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Tackling Anger and Defiance

A can-do attitude can be described as precocious in some preschoolers and kindergarteners, but in others it can hint at a defiant nature that may cause trouble when ignited by a bad temper. Toning down anger and defiance can be difficult, as they may have a tricky time detaching themselves from the emotions that have gotten them so worked up, but getting a handle on screaming and yelling is an important part of effective parenting.

Defiant Children: Defining Limits

Oftentimes, demonstrations of anger and acts of defiance result in temper tantrums and other unacceptable behavior. To avoid this problem, make sure that you teach your children that these actions are not only inappropriate, but that they are ineffective. Set a limit to how much misbehavior you will tolerate. Once that limit is reached, you must follow through with whatever discipline or punishment you have deemed appropriate.

  • Be consistent. While your forms of punishment can (and should) change, your commitment to seeing whatever penalty your child has earned through should not. By establishing your role as the disciplinarian, and by enforcing your ability to use it, your child will learn soon enough that you mean business.
  • Change your tactics. Kids will quickly learn that a tantrum means 5 minutes in the corner, and for them this might be worth it. Keep trying different forms of discipline including positive parenting, until you find something that works with your toddler, but don't become too predictable, as you never want the punishment to be worth the satisfaction of defying your authority as a parent.
  • Reinforce appropriate behavior. By acknowledging good behavior and not backing down to defiance, you can encourage your child to act appropriately and can cut down on the number of tantrums that you, and your eardrums, have to endure.
  • Talk to your therapist or school counselor to determine if your child may have a more serious behavior problem known as Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD).

While anger and defiance can lead to inappropriate behavior, parents should keep in mind that anger is a natural, healthy emotion and that it should not be stifled completely. Teaching children how to vent their anger in a productive way can help them work through their problems-- resulting in toddlers that think before they throw themselves to the floor, kicking and screaming.