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Defiant 10-Year-Old


My 10-year-old is very defiant. I have tried rewards and taking away privileges, but neither seems to work. He does not care if he loses privileges. He is becoming physically aggressive. I have tried counseling, but it has been ineffective. What else can I do?


10 Year Old

There is a parenting technique you could try called Corrective Teaching. Giving consequences is part of this practice, but it also includes teaching appropriate behaviors. This is an element that is often neglected with a strict reward or punishment approach.  

Children often know what they are NOT supposed to do, but they are unclear as to what their parents expect of them instead. Corrective Teaching combines clear messages with consequences, and allows for ​opportunities to practice the appropriate skills to help parents respond to problem behaviors.  

First, describe the problem behavior to your son and firmly tell him to stop. Give a negative consequence, either taking away a privilege or assigning a chore. Next, describe the positive behavior he should use instead of the misbehavior. Have him practice the positive behavior you have described. If he practices the desired behavior with sincere effort, he can earn back part of a privilege. This “carrot” should motivate him to continue to replace poor behavior with appropriate behavior.  

Do not expect immediate results. This will take time, patience and encouragement. In the meantime, if you are interested in counseling or parent support groups, we have a database of referrals. We are also available 24/7. Call us at 1-800-448-3000.