Compliance Strategies
For Defiant Children

Learn the best compliance strategies for defiant children to eliminate a child behavior problem, such as temper tantrums and aggressive behavior. These may especially work for individuals diagnosed with oppositional defiant disorder.

Most behavioral programs often use reinforcement programs as a method to gain compliance. While I believe this can work to gain some compliance, it is often difficult to consistently maintain this type of program for parents and usually when the program is not in place the compliance ceases to exist. You also risk an added problem of child tantrums when the reinforcer isn't earned.

little girl sticking her tongue out and displaying symptoms of defiant children

Therefore, the compliance strategies for defiant children that are outlined here are intended to be used as a normal part of a child’s day.

You can use a reinforcement program for a defiant child participating in his or her daily schedule through the use of a behavior chart, but it will be most effective when used along with the following tips.

I also recommend reading my free eBook Taming Your Child's Inner Tiger before applying the following compliance strategies for defiant children, to be sure that your child's refusals aren't due to other reasons.

Organize your child’s daily activities so that they occur in the same order each day as much as possible.

This first strategy for defiant children is ultimately the most important. Developing a routine helps a child to know what to expect and increases the chances that he or she will comply with things such as chores, homework, and hygiene requests. When undesirable activities occur in the same order at optimal times during the day, they become habits that are not questioned, but done without thought.

Chances are that you have developed some type of routine for yourself in terms of showering, cleaning your house, or doing other types of work. You have an idea in your mind when you will do these things on a regular basis and this helps you to know what to expect. In fact, you have probably already been using most of these compliance strategies for yourself without realizing it.

For children, without setting these expectations on a daily basis by making them part of a regular routine, they can become very upset. Just like adults, children think about what they plan to do that day and expect to be able to do what they want. So, when you come along and ask them to do something they weren’t already planning to do that day, this can result in automatic refusals and other undesirable defiant behavior. However, by using this compliance strategy with defiant children, these activities are done almost every day in the same general order and the child expects to already do them.

Create a written or picture schedule.

If for some reason it is absolutely impossible to do a regular routine in pretty much the same order every day, put together a written (if your child is able to read) or picture schedule for your child to view each day. This may be more common for individuals with characteristics for autism, but is really a great resource for all children. I have used one with my son that has been a huge help for compliance.

While this compliance strategy for defiant children requires more effort on your part initially, if it would make a difference in your everyday battles wouldn't it be worth it? One or two hours of work in exchange for days and months of peace? You can put together the schedule each day as needed by arranging the laminated pictures on a velcro strip, writing on a dry erase schedule board, or arranging pictures or written words on a computer to be printed off.

Go over the schedule at night before bed explaining what will happen the next day, again in the morning, and then continue to cross or check off each item as it is completed as you are able. Be sure to include lots of fun things to do as well.

Organize fun activities to occur after frequently refused activities.

This strategy also works as a positive reinforcer when the child complies with your requests. By arranging your day so that things often refused occur right before highly preferred activities, you are able to eliminate defiant behavior and motivate your child’s behavior of doing the undesirable activity.

This is not to be presented in a way that the preferred activity is only allowed if a defiant child does the non-preferred activity. However, you can word your request in a way so that your child assumes that you have to do the non-preferred activity before moving on to the next preferred activity. For example, you do not want to say something such as, “If you clean your room we can play a game.” Instead word your request like this, “As soon as you are done cleaning your room we will be able to play that really fun game you wanted to play.”

Praise Defiant Children 

This is probably a common term you are used to hearing by now. If you praise your child’s behavior when they are complying, he or she will be more likely to do that behavior. So, it is essential to use praise when working with defiant children. It also provides your child with positive attention. However, it is important to know how to praise children in a way that encourages future automatic reinforcement for your child when doing a similar behavior.

Strategies for Defiant Children Part 2 >>>

Additional pages you may find helpful:

Printable Behavior Charts
Chore Charts
Chores List by Age
Homework Charts
Feelings Charts
Dealing with Picky Eaters
Signs of ADHD
Auditory Processing Disorder
Listening Skills
Study and Homework tips
Tips for Improving Attention and Memory

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