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Dealing with Non-Compliant Children

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"Phillip, It's time to turn off the TV and start your homework."

"Just another 10 minutes, Mum."

"No. You agreed that you would turn off the TV at seven. It's now seven. Turn it off."

"Fine. But you can't make me do my homework. I'm not doing it. You're not the boss of me."

Shelley and 10-year-old Phillip have played this scene before. Since he was a mere toddler, Phillip has been a youngster who seems to resist authority for the sake of it.

In the past, when Phillip refused to do as she asked, Shelley felt overwhelmingly angry and frustrated. Her repeated insistence that her son do as she wished and Phillip's continued stubbornness created enormous stress.

It was after one particularly traumatic incident that Shelley decided she and Phillip needed to break out of the destructive pattern. With the help of her pediatrician, Shelley learned that non-compliant children were not aberrant. Rather, they were experimenting with independence, something all kids need to do to establish their own identities.

Shelley also discovered that the greatest trouble occurs when non-compliant children are matched with overly controlling parents in a power struggle.

Enlightened by the new information, Shelley now behaves differently with Phillip. She's less likely to indiscriminately assert her will over his. She also allows Phillip to experience the consequences of his own choices.

For instance, when presented with Phillip's refusal to do his homework, Shelley responds as follows:

"Your right, Phillip. I can't make you do your work. But I will turn off the TV. You may sit there or you may do your homework. It's your choice. But think about tomorrow. What will happen when you arrive in class without your work done?"

Shelley then leaves the room and allows Phillip to work things out for himself.
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