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Defiance doesn’t need discipline
In the home that I grew up in children were constantly compared to horses. “You have to break the will of a child like you do a horse to get the respect that you want and need.” And to be honest it makes me cringe a little… okay maybe a lot because I don’t think children are like horses and I definitely don’t think you need to break their wills. That ideology is a post for a whole other day but let’s seriously talk about why kids don’t need to be broken and why defiance doesn’t need discipline.
Recently I received a phone call from a family member who lovingly agreed to watch another family members 3 babes. I received a lot of phone calls that week that centred around the struggle she was having on her parenting venture of an always work mom to being a stay at home mom of 3 littles. Many times when we talked there was an amount of irritation and upset in her voice talking about the struggle of dealing with a head strong, stubborn and defiant child. The complaint was that the full of spunk and high energy 3 year old was defying her in every way possible and she just didn’t know what to do.. The exasperated family member responded, “it’s driving me crazy. Spanking isn’t working. Yelling isn’t working. Nothing works. Being strict just brings more defiance than was being shown before. What do you do now??”
Does this sound like how things are going in your home some days?? Defiance doesn’t need discipline. It needs connection.
The answer almost sounds too good to be true and too simple, doesn’t it?? But did you know that the best way to beat defiance and any unwelcome behaviour is through connection??.
Now please don’t think in the example I have used that I am trying to knock this poor family member because I am not. Rather, I wanted to share that even the most seasoned of parenting veterans can find opportunities to add tools to their parenting toolbox.
My response to this dear family is this. If you want a child to behave and listen the first time you need to connect with them. When there is only one child to look after the answer is not to run away and sleep but to play and connect.
I know that your response has something to do with being tired, because what momma isn’t tired?! But, the excuse well I am tired ad need a break will not change the behaviour that you so desperately want to change. And please know dear momma I am definitely not dismissing your dear desires. I am tired too. I get it. Truly I do. I have three little pumpkins. And sometimes, just sometimes, spending time with kids can be downright exhausting especially when they aren’t sleeping through the night; but the answer isn’t to sleep during those times of quiet when you only have one child that needs active watching.
It almost seems counteractive or counterintuitive to recommend that you meet defiance with connection but that is what will make the difference and create the lasting change you want. So, rather than spending those quiet moments resting as the little one watches a show on television it is important to connect one on one with the child who is driving you crazy and defying your every move. That child is crying out for attention in the only way they know how. A quote we live by in our home is when a child feels bad they behave bad, when a child feels well they behave well.
So when that little person in your life is driving you bonkers and isn’t listening and may even be picking fights. Don’t withdraw. I know you probably want to. Instead stop cleaning. Stop working. Stop whatever it is that is distracting you from your precious little people. Get down on their level and engage with them in play. Make their woRk your woRk. (notice the R’s?? Babykins decided to help too!!) And you will find it will change the way the whole day goes.
Sometimes kids just need the reassurance that they are loved and special. It doesn’t take a long time to do but it does have to be intentional. Kids don’t need hours of your time to fill their buckets to get the attention and love that they need and truly deserve. You will be amazed how just 10 or 15 minutes of playing with your child and getting down to their level helps them to process all those big emotions they are feeling inside.
Big Girl this week has had some really trying days that have left me shaking my head. If I didn’t know the backstory for the behaviour and what was causing it I would probably be going a bit crazy. But her defiance and outright disobedience didn’t need discipline, it needed love and reassurance. So momma on those days when you are struggling with defiance don’t be so quick to put a child on the time out stairs. Stop and evaluate the situation and then ask yourself if maybe a little more love and connection are needed. Because oh puh-lease!! You’ve got this momma!!