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Old 07-17-2006, 10:20 PM   #1
ArmsOfLove
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Default I need to say a few things about the idea of defiance

Because this seems to be a sticking point for some moms here, especially new moms learning more about GBD. I said in another thread that defiance means they want something at least as much as you do. That's it in a nutshell. But there's more

I want to explain why I believe the idea of "defiance" or "willfull defiance" is so big a deal in the parenting world and why it's not even an issue in my home.

Here's the thing--inherently we know that punishments aren't fair or kind. We know that they shouldn't be given for accidents. And parents often feel badly about giving them. So the punitive community has distilled things down to punishments being needed for defiance, especially willfull defiance (the worst kind of defiance ). And defiance is basically expressed as "not an accident", "the child knew what they were doing", "I'd already told them and they understood", or "They know." But this is a LOT to assume of a toddler! Developmentally they lack all logic--they are not thinking about things the way you are, they have poor impulse control, little self control, and are driven less by will and more by whim.

Ironically, some of the most punitive parents I know are the best at making excuses for their children--they really don't want to spank or punish so they can warp reality so that everything is an accident. This means they don't have to spank for this thing. One of the most punitive parents I've known would apologize for her child's elbow accidentally slamming into my child's head while her child ran past him at park speeds and veered acrsoss to room to slam into him while my child sat on the floor playing with legos But if it's defiance/willfull defiance then you aren't allowed to make excuses for those things. They *need* a punishment.

As far as I'm concerned, I could honestly care less if something is defiance or willfull defiance or ignorance or an accident or sleepwalking I respond the same way. I don't have to play the game of discerning intent, I assign a positive one because it makes my life more pleasant. And if I see over time that there is some kind of maturity or character issue then I address it during character training. We might read verses and talk about issues and read Aesop's fables or fairy tales with morals, etc. IOW, I *disciple* them in that area. But as far as the action in question goes, if my child spills their bowl of cereal then whether it's done out of anger that I won't give them a cookie, because they were done, or because it slipped, I say, "Uh Oh! Food does not belong on the floor. Here, take this towel and help mommy clean it up." They made a mess, they are going to help clean it up. If they are too upset then I will stop and comfort them and then we will clean it up.

So GBD can be both harder and easier than punishing. Harder, because you need to be creative and tuned in and learn how to work with your child. Easier because you don't have to try and be a mind or heart reader.
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Old 07-17-2006, 10:37 PM   #2
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Default Re: I need to say a few things about the idea of defiance

Thanks, that has cleared up a lot of confusion for me. This part stuck out especially:
Quote:
As far as I'm concerned, I could honestly care less if something is defiance or willfull defiance or ignorance or an accident or sleepwalking I respond the same way.
I was thinking that to "teach" a child to respond more appropriately, you needed to discern their intent. This gives me a new angle on how I think about things.
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Old 07-18-2006, 05:52 AM   #3
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Default Re: I need to say a few things about the idea of defiance

This was very helpful, thanks!
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Old 07-18-2006, 06:07 AM   #4
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Default Re: I need to say a few things about the idea of defiance

Excellent post Crystal. I always enjoy the way you can distill an issue into something clear and easy to think through. Thank you.
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Old 07-18-2006, 06:33 AM   #5
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Default Re: I need to say a few things about the idea of defiance

Thanks, this has been coming up a lot for me lately because they just did a Dobson study at our church.........I really needed that clarification and reminder.

in the instance of the spilled cereal..........I would have thought the examples that you gave would not have been defiance either. BUT what about when I say "your cereal bowl goes on the table" and the child (now I am not meaning a toddler, like my 4yo) picks up the bowl and dumps it out on the floor..........what then? I mean I would still give them a towel and would expect him to help clean it up, but should that "attitude" (I hate to use that word) be dealt with?
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Old 07-18-2006, 07:03 AM   #6
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Default Re: I need to say a few things about the idea of defiance

I know I've been learning and growing in grace-based discipline for just a little over a year, but the idea of defiance had to get thrown out the window pretty early on. You are so right, and I love how you expresed yourself! A defiant act by my child makes no difference in how I handle a situation, except I may feel the need to address other issues. Either character issues, or more likely in my home, organic issues. Defiance is a cue to me to start looking at areas in my kids lives that need my intervention: food, bedtimes, interaction, downtime, or activity.
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Old 07-18-2006, 07:19 AM   #7
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Default Re: I need to say a few things about the idea of defiance

Quote:
Originally Posted by akmyilee
I mean I would still give them a towel and would expect him to help clean it up, but should that "attitude" (I hate to use that word) be dealt with?
Not Crystal, obviously, but I have $.02, as always, if you're interested.

