If you have ever wondered how to deal with a defiant child as a parent, I totally understand. Those of us searching to find a little good behavior in the power struggle with defiant children need to stick together and support each other! Here are the best ways I have found to reinforce positive behavior next time you are parenting in one of those difficult defiant kids kinda situations.

How to parent a defiant child - defiant child shown screaming and sitting cross legged on floor
Defiant kids.

Disciplinary Action Or a Better Way?

You probably saw me at Target the other day. I was the mom with a kid kicking and screaming on the ground.

He wanted a Kit Kat at 10:32 am, and I wouldn’t allow him.

I knew this was going to happen.

I knew he was going to drop to the floor and throw a fit.

Because when you are parenting a defiant child this is part of life…

In that moment, my cheeks felt so hot with embarrassment that I wanted to make a mad dash for the fitting room, hide, and pretend this wasn’t my life.

Parenting a Defiant Child

Parenting a defiant child may be the hardest thing you’ll ever do. Each day you wake up and think today is the day your child cooperates, doesn’t complain, and does what you say. But it doesn’t really go that way.

Your day continues with power struggles, bedtime battles and not listening.

This breaks you down, and I understand exactly where you are coming from.

Before I had kids, I had all the patience in the world. Kids seemed all cute and cuddly and adorable.

Now, I struggle with anger as a mom.

Many days I feel tired and crabby and irritable.

Many days I feel not good enough.

This is parenting a defiant child.

You are tired from all the power struggles and not listening. Some days you secretly want to give them the iPad, a gallon tub of chocolate ice cream and call it a day.

But, mama?

You are doing some amazing work in the world of a little person right now.

So first, take a deep breath.


How to Raise a Defiant Child - boy sitting alone screaming
Everyone could use a deep breath right now!

5 Things to Remember About a Defiant Child

1. Your defiant child’s brain is healthy and thriving.

Did you know that your child’s opposition is a key sign of a healthy, thriving and growing brain? Your child is understanding that she is separate from you.

She is testing to understand boundaries and how the world works.

She is learning how to express emotions, and also, how to self-regulate those big and intense feelings.

2. Boundaries are a good thing with a defiant child.

As parents, we are here to set boundaries.

Firm boundaries.

Despite your child’s defiance and protesting and tears, do not fill your cup with self-doubt, embarrassment and negative self-talk. You are doing a good thing.

3. You have a child that thinks outside the box.

Kids who defy authority brainstorm ideas that are beyond the status quo. They have gusto and gall.

They break rules and make new ones.

At some point, your child is going to be an adult and she is going to find herself in a mess of a problem.

And you know what?

She’s going to have the wherewithal to find her way out, even when you are not there.

4. Peer pressure is easier to resist for strong-willed children.

Children with strong personalities are the ones more likely to stand up against a bully.

Your child is the one who will speak up when she sees someone cheating on a test.

They are the one who will go to a high school party and turn down the tiny blue pill and tell all her friends to do the same.

Defiant kids are strong kids that will change the world - Kids Activities Blog - girl smiling and looking at the camera
Defiant kids are strong kids who will change the world.

5. You’re raising a future leader.

Did you know that research shows defiant kids are more likely to grow into self-motivated, intelligent entrepreneurs?

Your child is going to put her defiant characteristics to good use someday soon.

She will buck the system, discovering new and innovative ways to do things.

6. Defiant kids require strong leaders.

When you are in the midst of your hardest parenting moment, don’t give up, mama.

Don’t buy the Kit Kat and don’t run for the fitting room at Target!

Set a boundary, stay strong, and know you are doing amazing work in the world of a little person right now. Let the little things go and know that one day your child is going to make one helluva person.

You’ll look back on those days at Target when your cheeks felt hot.

When everyone stared and watched.

When you stayed calm and set a boundary.

And you’ll remember that it was all worth it.

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Books to Help You Raise Your Strong-Willed Child

The more you learn and read on this subject, the more tools you will have in your toolbox when it comes to parenting challenges.  This can give you more confidence to take the actions you know you need to take!

Book title: You Can't Make Me by Cynthia Ulrich Tobias
Recommended Book: You Can’t Make Me

You Can’t Make Me (But I Can Be Persuaded) by Cynthia Ulrich Tobias

–>Buy it here

Turn conflict into cooperation….

Many parents suspect their strong-willed child is deliberately trying to drive them crazy. Difficult to discipline and seemingly impossible to motivate, these children present unique, exhausting, and often-frustrating challenges to the those who love them.

–You Can’t Make Me Book Summary
Book cover: Setting Limits with your Strong Willed Child
Recommended book: Setting Limits with Your Strong Willed Child

Setting Limits with Your Strong Willed Child by Robert J. MacKenzie, Ed.D.

–>Buy it here

Here is an essential manual for creating a positive, respectful, and rewarding relationship with a strong-willed child. Based on proven techniques and procedures, parents and teachers alike will welcome this book.

–Setting Limits with Your Strong Willed Child book summary
Book Cover: Raising Your Spirited Child by Mary Kurcinka
Recommended Book: Raising Your Spirited Child

Raising Your Spirited Child by Mary Sheedy Kuricnka, Ed.D.

–>Buy it here

Including real-life stories, this newly revised third edition of the award-winning best seller – voted one of the top 20 parenting books – provides parents with the most up-to-date research, effective discipline tips, and practical strategies for raising spirited children.

–Raising Your Spirited Child book summary
Book Cover: The New Strong Willed Child by Dr James Dobson
Recommended Book: The New Strong-Willed Child

The New Strong Willed Child by Dr. James Dobson

–>Buy it here

Dr. James Dobson has completely rewritten, updated, and expanded his classic best seller The Strong-Willed Child for a new generation of parents and teachers. The New Strong-Willed Child follows on the heels of Dr. Dobson’s phenomenal best seller Bringing Up Boys. It offers practical how-to advice on raising difficult-to-handle children and incorporates the latest research with Dr. Dobson’s legendary wit and wisdom. 

The New Strong-Willed Child is for parents needing help dealing with sibling rivalry, ADHD, low self-esteem, and other important issues. This audiobook is a must-listen for parents and teachers struggling to raise and teach children who are convinced they should be able to live by their own rules!

–Strong Willed Child book summary

More Parenting Strategies from Kids Activities Blog

What tips do you have when it comes to raising a defiant child? 

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