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Why is my child so defiant?

If you have a defiant child who pushes the boundaries, doesn’t like to be controlled, or who does not respond well to authority, it can be difficult to know what is the ‘right’ thing to do.

Often I see parents who have tried to stop these types of behaviour by forcing their willpower over the child in an attempt to regulate the child.

Yet, when adults force or punish children who are defiant, they often continue to struggle because if we control or dominate a child then a power loop gets activated. In trying to use the same energy of power stop such behaviours we often find the child just becomes stronger and in some cases more forceful.

Being in the wonder about the child’s behaviour requires that we remain present and mindful to our children’s behaviours, which is not always possible if we are triggered ourselves by the behaviour. If we cannot remain curious and in wonder however, we close down a deeper understanding of why the child is acting in the way they are, and what the defiance is communicating for the child.

When you learn that children who are defiant have an unmet ‘Need to Act’ then we get closer to understanding them.

To be open to some of the behaviours we see coming forth in our children means that we have to become more aware of the needs that are beneath the behaviours and all children need to feel they can act according with what they feel is the best action, or be allowed to do something in their own way,

My philosophy and Foundational Needs Model is a map to our needs, which helps you to come to know that any person who is controlled or dominated will adopt an excessive energy of defense and protection. Our children are no different.

If you look to the need to act in your own life you may see that you are lacking control (standing up for yourself as an adult) and the child is pushing you to activate a balanced control in your own life. Perhaps you hold the idea that a parent has to control children and this might be able to be reviewed. If you are not controlling toward your child yourself and wonder why this is coming up – you might consider if you have been, or are currently feeling controlled?

From such enquiry you might begin to realise the pattern of the unmet ‘Need to Act’ is a dynamic beneath the child’s behaviours because you feel this way to but have learnt to control your impulses.

However, once this need is acknowledged, the behaviour will not need to keep coming back around. By being in the wonder of the defiance we stop the fight and power struggles and begin to see much more flow and self-directed movement from our children and our relationships with them.

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