I think about adult Christians I have discipled or shepherded in the past. If there's an attitude one day, we would probably overlook it. If there's an ongoing attitude problem, well, we would lovingly address that with our Christian sister, because that's a character issue that God probably wants to deal with, right?

Piggybacking on what Crystal said, if it's a character issue we'd deal with it, the child and I together. Crystal mentioned "character training"; I've never quite used that term but you betcha if Jody's in a spate where he's lying a lot, we're not only dealing with the behaviors as they happen, we're having Bible class regarding lying, we're having discussions of all types, etc.

I have to agree with Crystal that again, it's about what I'm feeling when the kid does it, if I'm calling it defiance, and that's not fair to the kid because it's not consistent. Kid dumps milk accidentally, I'm annoyed but that's about it, it's not his fault, it was an accident. Kid dumps milk while looking me in the eye after I told him to be careful, I'm a little more than annoyed. On a bad day, I'm outraged! But we've still got the same problem - there's milk on the floor! Needs to be cleaned up! If I start telling myself "he's willful, he's defiant, he did it just to get my goat," well all that assigning of intent does nothing more than fuel that outrage I'm feeling and continue to make me feel like he needs to be punished, that I need to make him feel sorry, whatever. Nothing helpful there.

That's why it's so helpful to just practice assigning benign intent (age-expected, just seeing what would happen, etc.) to keep my blood from boiling, and deal with the behavior, not the intent. And if he's spilling milk every day, he might not get milk for a while, or he might have to drink it on the porch, or only get a cup with a lid, or any number of a million ways to address the behavior, who cares about the intent, trying to figure out his intent just gets me mad and keeps me mad and keeps me from being the kind of gentle parent I want to be.

And if it's a character issue, we deal with it overall, when we deal with character issues. Not just related to the specific behavior (though I might use the behavior or one like it as an example when we're discussing it in a calm moment) but overall. If there's a character issue that God wants addressed, God doesn't just, in my experience, use one type of behavior to get at it. It starts popping out all over the place and it becomes clear that's what's to be addressed next. Not just in my kids, in me, too!

Sorry that was so wordy - I'll go in later and try to cut some of it down! LOL!
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Old 07-18-2006, 07:22 AM   #8
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Default Re: I need to say a few things about the idea of defiance

i've notice myself that whenever DD "defies" me i think she is trying to see if i'll be consistent in my response. i.e. if she throws something at me, i always tell her to pick it up and hand it to me nicely. now instead of immediately throwing something, she rears back her arm as if to throw and pauses a moment to see if i'll remind her to be gentle. when i do, she hands it to me nicely lol
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Old 07-18-2006, 07:41 AM   #9
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Default Re: I need to say a few things about the idea of defiance

Quote:
Originally Posted by katirana
i've notice myself that whenever DD "defies" me i think she is trying to see if i'll be consistent in my response. i.e. if she throws something at me, i always tell her to pick it up and hand it to me nicely. now instead of immediately throwing something, she rears back her arm as if to throw and pauses a moment to see if i'll remind her to be gentle. when i do, she hands it to me nicely lol
To add to that, something that's always stuck w/ me and probably helped me drop thinking in terms of defiance is reading something by Dr. Sears (I htink...) when my oldest was really young. A young child who keeps going back to what they're told not to touch isn't typically being "defiant" or even testing the *parent*. They're testing the rule. They're not thinking: "She said I can't touch it, but I'll show her." They're thinking: "OK, I can't touch the fireplace w/ my hand. What about one finger?... Nope.... what about my foot?....Nope....What about the other hand?....Nope. What about my head?.....Nope. Can I use this toy I'm holding to touch it?....Well, what about the other corner. Can I touch that?" is what's really going thru their mind. That's exactly what my kids did. And I'd hear over and over "oh, he's testing *you*. You need to show him who's boss.." But, no, having read that I could see it - he wasn't testing *me* and it wasn't *defiance*. They were testing the rule. What exactly do you mean by don't touch it?

