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Why is our preschooler so defiant, and how can we get him to listen?

Why is our preschooler so defiant, and how can we get him to listen?


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As exasperating as his behavior is, your preschooler's defiance is really about his asserting himself. While a toddler defies his parents because he's caught up in the excitement of his autonomy, a preschooler is likely to be reacting to something. When your 3- or 4-year-old doesn't comply with a request you've made, what he's saying, in essence, is, "I don't like your rules."

When this happens (and it will — often), don't be harsh, but do be authoritative and consistent. This lets your preschooler know that you have established rules that he has to follow, and that Mom and Dad are in charge. Most 3- and 4-year-olds understand the concept of rules, so take time to explain to your child what they are and why they're important. Explain, too, what'll happen if he breaks them. Be specific — "If you leave the yard, you'll have to play inside for the rest of the day." Also enlist your preschooler's suggestions; he'll be more apt to cooperate if he helps determine the consequences for particular actions.

Though it's easier said than done, try to reward good behavior rather than punishing misbehavior. Preschoolers respond well to positive reinforcement, such as charts and stickers, so use them liberally. Say your child gets out of bed every night, though you've repeatedly told him that he has to stay there after he's tucked in. Instead of chastising him for getting up, reward him with a sticker on a cheery chart each night that he complies. At the end of a successful week, treat him to a small toy or a trip to the park.

Of course, you can't make charts (or even put your foot down) about every little thing. But when your preschooler really is being defiant, it's vital to let him know — firmly and calmly — who's in charge.


Watch the video: How To Discipline A Child With Oppositional Defiant Disorder (January 2023).

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