an adult. I do feel he is a change maker...there’s something about him that is remarkable.I know most people probably say that about their children... my son is the real deal..., but he is a pain in the butt as well, lol.
Thank you for showing me how these personality traits can grow into an amazing adult and do great things.
A lot of people write these types of articles that focus on what’s wrong with your child or what disorder they might have. By reminding me of the amazing things that are possible with his personality.... it gives me clarity and insight On the best way to help him use these as a strength instead of a problem.
From the bottom of my heart as I wanted to thank you for this!!!
much love and appreciation for you!
I appreciate the article. I'm struggling to figure out what is going on with my eight yo and HOW I can help him. He IS a sweet boy. However, lately, when it is time to sleep, he has has shown some defiance. We have a bedtime routine in place. Lately, he runs around and away from us, leaves his bed constantly, runs around like he wants to play. It's clear he is tired. He starts his bedtime routine at 7:00. He's been avoiding his sleep time and not sleeping till 10 to 12. We just don't know what to do. He will only sleep if we stay with him. He also wakes up in the middle of the night and comes in our room. Any suggestions? Thank you!
Thank you for reaching out to Empowering Parents. Our main focus is children over the age of 5 because they have usually have developed enough that our concepts will work with them. We have a few articles about younger children you may find helpful,
Just so simple and clear, just what I needed to read to help guide me with parenting my defiant young boy.
Thank you, I found your report to be just what I needed to read after a tough week and finally realising that defiance is a core component of my current struggle with parenting my 4 year old.
Wow! Loved this article and could relate on many levels. Definitely helped me decipher between what we can work with as parents and signs for something bigger. You have given me a great sense of hope and that we're on the right path with some great advice.
I have a 6 year old son with ODD who has a great dificult playing rule games. He doesnt like loosing and ends up yealing and loosing control.
1) I would lije to know if it exists a book or story to read with him about accepting rules al coping with them.
He also takes every situation personaly, as if it was done to him on purpose. For example when there is not yogurt or any kind of thing he would like to have.
2) What can I tell him in thise situations? I try to explain him this are things that happen to everyone, not just him, and to try to look for a solution, like having something else to drink. But it doesnt seem to work.
He had a great trouble goong to school. Teachers told me he wants to do something else than coping with activities. What can I do about it? He says he is the worst student and cant learn. He has very little or none self esteem. That makes me feel pity for him.
We live in Argentina and I love your articles. They helped me and my husband. Our child startes visiting a therapist.
Looking foward for your ansewer.
I have a 4 year old granddaughter who is very defiant. She won't mind her mother to do the simple things such as spit when she is brushing her teeth. She come home from school all excited and she just jump and jump up and down, run through the house, flips on the bed, and hug everyone. When she takes a bath, she act out how the teachers talks to kids in the classroom. She gets so loud when doing it, that we have to calm her down. When she stands in the mirror she do the same thing. I noticed one night I told her to do something, she stopped whatever it was and then she started acting out what happened in school.
Do you think she needs to be on a ADHD medication?
I have a 2 yr old son who has temperament issue... i consulted this to his pedia and she advised me to bring him to a neuro-dev.so i can get proper ways to prevent and stop my son fr.being defiant... at present i'm observing him until he'll get well fr.his coughs and colds as his pedia's advised.if he gets well and still doing/showing the same attitude that would be the time to go to the next step.for now i still have to give my son a chance while treating his colds.just the same everytime he ask for something that i cnt give he will start to do his tantrums,throwing away his toys,hurting us,by pinching us hard while crying,even his 6 yr old sister is getting afraid, worrying to get hit again by his brother. And if we get away fr.him he will get more wild and very angry. And the worst is that he will hurt himself too esp.when he failed to hit us. I admit i lose my cool and patience maybe bcoz of my health problems (mild vertigo and lateral epicondenitis on my left elbow).one reason for him to cry until he gets angry is that when he ask me to carry him that i cannot able to do it, what i will do is to sit beside him but no effect. But blv me i'm trying my best not to lose my patience everytime we are in this situation.
