There is no question that your child is their own person. They have a strong personality and have always had a sense of what they want to do. If someone tries to get in their way, they can become aggressive or even violent.
As a parent, it’s difficult to know how to handle things when your child challenges your authority or the authority that others have, but it’s necessary to take steps to stop this behavior early. If your child continues to do whatever they want and to challenge authority, they could end up in trouble with the law down the road.
Why do some children and teenagers fight authority?
There can be many reasons, and all of them should be addressed. Some children react because they are seemingly controlled by their parents. For example, there may be many rules in the home that their friends don’t have, so when they get the opportunity to act out, they will. In other cases, children may be suffering from health conditions such as ADHD, anxiety or depression, which can make them struggle with their behavior.
It’s important to identify triggers and to find out what you can do to help your child stay on the right path. However, you also need to know that the world isn’t going to go out of its way to avoid making your child angry.
How do you handle a defiant child?
Start with the basics. Don’t get emotional. Your child may be acting out, but you need to keep a cool head. Don’t personalize what they say or do when they’re angry. Instead, focus on whatever the issue is, whether it’s stealing, failing to do homework or hurting someone, and follow through with intended punishments.
You also need to teach your child to think about why rules are in place. Children who act against rules are usually reacting to them rather than making a deliberate choice. They need to weigh the consequences of their behaviors, which is not something children inherently understand. Talk to them about how their actions affect others and their own lives, so they know that breaking rules comes with consequences. Doing this at a younger age, and sticking to it, will help prevent more serious issues in the future.
If your child is struggling, do what you can to help. If you’re at a loss, then reach out to a therapist. If your child continues to act out and gets into trouble with the law, then you will need to start looking into your legal options.