Let’s Talk

Rebellious Children

Q. What are some practical, tangible ideas for parents of rebellious children?

A. Let’s Talk! Is there a possibility the child feels that the rules of the house are more important to the parent than their relationship? Children often rebel at rules when a loving relationship isn’t primary in the home. Is the atmosphere in the home a “punishing” one or a loving one?

All of us—young and older—naturally resist authority. Scripture indicates that rebellion is our very human nature! But, when rebellion occurs in a home, there are some ways to create consensus and help diminish the tension. These ideas in Let’s Talk are not meant to be pat answers to a complicated problem. I don’t ever like to sound like that. I would, however, like to offer a menu of some practical ideas over the next few weeks.

The relationship is the first goal. If there is building of relationships, there is more inclination that the children will want to follow and not resist the leadership. What could you do as a family to make things better? In a loving way, what about asking your rebellious child that question and ask for his/her input? You’ll want to be a good listener and not defensive at this moment. You will have other opportunities for your own thoughts.

I used to ask teachers to ask their students during the first week of school to circle up and have a meeting about what they wanted to happen and what they didn’t want to happen in the classroom that year. One by one agreements were formed and facilitated by the teacher, but the ideas were from the students and there was 100 percent buy-in for the rules they would follow that year. It’s also a model for the family, where rules are forged and agreed upon in emotionally safe family meetings where all feel heard and all input is respected. Kids feel like they are an important part of this process and feel more inclined to follow than rebel because of their own input.

Rebellion shows up the most in conversations and decisions concerning the rules and chores, as well as the discipline issues when rules aren’t followed. So, in the next post, I will share some ideas and language to facilitate that fun piece. In the meantime, let’s think about our parent-child relationship.

For Deeper Reflection

It is because of a relationship with God that I long to follow HIS instructions … in that order!

2 Timothy 3:1-5

“But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power….”

Helen B. McIntosh has a doctorate in counseling psychology and is a national board certified professional counselor and certified in reality therapy. An educator for 19 years, Dr. McIntosh is an author, a highly demanded national speaker and inventor of the Peace Rug®, an international curriculum for conflict resolution.

You can contact me confidentially at DrHelen@braveandresilient.com