Please give me an advise miss rebecca with this matter. I want to help my son so he can improve and get free from this kind of behavior bcoz i dont want my son to grow up with this attitude. So that when he reach the age of 4 and start his schooling i'd be free from worrying especially he will encounter other children and i don't want my son to hurt or fight with other children. Please help me thru your advise. Thank you.
Godbless and more power!
Looking forward -- mrs. trono (phils.)
okay first blog I've ever went on I need help! my 8 year old son lives with me (father) and step mom. his mom left four years ago and he remembers the drugs and abuse from her side. so he's damaged in that sense. Now my girlfriend of four years has been there to help and lives with us. we have a 2year old and her daughter is 4.
my girlfriend is only 24 so she doesn't understand the things talked about here with how to deal with defiante. but she is very argumentative and gets nasty. so not going into details she has jeopardized my son and her relationship. by doing things an adult shouldn't with a kid. as far as treat him like an adult and bother where she gets annoyed bad with him.
Any ways I've always seen problems but now my son when told not to do something like yell at little brother. He always has an explanation. I tell him to listen to what we say and I don't want a debate. he cries he says we hate him he gets real panic and upset. this morning his little sister had his school supply pouch. her mother gave it to her cause they drove me to work kids cranky in morning. so my son started crying cause we gave his sister his supplies. worried he won't have it crying how is he Gona get it back. when my girlfriend clearly stated he will have it before he leaves for school.
now he acts up more when I'm home cause in my eyes he likes to see me and her argue (well more her). I disagree with screaming at kids and in front of them with partner. now he will cry over everything say we hate him and simply doesn't listen without an argument or debate as to what happened or why he did it. the age difference between siblings I see bothers him. Because he always has to play with them.
but then he gets mad about it and blows them off. he seems confused hurt he seems as tho something is wrong.
When I'm home he does this but is up my ass.
like this morning whole car ride to work was a debate and crying for over a supplie pouch. my girlfriend said as soon as I got out for work there was no mention about the pouch.
or when he does what she says when I'm not home and when I'm home go against her or gets his crying everyone hates me fit.
I guess my question is I need help with structure. and that also goes for me. trying to teach or raise my girlfriend as well as kids and her way is best. when in fact I've told her mnt times what I just read in this article I know most of that. she doesn't think it's right so we have no structure in this house.
what do I do and is my kid just acting out or is this a stage. Rebecca I need advice.
I hear how
concerned you are for your daughter, and the aggressive behavior she is
showing. If you are worried that there might be something wrong, I
encourage you to voice your concerns to your daughter’s doctor. Because
s/he has the ability to directly observe and interact with your daughter, her
doctor will be in a better position to determine if there are any underlying
issues which might be contributing to your daughter’s behavior. In
addition, many young children are aggressive at this stage in their
development, because they tend to have a low tolerance for frustration, poor
impulse control, and few appropriate coping skills to use when they become
upset. That doesn’t mean that you cannot address it, though, and you
might find some helpful information in another article by Dr. Joan, https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/hitting-biting-and-kicking-how-to-stop-aggressive-behavior-in-young-children/.
I wish you and your daughter all the best moving forward; take care.
hear you. It can be so draining when you are not able to sleep nor spend
quality time with your other children due to the attention required of one
child. It can also be frustrating when you are doing everything “right”,
yet the behaviors persist. I’m glad to see that you are working with
resources available to you locally, such as therapy and her doctor, and I
encourage you to continue doing so. For assistance locating other
possible supports in your community, try contacting the http://www.211.org/ at 1-800-273-6222. I also
recommend https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/the-lost-children-when-behavior-problems-traumatize-siblings/ with your other children to keep them safe from their
sister’s aggression. I recognize how challenging this must be for you,
and I wish you and your family all the best moving forward. Take care.
