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Monday, October 11, 2021

8 Tricks To Get a Stubborn Child/Teenager To Comply Willingly

 How Do You Get a Defiant Child To Obey You?

Reputable studies show that a  child’s basic character is formed by age seven. And because character is a product of knowledge,  It is this knowledge that determines a child's action for the rest of his life. His perception of life is based on what he learns at age six or seven. When a child is stubborn at this stage, it sticks with him for as long as he lives unless he's taught to comply.

This said, if you have stubborn children particularly from age four or five, you need to start teaching them to cooperate and obey before age seven.

There are few things a parent can do when a child refuses to comply. Here are 8 simple tricks. With these tricks, you don't have to coarse a child to obey. Obedience will be born out of willingness.

Before we start, let's see some of the reasons for non-compliant behaviour in children.

how to get a stubborn child to comply


Why Are My Children Stubborn?

There are quite a number of reasons for noncompliance in children. When a child is stubborn and not willing to obey any order you give many things could be responsible which are inclusive of but not limited to vendetta( spiting), engagement, or oppositional defiant disorder (ODD).


Sometimes parents' attitudes towards their children are some of the reasons a child may not be willing to cooperate. Like grownups, children don't like parents who dominate and order them around. When that is the case, they begin to resent and spite you as a result.


Another cause of defiant behaviour in children especially within the age range of five to ten is engagement. It is common amongst children that when they are busy with the things they love, the last thing they want is disturbances. Non-compliance is what you get if you think you can just order them like robots without. 

Oppositional defiant disorder

Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) is common amongst children. It is a type of behaviour disorder.

Children suffering  ODD are noncompliant, defiant, uncooperative, and aggressive toward parents, peers, teachers, and other authorities. They are troublesome to virtually everyone they come across.

While there is no veritable cause for ODD, research shows that environment and Parenting Styles are possible reasons for it. This is why it matters the place and manner a child is raised.

8 Ways To Get A Stubborn Child To Comply: Therapy For Aggressive & Non-compliant Kids

We've seen some of the reasons for defiant behaviour in children. It is not an experience any parent should wish for.

Here are 8 ways to make a disobedient child comply.


The worst mistake anyone can make is attempting to fix something that needs no fixing. It is a waste of energy and you could end up damaging the thing.

An occasional," no mom. I don't want to do that" should not be mistaken for defiance. Defiance is consistent deviation from instructions not minding the consequences.


One easy trick to get a stubborn child to comply is through motivation. I believe you won't be a successful parent until you can get a child to obey and willingly submit without being forced. And the only way that can be achieved is through motivation.

How do you motivate an uncooperative child and get him to comply?  instead of saying something like, "You can't watch TV until you do the dishes," try saying, "You can watch TV as soon as you are done with the dishes." That minute change in the way you conveyed the instruction,  carries with it a friendly tone that can motivate your child to get to work.


Everybody likes something for something or some form of appreciation for a job well done. It is only wise to return home with a  pack of gifts for a child who is compliant.

Mind you, don't let a child make demands before he'll agree to do what you ask. That selfish ideology should be discouraged. Buy them gifts without even telling them you would, and don't make it a habit. It is their domestic responsibility to help out with errands.


When children begin to show compliance, one way to encourage it besides buying of gifts is to massage their ego. This means,  learn to praise and appreciate them. Tell them how perfectly they did what you asked them to. If you think they need improvement, let them know in a loving way and teach them how to. Call them the best.


Find the areas a child is always adamant about and put him in charge. Let him be the one to report other children when they desobey. For instance, if a child finds it difficult to clean up his room, make him the "room inspection head" and clearly define his roles. When you do this, he’ll want to clean up his own room first before inspecting other people’s rooms. This is called, “ leading by example.”

A sense of responsibility and a taste of power have greater impacts on everyone including children.


Understand the word stubborn.  It means, adamant, disobedience or unwillingness to take instructions or obey set rules. 

A child who is not ready to comply is not one to be taken flippantly.  You have to get him to cooperate and one way to do that is to ensure consistent discipline.

When discipline is not consistent, children tend to take their parents for granted. Often, they will repeat the same offence with impunity over and over again.


Most issues of non-compliance in children and teenagers may demand special fixes. Perhaps you’ve tried all you could; you even consulted with a child’s psychologist for a solution, but no headway. Then it is time to allow God do what He knows to do best--turning the impossible to possible.  

Billy Graham, a world renowned evangelist once said, “When we come to the end of ourselves, we come to the beginning of God.” 

This is very true. God holds the permanent solution to every issue of life including making defiant children cooperate.


Another remarkable thing to do when a child refuses to obey is to give them scriptures to meditate on. As a Christian family, what else could be better than this? Head over to a few bible pages that talks about obedience and give them to meditate.

Mind you, in doing this, don’t make your intentions known to them. Don’t just come out of the blues and say, “Now, John, read this bible verse so you will learn how to obey instructions.”  You don’t want the child to frustrate your efforts. Instead, make it a daily thing. Whether a child is defiant or not, get them to read and meditate on God’s word every day

Some good bible verses about obedience are;

  • Ephesians 6:1-4
  • Exodus 20:12
  • Proverbs 20:20
  • Romans 1: 28-30

Use them today to help your stubborn child comply. God's word is not empty. It carries with it a tremendous amount of power to transform anyone from inside-out.

Should You Force A Child to Do Something?

How do you discipline a defiant child?  Should you use force?

