With over twenty-two years of practice as a child, teen, and family psychologist behind me, I continue to be humbled by how complex we all are as human beings. Yet, when it comes to parenting difficult and defiant children and teens, I think we make it more complex than it needs to be. 

To help any defiant child or teen, keep the following points in mind and take positive action. I have seen over and over how defiant behavior can be significantly lowered in children and teens—usually in week or even less than a few days:

  • Stop nagging.
  • Listen, and I mean really listen, more to your child or teen than you talk to her.
  • Remember that understanding your child is just as important, if not more important, than loving him.
  • Check your ego at the door and stop taking your child's or teen's challenges so personally.
  • Catch him doing more things right than wrong.
  • Stop trying to be perfect as a parent. Remember the only perfect people are in the cemetery.

Be mindful that growing up IS different today, and the world is more complex and faster moving than when you were a kid. Give yourself some grace and cut yourself a break. 

Laugh, laugh, laugh. A comedian friend of mine, David Naster says it best, "You just have to laugh!"

For persistent problems, please see a qualified mental health professional. 

 Dr. Jeff is the author of 10 Days to a Less Defiant Child

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