Thank you for your
question. Aggressive behavior in young children is quite common, as young
children tend to have a low tolerance for frustration, poor coping and
communication skills as well as poor impulse control. As a result, many
young children turn to aggressive behaviors, such as biting, hitting or
kicking, as a way to meet their needs. This is not to say that parents
cannot address these behaviors when they occur. Dr. Joan Simeo Munson
offers some tips on how to handle aggression in her article, https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/hitting-biting-and-kicking-how-to-stop-aggressive-behavior-in-young-children/.
Our son has an IQ of 121we recently found out ...he is four. Just turned four, although his traits of this are very much there, and rather exhausting at this point. It is not frequently, Could the reasoning behind these extremely outlandish behavior be due to higher understanding, (No logic in his mind to sleep if not tired, or respect an adult that has not respected him) .he states..things iv never spoken or taught him. Or is it possible that this ODD, can be borderline? Not a daily thing but holds signs within Everyother day, ? And what be recommended when starting school for children with things like this? Is it treated as a main behavior issues, (non violence episodes) Or actually worked with? The private school he was excepted too is far too expensive, (10,000 a year) as 27 year old non married mother (first child) im unsure if public schools deal with these things, properly. .
Thank you for your
questions. Defiance is common in many young children, as it is part of
their developmental processes at this age to test limits, and to assert oneself
as an individual. You make a great point that many of these behaviors can
also seem illogical from an adult perspective as well. If you are
concerned that there may be an underlying issue contributing to your son’s
behavior, like a diagnosis, I recommend checking in with his doctor.
Because his doctor is able to interact with and observe your son directly, s/he
will be in a better position to assess him and rule out any contributing factors
to his behavior. As for your concerns about school, it can be helpful to
talk with teachers and school officials directly about how they typically
address misbehavior in the classroom, and to work together with them as a team
to help your son to succeed. Dr. Joan has some tips which you might find
useful in her article https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/young-kids-acting-out-in-school-the-top-3-issues-parents-worry-about-most/.
Please let us know if you have any additional questions.
Thank you for writing in. I can hear how concerned you
are not only for your stepson, but also your 2 year old and pets as well.
If you have not already done so, I encourage you to check in with your
stepson’s doctor about his destructive behavior and constant chewing.
Because his doctor has the ability to directly observe and interact with your
stepson, s/he would be in a much better position to rule out any possible
underlying issues as well as offer any necessary follow up referrals in your
community. In the meantime, I also recommend limiting the amount of time
that your stepson is left alone or unsupervised with your 2 year old or your
dog in order to keep everyone safe. I understand how challenging this can
be, and I wish you and your family all the best moving forward. Take
TiahLyon TiahLyon Tiah,I can't speak to anyone else's experience, but as an ADD teen I was put on Ritalin and a year later, my doctor also prescribed Prozac. I have an ADHD son (almost 12) and an ADD/OCD/ODD stepdaughter (14). We have struggled with these conditions our entire lives. I've known he has the condition from the moment he turned 1. I suspected my stepdaughter did at almost 9, a year after I met her.
We have cycled through Adderall, Focalin, and Concerta, with supplemented meds such as Zoloft, Intuniv, Risperidone, among others. I have recently returned to medication after 17 years off.
The most important thing to remember is that there is no cure or quick fix for these conditions. There is no 'growing out' of it. For many, such as myself who went off the meds, you can come to a point where you have developed good coping mechanisms and techniques sufficient enough to go off meds. But there is always times where things can get tough again. It is definitely okay to go back on meds, but it is definitely a decision that should be discussed with doctors at length before making a final decision.
The second thing to remember is that there isn't a single, proven effective treatment that works for everyone. Each person's brain chemistry and DNA is slightly different, even in full siblings. If your son does not have ADD as well, Prozac or something similar may be the way to go until you are able to talk to him in a logical way. ODD is behavior based more than brain chemistry, though it may also be a contributing factor. We deal with our girl differently because she refuses to take her medications and she is older. It is a bit easier to have a conversation with a teen than a young child.
