How to Discipline Deliberate Disobedience

Father talking to daughter
You can minimize deliberate disobedience by enforcing appropriate discipline. (Image: Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

Deliberate disobedience occurs when a child understands what she is supposed to do, but makes the conscious decision to disobey the rules set for her. If your child is consistently deliberately disobedient, it might result from feelings of powerlessness or insecurity, according to Dr. Patricia M. McCormack in an article published in the March 2001 issue of "Today’s Catholic Teacher." Whatever the cause, disciplining deliberate disobedience is key to preventing it from accelerating. How you discipline your child depends on your child, her age -- and the disobedient act itself.

Step 1

Keep your cool when your child is deliberately disobedient, according to HealthyChildren.org, a website of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Your temper can incite his temper, causing further defiance and disobedience. Speak to your child with respect when discussing his disobedience, offering him the opportunity to explain why he acted the way he did.

Step 2

Let natural consequences teach your child that his disobedience comes with negative consequences. For example, if your child refuses to put his bicycle inside the garage at night, let him suffer the consequences. In this case, the bike will eventually rust or someone will steal it, leaving him without a bike to ride. Learning from personal experience is an effective method of punishment for disobedient children.

Step 3

Take away a privilege when your child deliberately disobeys a rule once you clearly explain the consequence for disobedience, advises the KidsHealth website. For example, you might make it clear to your child that you expect him to come inside and get ready for dinner when you call him -- and if he doesn't, you will take away his privilege of playing outside before dinner for two days. Then, if you call him inside and tell him that you want him to get ready for dinner -- and he deliberately goes back outside and continues playing -- take away his privilege of playing outside before dinner for the next two days as promised. This is a way to help teach him that a few extra minutes of playing outside isn’t worth being stuck inside for two days -- and you mean what you say.

Step 4

Don't make empty threats. Think about the consequences you set before you relaying them to your child, advises the HealthyChildren.org website. For example, if you tell your child that if he disobeys you one more time, he’s never playing outside again, you better be prepared to never let him out of the house to play again -- or you risk teaching him that your threats are empty.

Step 5

Keep your discipline appropriate for the disobedient act. Whether you take away privileges or ground your child, make sure that the consequence is appropriate and not too harsh so that your child can learn from the experience and doesn't feel that you are treating him unfairly. For example, if you tell your child that he can go to his friend’s house down the street as long as he’s home by 5 p.m., don't ground him for a month if he's an hour late. Grounding him this long might result in a worsening of his behavior because he might feel like he has nothing left to lose since he’s already lost a privilege for so long.

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