Kinda silly, but still see this w/ my 7 year old except it's very obvious now what he's doing b/c he'll *ask* instead of doing it. "Mommy, you said we can't color in the living room. What about if we use colored pencils instead of crayons or markers?... Well then, can I draw w/ a pen on that paper if I sit on the floor instead of the couch?...What about if I bring the little table in and do it on that?....Well, can I move the kitchen chair to the very edge of the kitchen like *this* and color on a paper on the chair while I watch TV?...." But, now I *really* see what he's doing. It's not defiance. It's a need to very very specifically define the rule. Not all children have this need, but many do.

So, taken that way, "defiant" 1, 2 and 3 year olds aren't really defiant or naughty. They're being little problem solvers....
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Old 07-18-2006, 09:14 AM   #10
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Default Re: I need to say a few things about the idea of defiance

I can understand with little children. But, what about older kids? Like. . .8 and 9 and 10? The ones that you can actually see thinking about it. . . and then they decide that they'll do it anyway. You can *see* the little wheels turning. The ones that say, "But I wanted to do it anyway, and so I did!" I understand that they wanted to do it. . . but it was *wrong*!
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Old 07-18-2006, 09:21 AM   #11
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Default Re: I need to say a few things about the idea of defiance

Quote:
Originally Posted by snlmama
Kinda silly, but still see this w/ my 7 year old except it's very obvious now what he's doing b/c he'll *ask* instead of doing it. "Mommy, you said we can't color in the living room. What about if we use colored pencils instead of crayons or markers?... Well then, can I draw w/ a pen on that paper if I sit on the floor instead of the couch?...What about if I bring the little table in and do it on that?....Well, can I move the kitchen chair to the very edge of the kitchen like *this* and color on a paper on the chair while I watch TV?...." But, now I *really* see what he's doing. It's not defiance. It's a need to very very specifically define the rule. Not all children have this need, but many do.
My goodness, this is my 5 year old ds! It drives me crazy But now I'll try being more specific
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Old 07-18-2006, 09:23 AM   #12
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Default Re: I need to say a few things about the idea of defiance

Quote:
But, what about older kids? Like. . .8 and 9 and 10?
I've been defiant with authority before. I've not wanted to do what my boss at work tells me and sometimes (wrongly) either passively don't do it, or work extra-slowly, or in my youth I even argued with bosses or teachers (defiantly?!). I had an adoption loss two years ago, and I was MAD at God! I didn't pray for a month!

What do I deserve from God for that attitude, even (especially!) as an adult who ought to know better?

How blessed I am that God doesn't give me the punishment I deserve! How wonderful it is that I get to be with him for eternity, no matter how I choose to behave on any given day! How wonderful that he uses consequences to help me learn and move past these "defiant" attitudes of mine more and more, and blocks the consequences I'm not ready or able to handle! How awesome that God would help me learn while still holding me close! Thank you, God!

My almost-7-year-old will soon be 8, 9, 10, 11. . .do I want to assign malicious intent to him and "make him pay" for his "defiance" because he "knows better?" Or do I want to deal with him the way God deals with me?
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Old 07-18-2006, 09:36 AM   #13
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Default Re: I need to say a few things about the idea of defiance

I agree. Punishments don't help. . . they'll just be sneakier and sneakier about it. But. . . .how to deal? How to teach, disciple, when they don't *want* it, when they reject it? And when the consequences would involve/hurt more people? Seriously? My kids can be very candid. . . .and will readily admit that they knew it was wrong, but they didn't care. Actually, especially the 10 yo, can act very much like a fool, as regards to what the Bible says (as far as rejecting, etc.).
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Old 07-18-2006, 09:55 AM   #14
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Default Re: I need to say a few things about the idea of defiance

I've missed you Amy

Quote:
BUT what about when I say "your cereal bowl goes on the table" and the child (now I am not meaning a toddler, like my 4yo) picks up the bowl and dumps it out on the floor..........what then? I mean I would still give them a towel and would expect him to help clean it up, but should that "attitude" (I hate to use that word) be dealt with?
4 is still SO young. No pre-logic. and pretty ornery My 4yo sometimes does things cuz he really wanted to--even though he knew I said not to. This more comes out with him, because if I say no he knows I mean no, in asking over and over and over again. What I've learned with him is that he struggles with *limits* so my answer needs to be either YES or NO. It's good practice to let my yes be yes and my no be no It's more, though, about not understanding time and space and lacking patience (like so many adults ). He's also incredibly literal. Now, with your example, I can *totally* see my 4yo hearing "Your cereal bowl goes on the table" and thinking, "She didn't say the milk in it" So I'd have him clean up that milk and that would be all he got--at least until I could see him make that connection that if the milk is on the floor it isn't going in his tummy then we might try again.