Talk with your son's doctor at length about your concerns. If you are not comfortable with the results of that conversation, get a second or third opinion. Never be afraid to question the doctor about medication concerns. When they added Risperidone, I wouldn't let him take it because I was confused why a schizophrenia med was being prescribed. After talking with his doctor, I started him on it. For us, the combination of meds finally started to work.
If he does have ADD or ADHD, there is also a new genetic test I had them perform for my son which helps determine which medications are the most beneficial based on his DNA. Ask your doctor about it. I don't remember what it is called.
ODD is a real stretch for me...I don not agree that it is a disorder that requires a medical or psychological evaluation. That is oversimplification of a behavior dysfunction. you are comparing this disorder to real and emotional disorders that may or may not be symptomatic to previous events or situations. Most, if not all the cases we see have allot to do with the behavior that a child does or does not develop when he/she is a young infant/adolescent.
to give this a title has not turned this into a professional diagnosis, and, takes responsibility out of the hands of the parents aND child to fix this...get people on their team, and be about problem solving...
As for the rest of the article, there are some good points that merit parents attentions.
T hanks for providing them for our families
Family Education Program Facilitator and Coordinator
you for sharing-we always appreciate feedback from our readers! I’m so
glad that this article, and others, has proved to be helpful to you on your
parenting journey. While I do not know of any specific forums for parents
with kids with ODD, you are welcome to post comments, thoughts, and questions
on our articles and blogs here on Empowering Parents. You might also
contact the http://www.211.org/ at
1-800-273-6222 to see if there are any supports or resources available to you
locally in your community. Other readers might have additional
information as well. Take care, and I hope you will let us know if you
have any other questions.
You are correct in saying that she understands much of what you tell her, but it is the 1-year olds job to push the limits to see what she can get away with! Do not assume that she understands the intricacies or right and wrong just yet (I'm guessing you know this) because she is too young to fully grasp it just yet. But at this stage in her development she is trying to learn these differences and everything you are doing is exactly correct. The smiling and amusement is simply her way of saying she thinks this is fun and a game. Because she is so young redirecting her when she is aggressive, while saying a firm, yet calm "No" is your best best. Ignore the whining, temper tantrum, aggressive behavior while it occurs and continue to redirect her to something amusing, such as a pile of stuffed animals, blocks, a toy, or a book. You're doing a good job and setting good examples for her already.
i live with my best friend she has a 4 yr old daughter that is uncontrolable she screams and throughs her stuff all over her room tells her mum she hates her and that she'll kick her and punch her. She tells her mother how its going to be she does not listen it is to the point where it becomes a game for her. She will not lay down and sleep, she will constantly get up within seconds of laying her down at this very moment it is 2hrs since she has tried to get her to bed.
Please give us some advice because my friend is at the end of her straws, she is a great hard working single mum that gives her daughter everything she she can give and loves her dearly i see my friend hurting so much i had to write in to ask for help.
I can hear your frustration. I’m sure it must be very
challenging to watch your roommate struggle with addressing her daughter’s
behavior. I understand your desire to help your roommate out. However, our
purpose on Empowering Parents is helping people who are in a direct parenting
role develop more effective ways of addressing their child’s behavior. The
coaching and advice we are able to offer people outside that role is limited.
We do have several articles on our website that may be beneficial to share with
your roommate. Two that may be particularly helpful are The Homework Battle: How to Get Children to Do Homework & Hitting, Biting and Kicking: How to Stop Aggressive Behavior in Young Children. I
hope your roommate is able to find some useful information in these articles.
Best of luck to you all moving forward. Take care.
