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How to Respond with High EQ When Kids Say Defiant Things?

Kids do say the darnest things.



Sometimes it's funny.

Sometimes it's the truth.

Sometimes it's embarrassing.

Sometimes it's just down right rude and mean.


Especially when we need their cooperation in a hurry, what they say can really frustrates even upsets us.


When kids say things that seems to defy or resist us or be out of the norm, instead of jumping to "Why is this child so rude?", we should dig deeper to understand why they choose to say what they say.




When children say defiant or rude things, keep in mind that their intention might not be purely resistance or defiance. In fact, if you ask children why they use rude languages or tones and what sort of response they want out from adults, they'd tell you, "No response needed. Just shut up!"


So how should parents respond to children when they're saying rude or mean things?


Here are some great ways to respond with empathetic perspective and high EQ:



RUDE LANGUAGE 1 ) "WHY SHOULD I LISTEN TO YOU?"


HIGH EQ REPLY:

"It's not about who to listen to. It's about making smart choices."


Let your child know that it's not about whose commends to heed to. Let them know that it isn't necessary for you to require obedience to every single thing you tell them. Parents are human, too. Adults make mistakes as well when we encounter blind spots. It's important to encourage your child to voice out their opinion and discuss together the pros and cons. Let them know that they also have a right to make a decision on their own by taking into the consideration of their own safety as well as others. If your child still insist on their own way, parents may choose to let the child go ahead and experience any natural consequences that may follow. The most important thing is to let them know that the point isn't to just "listen to your parents" - it is due to our own life experiences that we can foresee certain logical consequences.



RUDE LANGUAGE 2 ) "WHY CAN YOU BUT NOT ME?"

HIGH EQ REPLY:

"Adults don't get to do whatever they want either."


When children are challenging adults, "That's not fair" is often the mindset. Using authoritarian style of parenting here is actually counterproductive. This would be a great opportunity to cultivate empathy by letting your children realize that being adults does not equal to having more privileges and freedom.


In the meantime, let your children know that there are rules and laws that adults have to abide as well. Difference age bears different set of responsibilities and consequences. But if what your child has pointed out is is a legitimate complaint, it's best to issue explanations and apologies. For example, if adults set the rules of no TV during mealtime, but they actually do eat and watch TV at the same time, it makes a harder case to convince the children why your rules stand.



RUDE LANGUAGE 3 ) "I DON'T WANNA!"


HIGH EQ REPLY:

"I hear you. Can you tell me why not?"


Describe the situation at hand back to the child and ask them their reasons behind their resistance. Let the child know that they're being heard. But when a simple "I don't wanna" won't solve the problem, ask your child how they hope to solve the issue themselves. If your child is younger, give two to three alternative options for them to choose from by reminding them what issue you're hoping to resolve together.


RUDE LANGUAGE 4 ) "GO AWAY! LEAVE ME ALONE!"


HIGH EQ REPLY:

"It's not that we want to nag you, but we just want to remind you to rethink your choices."


Let your child know that you aren't trying to control them. No one likes to be controlled or to be bossed around. This is just a simple reminder. If your child's response to your reminders is prone to create emotional havoc, ask your child how they like to be reminded.



RUDE LANGUAGE 5 ) "HOW COME THEY CAN BUT NOT ME?"


HIGH EQ REPLY:

"Every family has different rules."


Oftentimes when a child pushes their boundaries, they challenge parents by comparing themselves to their peers. When this happens, you should let your child understand that everyone comes from different backgrounds with different sorts of values and perspectives which will result in different sets of family rules. Let your child understand that while you acknowledge other's beliefs, we should also learn and respect about why we do things in a certain way.

RUDE LANGUAGE 6 ) "I HATE YOU!"


HIGH EQ REPLY:

"I hear that you're very angry/frustrated with me right now."


While it's hurtful to hear such harsh words from the mouths of our own children whom we love so much, we have to keep in mind that children say this often is targeting towards a specific incident. You might feel attacked and offended, but don't take it personally. Help your child sort out their feelings and find viable resolution together to the issue at hand.



RUDE LANGUAGE 7 ) "I JUST WANT TO DIE!"


HIGH EQ REPLY:

"Let's hold that thought."


Often, when a child threatens or even attempts suicide it is an impulsive act borne of emotional frustration or feelings of humiliation or anger, not a premeditated plan to end his life. Nowadays, with the proliferation of electronic devices and gaming industry, children think that "death" is like what's in a game or a video, an act that can be easily done, refresh, and repeat. Children sometimes hyperbolically use this phrase to strongly express their opposition or discontent.


On the other hand, children tend to be very concrete in their thinking and need to be prompted to explain what they mean by wanting “to die.” Sometimes you can get to the root of the matter by asking a child how he thinks things would improve if he were dead.


RUDE LANGUAGE 8 ) "I'M GONNA RUN AWAY FROM HOME!"


HIGH EQ REPLY:

"I'M GONNA RUN AWAY FROM HOME!"


This is a very typical fight or flight human response to stressors. After identifying their emotional or physical stressor that's present, a change of scenery or pace might actually be necessary and needed. Take a walk in the park, go out for ice cream, or simply do something both you and the child enjoy but haven't done in a while. Discuss and negotiate openly what changes can be done to improve your child's current condition, might it be emotional or physical. Give your child an open access to a professional or another trusted adult is a great way to offer you both better space, clarity, and perspective.



IN CONCLUSION


Don’t forget that children imitate our ways of coping with stress and life’s difficulties. So bear this in mind how you deal with life's stressors when you’re experiencing negative feelings or thoughts. The important thing here is to help your child learn more productive and pragmatic ways to manage and express what upsets them instead of overemphasizing on just etiquettes, manners, and outwardly behaviors.


All these "defiant comments" are manifestation of something that must be disturbing them greatly—something about which they feel that they have little to no control—something that they feel threatened that they want to protect and defend their psychological or physical state---for them to resort to words that command such attention. Children's limited expressive language skills also fuel these brisk "rude comments."



Treat these "defiant comments" just as you would to physical ailment or symptom by take a break from your normal daily routine to rest or to go see a physician. While they may seem like trivial like a mosquito bite, but we never want to miss a bigger underlying diagnosis.


During conversations with your child, it can be helpful to remind them of times that they've felt badly about something, how the situation resolved and how their bad feelings eventually subsided. Helping them recall ways they have gone through in the past to problem-solve past pains can remind them of the skills they already have for dealing with present ones.


Use our 80+ in-depth discussion cards in the Empower Empathy toolkit that gear specifically towards to dwelling deeper on how to deal with big emotions and life's difficulties that we experience everyday. These questions are therapeutic and cathartic for both parents and children. Sharing both of your viewpoints on these Power-Up discussion topics on a consistent basis not only create stronger bonds and provide closer connections with your children, but also further aids your family values and understanding of each other in a positive and supportive environment.


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