Tips on Non-Compliant Children

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Some Tips for Parents on Non-Compliant Children

Non-compliance is the family therapist's big word for your child not obeying you when you have asked him or her to do something. The child may be rebellious, scream "no" to your face, and slam the door. Or the child may say "yes, I'd be glad to help," smile, and go play the X-box. But either way the child does not do what you asked him to do. The word is helpful because it is descriptive, and because it may also motivate us as parents to move our kids from being non-compliant to being compliant.

Defining Non-Compliance

Here's how we are going to define the term "non-compliance" in children:

  1. The child fails to begin doing what he was clearly asked to do within a reasonable amount of time, which would easily be 15 seconds.
  2. The child fails to keep doing what he was asked to do until the job is finished.
  3. The child fails to follow previously taught rules of conduct in a specific situation, such as at church, at school, at the store, or with friends.

Non-Compliance in Children, Some Tips for Parents

When your child is non-compliant you need to take action.

You simply cannot ignore the behavior hoping that it will go away. In fact, non-compliant behavior can be “self-reinforcing” or “self-rewarding” behavior. In other words, every time your child gets away with not doing what you had asked him to do, he feels “rewarded.” And behavior that is “rewarded” tends to re-occur. So every time your child gets away with being non-compliant it increases the odds that he will be non-compliant the next time too.

Here are some really good resources to read...

Deal with the situation immediately yourself. And in very tough situations consider getting some professional help. In fact, non-compliance in children is the most frequent complaint of parents seeking help in clinics. It is frustrating to parents, and underlies most negative interactions between family members (parents, and siblings) and the child.

Disruptive behaviors, aggressive behaviors, or explosive behaviors, usually do not occur randomly. Instead they occur in "bursts" and are usually associated with either having asked the child to do something around the house, or after having been asked for something by the child and the parents responds with a “no.”

Over the years I have developed some presuppositions with respect to children and their behavior. I'd like to pass this on to you, as parents, with the hope that it will help you in dealing with a non-compliant child. They are:

  • Kids are weird. Children do not think like adults do. Their brains are not as mature, not as large, not as capable as adult brains are. Children do not process information as adults do. They cannot see or understand the world around them as adults do.
  • Kids are fools. This is not original with me. King Solomon, reflecting on his growing family (he had 1,000 wives and who knows how many children) said this a long time ago. "Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child," is the way he put it. Simply said, "Kids will do foolish things, they are not yet wise." It is our job as parents to teach them wisdom.
  • Have realistic expectations. We often expect more out of our kid's behavior than we expect from our own behavior. We want others to excuse faults in us, yet we will expect perfection in our children. When we have a difficult child, it is a great opportunity for us to become more humble, and to examine our own lives and actions too.
  • Children do most things, good or bad, on purpose. Child behavior is not random. Sometimes your child will misbehave on purpose. When he does, it is because he is testing you. He is observing you to see how you will react. He wants to know if you will ignore the behavior, or excuse it, or just do the chore yourself. He wants to know if you will react with anger, guilt, or wisdom. Draw the line now, act with wisdom and righteousness, or you will be sorry later.

Here are two phrases for parents to remember in understanding your children:

A child's behavior occurs because of

  1. who the child is,
  2. what the child knows about you, and
  3. what the child wants from you.

The child will do things either

  • to ESCAPE or AVOID SOMETHING that he does not want to do or have.

So please spend enough time with your child to let him know that you are on his side, and that you want the best for him.

There are certain things that our children need to know in order to be successful in life, and one of those things is knowing how to listen and obey parents. Stay the course and be consistent with teaching your child wisdom and compliance.

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