Learning How Do I Change My Child’s Bad Attitude takes time and patience. There is no one size fits all. Most children are capable of good behaviour, will listen to your basic requests, are self-sufficient and have learnt through trial and error their own way of interpreting the world.
However, you may find that your child is becoming more problematical as they start to test boundaries, show more defiance and tune out when you give them a request.
This is not uncommon behaviour for older children as they search for more independence and freedom. Usually, most children start school around this time and this can have an important influence on their behaviour both positive and negative.
Related: 3 Year Olds Not Listening
Does any of these examples sound familiar? If your child:
- Doesn’t respond well to Time out’s
- Doesn’t follow your directions
- Is constantly struggling for Power
- Shows good behaviour but bad behaviour in school
- Tells small lies about everyday matter
- Doesn’t take you seriously
- Continually tunes out when you talk to them
- Has problems with authority including teaches
- Constantly battles with you over trivial requests
Then you may have to redefine your parenting approach.
How Do I Change My Child’s Bad Attitude? 10 Proven Tactics
Most Children understand the consequences of their actions. However, sometimes they need a very obvious reminder that you want things done sooner rather than later.
A short countdown is a perfect way to do this. Here you ask them to do something and If they don’t listen or tune you out you repeat the instruction but this time add a “5, 4, 3, 2, 1” countdown to it.
“Sweetie I’ve just asked you to go wash your hands for dinner. I’m going to give you 5 seconds to put that computer down and head to the bathroom after that you’ll be banned from all screens for 1 hour.
- 5, 4, 3, 2, 1….”
IF you do this repeatedly you should find that your request holds more weight and your child has a better sense of urgency to get them done. It’s a very simple process but it works well for older children who just need that extra push to conform.
Make sure that if you get to the number 1 and your child still hasn’t listened that you follow through with the consequence. If not your child may continually call your bluff as they do not view your discipline as stern enough and will find ways to pick holes in it.
2. Never Give Too Many Options
You need to provide your kids with clear choices and not confuse them with too many options. Often, parents complain of disruptive or defiance behaviour from children, but when you look a bit deeper you see that the request was very complex.
Try to limit your request to 2 or 3 options maximum. The less the better.
A child may become overwhelmed with options and this can lead to even more frustration which will lead to ‘tuning out’ more often.
For example, “Sweetie, We are going to the shop, do you want to wear your red dress or the pink one?
It’s simple, but effective and gives your child a sense of autonomy and responsibility for the things they do.
3. Too Much Attention To Negative Behaviour
It’s difficult not to pay too much attention to disruptive behaviour especially if it’s aggressive or abusive. Children who are defiant and find it difficult to listen are generally doing so as a plea for attention.
It’s not uncommon for parents to form patterns to giving more attention to negative behaviour than positive.
This forms a behaviour cycle around what behaviour is appropriate for attention and can have a big influence on your child’s ability to listen to you.
If your child sees that you show more attention to their disruptive and oppositional behaviour then they will form a connection that negative behaviour is a sustainable way to get attention.
Reinforce Positive Behaviour
You’ve probably been there before, you’ve asked your child 3 or 4 times to do something, they still aren’t listening or worse still are being oppositional.
You lose your cool, shout, scream or drag them into submission and this strengthens the influence that negative behaviour has on attention.
Your child is very smart and will do whatever they can to get the most attention from you.
Unfortunately, the lines are blurred between positive and negative behaviours that lead to attention so if your child forms strong associations with certain behaviour they will continue to do it until they are taught differently.
The key here is to reinforce positive behaviour and try your best to ignore or reframe oppositional disruptive behaviour so that it is shown less.
For example, your late for an appointment and your child is stalling to get dresses. Instead of getting frustrated and engaging in a heated argument that ultimately will make you later try this:
“Sweetie, I’ve asked you 3 times now to put your jacket on so we can leave. I’m not going get upset with you, but it does mean you may miss your play date with your friend later. You do want to go play right?”
Remember, you can use any reason that is closely linked to something your child wants to do. I.e. More playtime when they get back, a ride on their bike, extra yoghurt for dessert etc
Afterwards, provide healthy encouragement and praise to show that good behaviour gets rewarded with attention more than negative behaviour. No need to go over the top, but just thank them for listening and tell them you are proud of them for cooperating.
4. Understand Their Perspective
Older children tend to have very clear personality traits and form clear perspectives of the world. You’ve probably noticed this too and can see that there are some areas are more sensitive to your child.
Understanding these sensitive areas is a good way to strengthen bonds and help curb any defiant behaviour. For example, if you know that your child loves to play with others but doesn’t like being told what to do, you can frame your discipline techniques to take this into consideration.
“Sweetie, I know you want to go play with your friends but you have to tidy your toys first. You don’t want your friends to play in your messy room, do you? I’ll help tidy up the sides while you tidy the floor, sound fair? Good, let’s do it!”
