Parenting Information


I WONT DO IT! Tips for Working with the Oppositional Child


"I WON'T DO IT!" "YOU CAN'T MAKE ME!"

Whether parent or teacher, we have all "been there" and "done that" with a child exhibiting refusal behaviors. Before "losing your cool" and your power as well, interventions and strategies are provided for use to help deescalate this classic power struggle.

-Avoid placing yourself in a stand-off situation with the child.

-Don't "mark a line in the sand" unless prepared to follow through with the consequences on your own. Creating a demand situation?."You will sit in your seat or I will call someone to seat you"?.will cause the authority figure to lose his/her power. This is a main goal of oppositional children?personal control over their environment.

-Under a demand situation, especially with authority figures, an oppositional child will be more likely to escalate to extreme opposition. Stop talking. Give the child a chance to detach from the situation with some power. Problem-solving the situation when both parties are calm will prove more productive.

-Phrase requests which are more likely to bring an oppositional response with a negative statement?"I don't expect you would want to?." Or "You probably wouldn't want to?.."

-Create a situation where it is more worth the child's while to be part of.

-Use distraction.

-Give choices which give the student some control.

-Give the student a specific leadership role during stressful transitions, such as day care dismissal. Monitoring younger children for appropriate dismissal behavior, such as sitting quietly, would be an example of a specific leadership role.

These children can be extremely challenging. Should a pattern of continuing emotionality become evident, additional advice from professionals, such as the child's pediatrician or a school guidance counselor, would be recommended in order to develop a positive behavior support system to help ensure behavioral success.

Sheree S. Marty has worked with elementary school children as a school counselor for the past nine years. A physical education teacher for thirteen years, Ms. Marty earned her Master degree in Counseling in 2000. Ms. Marty is the author and owner of "Chinese Jump Rope", a childrens games book and website. For more information, visit http://chinesejumprope.tripod.com


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