Also, my 4yo is totally about relationship--and it's even more than my other 4yo's because his love language is quality time and attention. If he's feeling ignored or unloved then his behavior is the quickest indication of that. If my 4yo did that I'd announce time to clean up, *then*, after it was cleaned up, proclaim breakfast over, and pull him to a comfy chair and talk to him or read a book or something that would connect us. And the next time he was taking his bowl to the table I would look him in the eye, and get down on his level, and say, "You need to take this bowl--and everything in it--to the table. Remember that if it's on the floor it won't get into your tummy."
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Old 07-18-2006, 10:09 AM   #15
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Default Re: I need to say a few things about the idea of defiance

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris3jam
I can understand with little children. But, what about older kids? Like. . .8 and 9 and 10? The ones that you can actually see thinking about it. . . and then they decide that they'll do it anyway. You can *see* the little wheels turning. The ones that say, "But I wanted to do it anyway, and so I did!" I understand that they wanted to do it. . . but it was *wrong*!
I would be doing some major character training I would be reading stories with morals, talking about consequences, sitting with them and setting consequences and then imposing them. I encounter this with my 8yo. I do try to remember that 8-10 is *pre* logic so they are *starting* to get it--not totally getting it yet. And I totally see the difference in what it looks like when my 8yo does something as opposed to that same child wen he was 7. Ames and Ilg does have "Your 8/9/10 year old" because these are still very foundational developmental years.

Thjis is the time I'm talking to my 8yo about the man he wants to become. I'm talking about developing good, Godly habits. I sat and talked to him about how God wants him to honor his father and mother because it makes things good for HIM--not for me. That I want him to honor me because God wants him to honor me because, like God, *I* want what is best for HIM! We've talked about what is sin, we've talked about how he was born with a sin nature that inclines him towards wanting to do what he wants but God wants him to learn how to live a holy and Godly life and that means not pursuing that sin. One example I've shared before was when he, a few times when we were out, sneaked food he had been told was not for him. The time he did it in his aunt and uncle's home and she told me (she wasn't upset because it was food for the party but she was concerned because she knew he wasn't supposed to have it and she said when she walked into the room where he was alone he jumped, looked guilty, and then threw it away saying he was done and getting rid of it" So I took him outside and we sat for a minute and I confronted him--speaking the truth in love. I told him that I knew what he had done, and told him what he'd done, and asked him to admit it which he did. Then I explained what sin is--that impulse he feels to do what he wants even when he knows not to. I asked how he feels when he gives in to that--we talked about feeling dirty in your heart because you have done something wrong and need to hide it, how it separates us because he is worried about me finding out. I prompted him with questions, talked about parables and teachings of Jesus. He asked me questions. I talked about how when I give him treat he gets to enjoy them with a clean heart He agreed that feels better. And I talked to him about how I want him to feel good in his heart I then talked to him about how doing this in his aunt's house, and her finding him, wronged her and he owed her a debt he needed to make amends for. We talked about how he could apologize and ask forgiveness and when he asked me if I would say it for him I reflected and validated his embarrassed feelings , and affirmed that he was old enough and brave enough to do this So I walked with him, held his shoulders, and he apologized and asked forgiveness of his aunt Then I took him and hugged him and told him how proud I was of him, asked if his heart now felt clean or dirty, and then helped him find some yummy treat that he could eat. I also reflected and affirmed how important it is for kids his age to have treats and said that I would try harder to make even more treats or arrange for yummy stuff in our daily lives and at parties especially

The problem with punishments, not that I think you are suggesting that I hear you just asking what *to* do But the problem with punishments is that they break communication. I could not have had this conversation with a child who was fuming in his heart because he had just been punished or knew punishment was coming. That would distract him in both his heart and his thoughts. The ugly in his heart would be anger at me, not the natural consequence of guilt that I can talk about from the same team perspective.
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