I am struggling with a tween who often says no to my requests. She is a good girl most of the time, but she will be disrespectful to me, and I have no idea what appropriate/related consequences to give her when she tells me “no,” and then in essence dismisses me by looking back down at her book, ipod, etc.
I try to remain calm, but when I tell her this is a warning, and that she will have a consequence for not obeying, she will look at me and ask what it is. And normally say, “Oh well, no big deal,” and still not obey me. I also realize that hormones are playing a part in her behavior, but she cannot say no to me when I ask her to do something. HELP!!! Normally she will apologize later that night when we are praying together, but she still didn’t do whatever I asked.
Jim’s response: It’s so great that after an encounter like that your daughter will apologize and pray with you. It shows that she respects you and feels remorse for what she’s done. This is actually rather uncommon, and you can feel grateful for this – even affirm it in your daughter.
As a young dad, I was taught that “delayed obedience is disobedience,” and that kids should be required to immediately obey all parental requests. I disciplined accordingly, knowing that having obedient kids was a good goal. And, if I’m honest with myself, I liked the feeling of control and validation that came with having obedient kids.
When our kids disobeyed, I was quick to respond with a rebuke and a consequence. Our oldest son Daniel was particularly strong-willed and defiant, and I was particularly hard on him. But my approach didn’t have the desired effect. As he grew from toddler to preschooler, Daniel grew more irritated by my discipline, and his general demeanor started becoming more angry and testy. I intensified efforts to “nip this in the bud” by using the commonly recommended practices for requiring obedience. The firmly delivered phrase, “Daniel, delayed obedience is disobedience, and you’ll be disciplined if you don’t obey immediately,” was commonplace. Sometimes he complied, and sometimes he did not, but we were both generally discouraged by the process.
When kids (and adults) experience tangled and confusing emotions that are difficult to express, what often comes out is anger. It feels vulnerable to be anxious, ashamed, sad, embarrassed, disappointed, discouraged, overwhelmed, confused, hurt or rejected. A typical response is to self-protect by avoiding or hiding those emotions under a layer of anger. We may not even be aware of those emotions. Unfortunately, when what we show is our anger, that’s usually what we get back from others, and it escalates the conflict instead of solving it.
Helping kids understand this emotional dynamic can be a challenge. We’ve designed a fun activity for you, adaptable for different ages or learning styles to equip your kids with the insight they’ll need for less meltdowns now, and healthy relationships in the future.
Kids are bound to lie and parents are bound to catch them, and then punish or lecture them. Unfortunately, this can spiral into a contentious cat-and-mouse game, as kids become more crafty and parents become more angry. In our work with parents, we have seen that treating lying with grace and placing a high value on truth-telling, powerfully opens children’s hearts to the Holy Spirit’s conviction about lying and honesty. Here are four ways to make that practical:
We are so honored to serve you and equip you in your parenting journey. Thank you for trusting us! We always welcome your feedback and stories from how you are integrating our resources into your family. We pray there is a little something for all of you to challenge and encourage you every time you read our content.
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When it comes to raising your kids, we know how frustrating it can be to put your whole heart into it over the years and continue seeing the same issues, the same misbehavior, the same fights, repeat themselves over and over again.
You read as many parenting books as you can get your hands on. You stay up sometimes for hours researching articles on the internet. You give it everything you have. And yet, the same issues keep popping up. And sometimes all you can do is snap:
“Stop that right now — or you’re grounded!”
“You can’t talk to me that way — go to your room!”
“Give me that toy — you won’t see it again till next week!”
We get it. We all want our kids to behave wisely… but in trying to help them toward that goal, sometimes we instead get caught in a spiral of angry behavior management.
Over the years, we’ve learned a different way to approach misbehavior and parenting — an approach that is full of God’s grace and truth for parents and kids.
If you haven’t already, check out our piece about the importance and power of empathy when kids misbehave. Then, add to your list of practical ways to connect with this short video that gives more examples of how to make sure kids know, “You are loved no matter what!” even when they misbehave.
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Have you ever noticed that kids rarely misbehave when they feel truly happy and deeply secure? There’s a reason for this.
When our children misbehave, there is almost always underlying discouragement or anxiety that drives the misbehavior. Rushing to address the misbehavior without understanding the discouragement often backfires, in one of two ways:
It fuels the power struggle flames and misbehavior escalates.
The intensity of effort to make it stop “works” to curb misbehavior in the short run, but feeds the discouragement, which feeds further misbehavior in the long run.