Disobedient Children: Causes And How To Deal With Them

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A disobedient child may go against your wishes and use defiance to control a situation. Defiance is a common issue that the parents of many children and adolescents experience. However, dealing with a child’s emotions during their growing years is not easy.

Disobedient children may often throw temper tantrums and show aggression. Although this developmental behavior is common in children, it is important to correct them. The first step to resolving this issue is to analyze the triggers for such independent behaviors and then bring positive changes accordingly.

This post deals with the causes of disobedience in children and how to deal with them.

In This Article

Causes Of Disobedience

 There could be various reasons behind a child’s disobedience. Instead of aggressively dealing with it, you should understand the main cause to discipline the child correctly.

1. Refusals and disagreements

Disagreements and refusals would only drive them away from you

Image: IStock

If you do not allow your child to do anything and say ‘no’ most of the time, it creates resistance in them and may turn them rebellious. Constant disagreements and refusals would only drive them away from you, making them disobedient.

protip_icon Point to consider
When a child asks for something, it’s an opportunity to teach them the right ways to communicate appropriately and regulate their expectations and emotions – irrespective of the response you give (2).

2. Undefined boundaries

You might be setting boundaries for your children, but never explain the purpose behind them. Give reasons while you set healthy boundaries and regulations for your children. For instance, if you allow them to eat junk food only once a week, let them know the disadvantages of unhealthy food instead of only saying ‘you cannot have it.’

3. Constant labeling

Children who are often labeled with a tag take it into their stride. Suppose you label them as ‘arrogant,’ they might take it as their trait and start behaving the same. If a child is labeled as ‘best,’ they might think they can never go wrong. But when they are not at their best, it may impact their ego and lead to irrational behavior. Praising or scolding your child should not come with a label.

protip_icon Quick tip
Instead of labeling a child as “ a helpful child,” try saying that “you have been very helpful” or “your help means a lot.” This approach praises a child’s positive traits without limiting them based on their traits or behavior.

4. Family environment

Constant quarrels within the family could leave an ill impact on the growing years of a child. Is there too much yelling in your house? Do the elders respect each other? A negative environment gets etched on the adolescent minds, and eventually, they may turn disobedient.

Consequences Of Disobedience

Disobedience should be addressed at an early stage. Unchecked disobedient behavior may cause the child to develop the following personality traits.

1. Arrogance

Disobedience often culminates into arrogance.

Image: IStock

Disobedience often culminates into arrogance. You all sit together for dinner, but your child wants to have something different. If you don’t provide them, they may resort to anger.

2. Lying

When children do not want to listen, they will find several excuses to escape from the situation. In the bargain, they may start lying to fulfill their demands. Suppose a child wants a new set of color boxes, despite owning one. You refuse to buy, and they resort to lying.

3. Disrespectful

You tell your child not to drop water on the floor and find them giving you a defiant expression. If you have overlooked their disobedient behavior once or twice, they may turn a deaf ear and disrespect your warnings eventually.

4. Stubbornness

Excessive punishment often causes disobedience

Image: IStock

Excessive punishment often causes disobedience, which ultimately leads to stubbornness, especially in strong-willed children. Sometimes inflicting too much pressure also makes them aggressive and disobedient. If you scold children frequently, it makes them prone to throwing tantrums and become stubborn.

5. Hurtful

It is a common trait with the little ones. If they are hurt, they could become rough and not play nice with siblings or friends. They may resort to pinching or biting in annoyance if they don’t get what they want.

protip_icon Expert says
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) when your child is upset or angry, “Explain that it’s OK to feel mad sometimes, but not to hurt someone or break things. Teach them how to deal with angry feelings in positive ways, like talking about it (3).”

How To Deal With Disobedient Children?

Showing explosive anger on children is not the right solution. It might aggravate the issue, and the child might respond more disrespectfully. Here are a few ways to deal with disobedient children in a more appropriate manner (1).

1. Use your authority and give an explanation

Let them know the dos and don’ts of your disciplinary actions

Image: IStock

Your child’s misbehavior should not lead you to a war with them. Let them know the dos and don’ts of your disciplinary actions. Be flexible with those actions, and there is nothing wrong with being strict. You can be friends with your children but draw a line when it comes to discipline. If you don’t want them to do anything, let them know the reason. For instance, you are not allowing your child to ride a bike without a helmet, tell them because it could lead to injury.

2. Let them be accountable

If your child is repeatedly making the same mistake, it’s time for a warning. If the child is perpetually bullying their sibling every day, tell them they won’t be allowed to watch their favorite cartoon show for a week. Maintain your actions strictly so that they don’t take them for granted.

3. Keep consistent control over them

Do not allow bad behavior or tantrums, just because it’s holiday time and you want to let things be. If you don’t control it, they might consider it your weakness, and become non-compliant. It also becomes their habit to manipulate you. So, keep control over their wrong behavior at every stage.

4. Be calm but firm

Don’t lose your cool with your child, but be authoritative.

