by Maria
(Brooklyn, NY, USA)

My 5 year-old boy is very defiant. This causes problems with his teachers. He's extremely brilliant; therefore, he believes he knows everything. This blocks him from learning in school. He is in public school. I intend to start homeschooling him next month (Feb). Please help because I don't want to start yelling at him. Thanks in advance for your help.


Reply from Kristina regarding Defiant:

It's great that you are going to homeschool your child! This will give you far more flexibility, and 100% of the control over your child's learning environment and discipline. It will also allow you to create a smooth flow between home life discipline, rules, behavior and attitudes, and those of "school time."

Because you're going to be able to create a good consistent environment for him, you'll be able to make good, lasting changes in his behavior and help him to be a successful learner and to interact positively with everyone. Remember that changes do not have to be BIG or IMMEDIATE in order to be positive. Often times the changes will be incremental and gradual, and with periodic back-sliding, but over time will be very lasting and beneficial.

Without knowing all of the details, I would say that the first step in controlling a defiant attitude is to create a positive atmosphere. Don't go into homeschooling with a sense of dread and fear, and pass that power off to your child. Being defiant is just his way of searching for the limits and searching for where it is that you'll take back parental control. You also don't want that negativity to infect the environment. Keep things positive and allow space for mistakes.

Create good structure so that your child knows what to expect and what the rules are. This doesn't mean you can't ever deviate from the structure and schedule, but it will help immensely to establish consistency. That way, when your child exhibits a behavior that you need to correct, you will know exactly what to do and what the consequences are.

If normal consequence-setting for negative behaviors doesn't work, then either the consequences need to be more appropriate (fitting the situation) and appropriately timed (immediately when the behavior occurs), or you may need to mix things up - react in a way that your child doesn't expect, and that takes the power to control the situation and the tone away from him and puts it back in your hands.

Additionally, creating an environment that will challenge him intellectually to not just "learn new things" but also retain that information and be able to show it, apply it in different situations, and teach it to others, will help him deepen his knowledge and learning so that he learns how to learn! Sometimes kids who have very active minds will want to jump from one thing to the next, or move on to step 2 or part 2 before they've mastered or truly learned step 1. So finding ways to help him learn better and deeper will be a big part of your endeavor.

Good luck!

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