What Do I Do Now? When Discipline Doesn’t Work

A child is obligated to listen to his parents and parents have the responsibility to enforce compliance. There can be times, however, when you’ve followed all the proper steps, and your child still refuses to listen and continuously acts in a defiant manner. This is not regular. It is natural for a child to seek to please his parents in most circumstances, (barring a power struggle or occasional extenuating circumstances.) However, if your child is constantly angry, revengeful, and intent on contradicting his parents in a spiteful manner, then there is a reason for concern. Something is triggering this underlying current of defiance. So, instead of repeating the same techniques without achieving desirable results, take a step back and examine the bigger picture to try to discover what may be causing this rebellious attitude.

A common reason why children act insolent is because they are merely mimicking a poor example – their very own parents’ relationship. When parents do not treat each other with proper respect and care, the child reflects this negative home atmosphere with disrespect, defiance and disobedience.

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Another possible trigger for a child’s non-compliance is a rocky parent-child relationship. He may be using non-compliance to normal requests as a means to vent pent-up anger. Parents should try to explore these negative feeling by asking themselves: Was there too much criticism, sarcasm or finger-pointing when the child was little? Was the child demanded to mimic his parents when he simply felt too different and wished to live his life according to his best abilities and standards? Or, simply, has the child been trained to disobey – has he gotten accustomed to not listening and getting away with it for too long? It takes a lot to repair a relationship gone askew. You need liberal doses of unconditional love, open communication, or regarding the last scenario. continual discipline to regain authority.

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You also need endless quantities of patience, time and iron willpower. But you will get there, And if you’ve ever wished to give your child a gift, a positive relationship is the very sweetest one you can possibly give your child.

If the parents’ model a good relationship between themselves and have a healthy parent-child relationship, then the child may be a particularly challenging child. At times, God has given the child – and his parents – the challenge of an extreme temperament, excessive anxiety, ADHD, ODD, etc. This means that the child is wired differently, and therefore responds differently. He first needs proper help to learn how to control his impulsivity and act like others his age. It is imperative to have the child properly diagnosed by a child study team, so that you can understand the best way to deal with this child. Proper guidance is the key to long-term success. While the child may need a different approach, he still can succeed.

Take a good hard look at the situation. Ask yourself, does this child have any circumstances in his life that cause him anguish? Is he maintaining average grades academically? Does he have friends? Are his basic needs of love, nurturing and bonding being met? How is his self-image? At times, a parent can be a detective and see a pattern emerging which will point in the direction that needs more exploring.

While parents may be tempted to think, “Oh, I’m managing the grind. At the end of the day, nothing too catastrophic happens because my kids don’t listen.” Parents must realize that this is not a matter of how the parents are managing, but rather how the child is managing! Teaching children to listen ultimately teaches them to obey all authority!


8 responses

  1. Parenting and discipline specifically can be so trying and it’s something that’s so important to a child’s development and the health and happiness of a family. SO many families don’t understand how important it is for a child to learn to listen and mind and how it affects the rest of their life and relationships.

    1. Thanks Christy for your beautiful comment! It’s quite sad to see how many families could be so much happier if the parents would re-evaluate their parenting skills.

  2. My oldest son is wired differently. He was a handful as a baby and still is to this day.

    1. We must be grateful for all that God has given us, even the challenging moments!

  3. My four-year-old drives me nuts every once in awhile (kids will be kids after all), but most of the time he still listens to me (thank goodness!). I’d like him to learn by example so whenever my Mum is around, I show him that even if I’m a grown-up, I’m still a daughter who knows how to respect her parent/s. 🙂

    1. That’s super! Children learn best from their parents example!

  4. I like the comment above that even when her mom is around she treats her well. Something to keep in mind.

    1. Definitely! I love it too!

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