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Say These 6 Words to Break Free of a Nagging Child or Teen

Managing demanding kids requires parents to slow down to make sound decisions

Defiant children and teens will often try to catch you off balance with a pressing or even rediculous request. They artfully, and often deviously, manufacture a crisis mentality with a battering ram-lke flurry of demands to break down parents' ability to think clearly and to appropriately respond.

A key strategy for successfully parenting defiant children is slowing down emotions and being able to engage them with presence of mind. Defiant children will try to catch you off balance with a ridiculous request. If you respond by saying “Please Let Me Think About It”, this will help you slow down.

You may think, "This sounds great, but my kid won't stop hounding me--no matter what I say!" If you are thinking this, I really do hear you. You may be right! At the same time, this is about you giving yourself some time to calm down and collect yourself rather than just giving in and making spur of the moment decisions that you may later regret!

Here is a past example (names changed to protect anonymity) from my counseling practice: Stacey was Gretchen’s defiant fifteen-year-old daughter. Stacey had a manipulative way of making requests (e.g., asking to go a friend’s house just when Gretchen arrived home from work.) Gretchen called me one day ecstatic, saying, “Instead of folding to Stacey’s request to go to her friend’s, I realized how easy it was for me to say, ‘let me think about it.’” Gretchen later saw me in a counseling session and added that while Stacey did not like having to give her mother the time and space to make parenting decisions, the decisions ended up being better ones.

Dr. Jeffrey Bernstein is a psychologist with over 23 years of experience specializing in child, adolescent, couples, and family therapy. He holds a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the State University of New York at Albany and completed his post-doctoral internship at the University of Pennsylvania Counseling Center. He has appeared on the Today Show, Court TV as an expert advisor, CBS Eyewitness News Philadelphia, 10! Philadelphia—NBC, and public radio. Dr. Bernstein has authored four books, including the highly popular 10 Days to a Less Defiant Child (Perseus Books, 2006), 10 Days to a Less Distracted Child (Perseus Books 2007), Why Can't You Read My Mind? , andLiking the Child You Love, Perseus Books 2009).

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