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Practical Strategies for Working with Defiant Children
New online CE course designed to provide clinicians with effective and practical strategies to manage challenging and defiant behavior in their young clients.
When Your Young Client is Defiant (https://www.pdresources.org/
According to the author of the course, Adina Soclof, MS, CCC-SLP, a certified Speech-Language Pathologist, “children frequently speak ‘in code,’ especially those who have underdeveloped verbal skills, such as children with language delays.” Soclof gives the example a child who says “you’re so stupid,” or “you can’t make me do that!” The adult’s task is to (1) get over the anger that results when a child speaks disrespectfully and (2) de-code what the child is really saying. In this case, the child may be saying “I am so mad at you,” or “I don’t feel in control here.”
Of all the skills taught in this course, the most powerful may be the use of praise to encourage and motivate positive conduct. Defiant children rarely hear anything positive from adults. For them, life is full of demands, complaints and criticisms. They soon develop a damaged sense of self-esteem. Adults who can master the art of delivering an honest bit of praise will find a more cooperative child.
One of the most difficult situations presented by these children is the temper tantrum that can quickly spiral out of control. The following are some examples of helpful responses that can be used to defuse a conflict before it gets out of hand:
Can we take a break and start over?
I get upset when you speak to me in that way, let’s take a break.
I don’t want to argue with you.
Let’s calm down and talk again a bit later.
You sound mad.
You sound frustrated.
Please help me understand why you are so upset.
You really don’t want to go to help the neighbors, but I told them you would.
Invite To Come Up With A Solution:
Can we come up with a solution?
I want to work together with you to find a solution.
Children who believe they are “bad kids” will act the part. Clinicians cannot emphasize enough to parents and teachers the importance of separating the behavior from the child. A combination of empathy, flexibility, patience and understanding of defiant behavior is crucial in gradually bringing about the desired change and channeling the negative behavior into a positive light.
Ms. Soclof is also the author of another continuing education course, Improving Communication with Your Young Clients (https://www.pdresources.org/
Professional Development Resources (https://www.pdresources.org/