Dealing with a Defensive Child

How to deal with a child who is defensive and does not take well to correction?

If this is the case, the child may have been over corrected or been corrected in a way that lacks connection. Eventually, enough of this kind of correction will lead to a loss of relationship capital. The parent will lose the ability to have influence.

It makes sense. Imagine having a micromanager boss over correcting you in a condescending way. How much would you respect this boss and how inclined would you be to accept his advice and feedback?

Here are some ways to turn things around for the better.

  1. Stop talking and correct so much. Just stop. Breathe and bite your lip.
  2. When a child makes a mistake, be positive and constructive. Use a positive tone of voice.
  3. Do not take things personally. Do not be defensive yourself. Even if blame is directed at you. Be stable and present even in the face of your child’s emotions directed at you.
  4. Make it okay to make mistakes in your home. When a mistake is made, stay calm and don’t react in a big way. Watch your facial expression and body language. Breath and consider not even saying anything.
  5. Model mistake making yourself.
  6. Model positive self talk after you make a mistake.
  7. Talk about how you make mistakes. Show your vulnerability and ineptitude sometimes.
  8. Empathize and validate your child. Understand their world. Repair your relationship.
  9. Connect and play with them in their word. Let them lead the play even.
  10. If you want to give advice or correct make sure everyone is calm and you have heard them first. Corrections do not land without connection. (Connect before you correct).

Consider reading this post as well entitled Problem Child

Although this is a short bulleted list, I hope you find it helpful. There is more to it and more nuance to it than I can explain here.

Also, here is something to consider. Get some help. The apple may not fall far from the tree. If your child is defensive, you may be defensive, and hurt…. Which, as I know from personal experience, doesn’t bode well for help seeking unfortunately. Defensive people generally don’t like getting help. It can make them feel wrong to get help. They like to try it on their own because being vulnerable is hard. However, asking for help and receiving it is often the key to unlocking the door that you so badly want to walk though.

I am wishing you well


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