My 8 year old son seems to be having some pretty upsetting moments in the school setting. The teachers and staff members are using terms such as defiance, angry, "stealing" etc. Eventually, in the midst of emotional meltdown, he ends up yelling at them, and running down the hallway awayMore from the situation and refuses to do what he is asked. Although my son displays a very strong personality, I am not having the same issues at home and neither do other family members or child care minders. He has consequences for his unacceptable behaviour and may pout or stomp when they are given, but he generally accepts that this is the way it is at the moment.. After reading some of the notes sent home in my son's planner, I get the impression that the smallest things are blown out of proportion (ie. he took magnets from the classroom to play with them on his way to the computer lab. I don't see anything malicious here but a child who wanted to play with magnets.) Now he is a person who "stole" and can't be "trusted". I don't condone taking things without permission and certainly he should be spoken to and appropriate discipline given. I don't condone the label they are giving my child. I guess what I am trying to say is that I don't agree with the approach they are taking and the labeling they have given my son. I believe the outbursts he is having and the angry moments that escalate into an erupting volcano are avoidable. Having said this though, I am second guessing myself and wondering if I am missing a bigger picture. :(
It does seem like your son is behaving in ways that are developmentally normal, but also annoying to the school and disruptive to the rest of the class. First, I would call a meeting with his teacher to discuss a few things: what are your son's best qualities? CanMore they talk about them? Can they list what they see as his areas that need the most improvement? How are they defining his poor behavior and what are the school's rules for discipline (and by this I mean, if he's taking things that don't belong to him, how do they handle this with all kids in a way that the child receives an appropriate consequence rather than being labeled); What are the teacher's goals for your son for the rest of this school year? Be up front with your son's teacher that you feel he is being singled out and labeled and reaffirm your commitment that you want him to succeed in school and that you are working with him at home to act appropriately at school. What can she do to help him succeed? How has she handled kids in similar situations in the past? How can the two of you work together to help your son be the best student he can be? Is there a specific place your son can retreat to in the classroom when he is feeling out of control, angry, or frustrated? Can the teacher have him be more engaged in the classroom as a helper or a leader so that excessive energy is channeled properly? Try hard not to be defensive and to really listen to the teacher's responses, keeping in mind that your goal is to create the best environment for your son.
At home create a Good Behavior Chart in which your child receives a sticker for each day that he behaves at school. Let the teacher know you are doing this and perhaps she can encourage him at school. After so many stickers he should receive a reward, such as a trip to the library, special time with you, or a favorite DVD on the weekend. This is difficult for a parent, but your goal should be to work as an ally with your son's teacher so that he finishes his year under the best circumstances possible. If the teacher is unresponsive or defensive, your next step is to have a meeting with the principal.
My son turns 4 next week and we have been having some pretty big battles with him. I am thankful that he does not act out at school or with his caregiver, but he is really being pretty tough with me and his father. He has been having raging tantrumsMore over the smallest things. I try really hard to stay calm and talk him out of him it. He simply won't listen when he is screaming and I can't get through to him. I try time out, but he does not stay in time out and will throw any toy that is in his way. I end up taking away toys and putting them in time out. By the time he is calmed down I end up having almost all his toys put up in time out. I am running out of ideas.
I know it seems logical that you should be able to try to talk your son out of a tantrum, but children this age are not logical, and when they are in a tantrum, they are simply not capable of listening to anyone. Start by creating a rules chartMore with you and your son coming up with a list of house rules for your family. Next to each rule, list what the consequence will be when he breaks it. For instance, you can write "No tantrums" and for the consequence, "Sit alone for 4 minutes". Go through each rule and each consequence with your son so that he understands what will happen if he breaks a rule. Hang the rule chart where he can see it. If he gets up from time out, calmly lead him back to his time out chair and say, "You are in time out" and leave. When your son shows good behavior, praise him, saying, "I like how nicely you put your toys away". Consider a "Good Behavior Chart" at home where your son is allowed to place a sticker for each day that he shows nice behavior. After a predetermined number of stickers he earns a reward, which can be a special outing with mom or dad, a trip to the library, or an extra book before bed.
It's not uncommon for a child to be good outside the home and have meltdowns with parents. It's likely that at the end of a long day he is tired and becomes undone fairly quickly. Make sure he goes to bed the same time each night, has limited access to videos/television, and a regular bedtime routine involving bath, reading, tuck in time. Spend quality time together during the week and on week-ends. Remember that tantrums are a phase, albeit a difficult one, but that they will end soon enough.