In the time leading up to the teenage years, your ordinarily sweet and well-behaved child may begin to exhibit a bit of defiance. Preteens are so anxious to become teens and to become more independent and in control of their own lives that they often begin to challenge your rules, cross the line and see exactly how much they can get away with before you draw the line. Relax -- you're not the only parent going through this defiant preteen behavior. However, you also don’t have to put up with it and it definitely doesn’t have to lead to horrific teenage behavior.
Acknowledge your preteen’s positive behavior and praise her for it, advises Dr. Alan Kazdin, from the Yale University Parenting Center and Child Conduct Clinic. Defiant behavior is often used as an attention-seeking method, and when you spend all your time acknowledging your preteen’s negative behavior -- even when you are yelling, punishing or disapproving -- you are giving her attention, which is exactly what she wants. Instead, focus on her good behavior and give her plenty of praise for her. Good attention is better than negative attention, and you are more likely to put an end to her defiance by making her feel good about her compliance.
Enforce consequences for your preteen’s defiance immediately and without hesitation, advises Kazdin. Say your preteen decides he wants to ignore your request to stop what he’s doing and come to the table for your family dinner. Instead of asking him two or three times to do what you ask and warning him that if he doesn’t you are going to discipline him, simply discipline him the first time he ignores you. Walk up to him and turn off the computer he’s playing on or take the remote controls away from his video games. Tell him that he is losing that specific privilege for the rest of the night/weekend as a result of not listening to you the first time. He will quickly learn that the consequences of being defiant are no fun and he will more than likely begin listening to you.
Take away privileges, ground her or give her extra responsibilities to discipline your defiant preteen. Use whatever form of discipline you think will work best for your preteen and her personality, but do not hit or spank her, advises the American Academy of Pediatrics. Defiant behavior should not be met with physical violence, as it is more likely to cause your preteen to become violent and more defiant. When you attempt to handle defiant behavior, teaching aggressive behavior in its place is a poor move.