Here you have incorporated their perspective of playing with friends with your perspective of keeping a tidy house. This is a simple yet intricate way to keep all parties happy and will ensure that your child shows more compliant behaviour.
5. Change in Diet (less sugar, wheat, dairy or gluten)
How Do I Change My Child’s Bad Attitude? One uncommon area that parents don’t examine is diet. Dieting has a big effect on all children’s activates including their behaviour. A child that is juiced up on lots of sugar will show more erratic and hostile behaviour.
Try to keep a food diary and see if you can see a connection between diet and your child’s bad attitude.
Do you find that your child tends to show more defiant behaviour in the morning during breakfast?
Are they particularly oppositional in the afternoon after lunch?
Do they have a hard time listening after dessert time in the evening?
You may begin to see a pattern of behaviour. For example, if they are showing more disruption in the evening after eating a sugary dessert then try limiting the sugar or changing it with a non-sugar alternative.
Wheat, Dairy & Gluten can all still have big impacts on your child behaviour so test to see which food group impacts your child’s behaviour.
1 Week Test
Strip out all dairy for 1 week and take note of any changes in behaviour. If you don’t observe any direct changes then you can conclude that dairy isn’t a contributing factor to your child not listening.
Next week try to avoid wheat. You can carry on doing this for a variety of food groups until you’ve found a better dieting plan that reflects a more compliant behaviour.
This is a very accurate way to measure the impact of diet on your child and will help promote a better discipline framework.
6. Regulate Behaviour In School
Is your child not listening in school? This is very common with children in new environments. Moreover, some children don’t take very well to authority figures and will purposely be disruptive.
These power struggles can happen at home and at school. But, at school, you aren’t there to help curb bad behaviour. This is especially difficult if your child doesn’t listen or follow directions.
Some schools will allow you to sit in during school times for a few hours every day. Here you can observe your child’s behaviour and then have the ability to step in once they are showing signs of disruption.
This is a very smart way to help influence your child’s behaviour in a positive way.
7. Behavioural Problems (ADHD )
ADHD stands for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. This is a medical condition that affects brain development and brain activity. This has a direct impact on attention, the ability to sit still, and self-control.
If your child suffers from this condition then you will have a harder time getting them to focus on everyday tasks.
Furthermore, this will also have an impact on their problem solving and listening skills as they need more care and attention.
It’s important that you asses whether your child suffers from this condition before you make any conclusions on the reason behind their defiant behaviour.
Parents can wrongly self-diagnose a child as disruptive when they actually have a medical condition.
8. Set Up Routines
Children react better to routines once they know what is happening and when it happens. Keeping your child in a routine will give them the ability to know what to expect. This will help with them regain control with their expectations and their behaviour.
Children crave structure and by ensuring you stick to a routine you allow them to learn and develop in a safe and secure environment.
A child that knows what is about to happen is less likely to throw a tantrum or become defiant. For example, if bedtime is at 8.45pm every day, then the rule is set in stone and there is little room for debate.
With busy schedules and constant distractions, it’s not always easy to follow a strict routine. However, by sticking as close as possible to it, you will support your child with more structure and help reinforce more compliant behaviour.
9. Get Them Involved
Children love to be included in the things you do. They want to wear mummy glasses, put on daddy’s trousers and sit in the driving seat in the car to pretend to drive.
When it’s safe to do so include your child in a variety of everyday tasks.
From taking out laundry to sweeping the floor, your child can feel secure in the fact that they are doing the things that you are doing.
It’s really a win-win for you as you get to spend more quality time with your child and help them to develop a more problem solving and dynamic character.
Having an extra hand with the daily chores can’t hurt either!
Remember, a child that feels support and appreciated is less likely to show defiant behaviour. This means they will be more willing to listen to the things you say and do the things you ask them, in a more timely manner.
If your child has a bad attitude chances are they are just craving attention.
By including them in your day-to-day routines more frequently, you show them they are mature. This promotes more independence and responsibility.
10. Picture Chart For Good Behaviour
A smart way to help improve your child behaviour and decrease any defiant traits is to create a picture chart. A picture chart shows in pictures positive and compliant behaviour. It’s great as it helps to reinforce the behaviour that is expected from your child in different environments.
(You can even do it create one together just to have more bonding time!)
For example, if your child is showing disruptive behaviour at school then create a picture chart that shows them of all the correct behavioural steps when they are there.
Picture 1: Sitting down on the desk
Picture 2: Raising had to speak
Picture 3: Paying attention
Picture 4: Learning with others etc
It’s important that you highlight the positive consequence of good behaviour by having a concluding picture with your child being happy. This will help to show that once they follow the correct behaviour steps they will be happier.
You can see an example here:
It’s a simple, fun and resourceful way to promote positive behaviour and can have a very positive effect on your child’s behaviour.
Parents who think “How Do I Change My Child’s Bad Attitude?” should use several of these tips to see what will work for them.
Putting these strategies in action will give you a headstart to help curb defiance and even cut it out altogether.