Image: IStock

Don’t lose your cool with your child. You have to act like a parent, not their sibling. Anger at all times may make the child rebellious. But at the same time, be authoritative. Authority should not be confused with anger. For example, if you want your child to arrange their toys in the cupboard, a polite tone works better than a commanding one. You can tell them, ‘keep your toys in the cupboard, then I’ll help you clean the room,’ instead of ‘keep your toys in the cupboard, else no TV.’

5. Empathize with them

You need to connect with them emotionally to judge their disobedience. Keep showering your love every now and then. Try to be a friendly parent. You can say, ‘don’t worry, you’ll be able to finish your homework’ or ‘take your time to finish your breakfast.’ By doing this, you empathize with them while getting the task done.

6. Give them a reason

Some children may get physical when annoyed. Tell them hitting may cause injury. Ask them how they would feel if someone hits them back, and they get hurt. Let them know that children with such behavior are not liked by all. If they have a habit of snatching their siblings’ things, ask them how they would feel if the same thing happens to them.

7. Reward them

Rewarding a child for their excellent behavior encourages them to get better with time. You go shopping, and you tell your children to play without fighting. When you come back, you see them at their best behavior. Give them their favorite ice cream or promise him a sleepover with a friend. You will find your children at their best every time.

protip_icon Quick fact
Reward need not always be tangible. Ideally, parents should give tangible and intangible rewards to their children. In most cases, praiseful words, a gentle pat on the back, or a hug, can tell a child that they are appreciated for their efforts.

8. Offer them a choice

If the child is adamant and refuses to listen, offer them variety. Give them a choice with limited results. For example, they need to eat vegetables but can do so either at lunch or dinner—it’s their call. It is a smart strategy that works on children and does your job.

9. Provide clear and sensible instructions

Instructions should not come with ‘ifs’ and ‘buts.’ Telling a child, they can go for a swim only if they manage to finish their homework may not serve the purpose. They might either manipulate you or lie to you that their task is done. Instead, make them aware of the rules to be followed. Stick to your instructions. If they do not follow, make them repeat it till they get the hang of it. Constant reminders with consequences often break their stubbornness.

Restrict yourself from labeling your children, even if it is done with positive intent. Children are complex, unique individuals accompanied by a lot of challenges in their growing years. They are gifted with unique traits, and we have to deal with them positively. Mold your little ones carefully and find them blossoming as they grow up.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How do you discipline a child who refuses to listen?

Building a positive bond with a child is vital to get them to listen and pay attention. Acknowledge their behavior and try to understand the reason behind their actions. Listen to their needs and come up with an amicable solution, set clear boundaries, pay compliments, appreciate their good behavior, and be consistent.

2. Is it right to give up on a disobedient child?

Giving up may seem appealing, but it is not the best course of action. Instead, one must comprehend the perspective of a rebellious child and propose solutions that will benefit both parties. Giving up can lead to negative consequences that are sometimes irreversible.

3. Is spanking an effective form of discipline for disobedient children?

Spanking children to discipline them may not be the right approach as, although it stops the disobedient behavior for the time being, it can instill fear without any long-term positive effect. Furthermore, it may normalize violence, leading to aggressive behavior in children in the future (4).

4. How can I balance discipline and positive reinforcement for my disobedient child?

You may reward and praise them for their good behavior and set up consequences beforehand, ensuring follow-up if they fail to behave. In addition, be patient, listen to their perspective, and provide reasons for your disapproval through clear communication and help them by consistently modeling good behavior.

5. How can I deal with my own frustration and emotions when my child is disobedient?

When dealing with a disobedient child, it is essential to remember temper tantrums and simple misbehaviors are typical in children. Take deep breaths and a couple of minutes to compose yourself. Although they may push you to your limits, try to reflect on your emotions before bursting out in anger and give firm instructions for them to follow. You may also seek the support of your partner, a family member, or a friend and have them take care of your child for a while so that you may collect your thoughts and have better communication with your child.

Disobedient children are often difficult to handle. But in the end, they are children who need your support and guidance. So try to understand them and determine the reason for their disobedience. It will help you find an effective solution to improve your child’s behavior. If your child disobeys you, address the causes early to avert it from causing issues, such as arrogance and lying. Remember, children learn from their elders, so lead by example and help them become responsible individuals.

Infographic: Tips To Discipline A Disobedient Child

Dealing with a child who refuses to listen to you can be challenging, especially while juggling work and home. We understand that, as parents, it can take a toll on your health and daily life, so this infographic has compiled the simple yet effective tricks and tips to discipline a disobedient child.

tips to discipline a disobedient child (infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Get high-quality PDF version by clicking below.

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Download Infographic in PDF version

Key Pointers

  • Children’s disobedience can be triggered by factors such as refusing to fulfill their demands, blaming without understanding, or negative influence.
  • A disobedient child may eventually become arrogant, disrespectful, or start lying without a conscience.
  • Try an empathetic approach and calmly explain the consequence of their words and actions while setting down some firm rules.

Master the art of handling stubborn children with expert advice in this enlightening video! Gain insights into managing challenging situations and fostering a positive atmosphere for your little ones.


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