Forcing is not the best way to discipline a child that won't listen. When you coarse a child to obey, you empower him to disobey even more. This makes sense because even we as adults don't the idea of being dominated. No one will be willing to obey those who are domineering. In the same way, no child will be willing to obey a controlling parent.

Forcing a child against his will is the reasons we end up asking this question, "Why does my child not care about punishment?"

 Like I said earlier, being rude, harsh and commanding will only cause a child to be more defiant. In no time, it could get to a point where he no longer fear punishment.

 How Do You Motivate a Stubborn Child?

Instead of discipline a child that won't listen by caning, the best you can do is motivate him. Discipline should come occasionally and only when a child proves too adamant. And even at that, there is a Way to Discipline Children Without Breaking Them.

How then do you motivate a stubborn child to comply? 

To understand the secret towards a child’s motivation,  Take a second to think through the things someone has to do to you to motivate and get you to obey willingly. What can you think of? Whatever they are, it could be applicable to children.

In general, you motivate a child through respect, empathy, gifts, love and will.

How to make a defiant child to obey

Getting A Stubborn Child To Comply Through Motivation

We have established that Respect, Empathy, Gifts, Love and Will are means through which defiant children can be motivated to obey. Let's see how we can achieve that:


Respect they say is reciprocal. It is not a monopolistic virtue for adults alone. Even children need to be respected before they will be willing to give it back. 

From experience, I realize that most uncooperative children are raised by parents who demand respect but don't give it in return. Any parent who desires compliant children, should learn how to respect them in words, and through understanding. 

Parents shouldn't be seen openly disgracing especially their teenage children. I recall those days when we were whopped in public where everyone could see and laugh at us. The shame alone was enough reason to spite our parents by not complying.


Another way to manage defiant behaviour is through motivating a child by showing empathy.

Empathy is simply putting yourself in a child's shoes so you can feel what he/she feels. Sometimes parents tend to be unreasonable and it shows in a number of ways. 

How can you ask a child to do one thing, shortly after, you ask him to do another, and then another until he is famished? Now he's not willing to continue, and you think he's disobedient. No! He's not. You are the wicked one here.

Loving parents parent will easily get a stubborn child to comply when they begin to understand the child's plight. That means, understanding when a child is not well and needs rest.


The third way to motivate children who are not willing to follow instructions is by giving them gifts whenever they comply. However, there is one thing I must warn against in doing that. 

 Don't ever bribe a child with gifts.  Don't be found say things like, " if you do this, I will give you this." That's dangerous. You are teaching them to be selfish. They will grow with this funny idea that they must receive something in return for every help they render. This is why you must never attach any conditions to whatever you request of them to do. Instead, create a reward system that acknowledges and appreciates their obedience.


It is easier to show love to toddlers and get them to comply. But with teenagers, it is different. 

One strategy to get especially defiant teenagers to comply is to be intentional with loving them. 

It is normal in parents that they feel threatened and challenged  when a child grows to become a teenager. This feeling often makes parents strick with their teenage children as a way to show that they are in control. Sadly, the children start feeling unloved, and consequently, they become stubborn and unwilling to comply.


Children are not mindless creatures. They have a will that they desire to exercise most times. That's why we shouldn't force or impose our will on them.

As a parent, do you ask them the meal they want to eat or the school they choose to attend? When was the last time you take them to the boutique to make their own choices?

It is funny how some parents force their children to eat a meal they don't like and expect them to do the dishes happily.  It is funny to buy a piece of cloth they don't like and expect them to put it on.

I think the question shouldn't be how to discipline a child that won't listen but how to discipline ourselves to listen. Even parents need compliance.

How To Deal With A Stubborn Child In The Classroom

When children reach the level where they are admitted into a school, parent-teacher relationship needs to intensify. This is because they can always learn from each other the best way to deal with the issue of non-compliance in children. 

This is so necessary because I have seen teachers who were sacked for the simple reason that they physically abused a child who was not willing to cooperate or take instructions and orders. To avoid this, a teacher needs all the skills available for behaviour modification including good relationships with parents.

When a teacher is faced with the troubles of an uncooperative child, there are a few things he/she can do to put things under control as quickly as possible.

Get in touch

Reach out to parents to ensure they are aware of their child's uncooperative behavior and enquire how they are able to manage it at home so you can learn.

Enlighten the students

 Students may not be sensitive to their defiant behaviour as a grownup would.

Here is what David Anderson, senior director of the ADHD and Disruptive Behavior Disorders Center at the Child Mind Institute has to say, “Kids are often more tolerant of what others are working on,” He went further to suggest that teachers say something like, “We all have moments where we lose our cool or have difficulty following directions. That’s something we as a class are working on, and our job is to help one another.” 

When they are aware of their challenge and the associated consequences, they quickly develop the courage to work towards stability.

Give Praise

Openly praise any student who shows compliant behaviour. Others might be encouraged as a result.  

Seek help

When things get out of hand, get help from a behavioural psychologist or consult with the school counsellor for the way forward.  

Avoid Cussing Words

Don't just react and begin to use cussing words. Instead of yield results, it could get students to become even more defiant.

To get a stubborn child to comply in school, these are some of the therapeutic measures to follow.

 Strategies To Deal With A Defiant Teenager

The therapy for aggressive and non-compliant kids is different from that of teenagers. Defiance in teenage children is dealt with in a more sensitive and careful manner, else you force them to embrace more social vices like doing drugs. Not just that, it could lead to Anger Issues And Aggressive Behaviour.  It could even cause them to elope from home.

Communication and enlightenment are the keys to get a stubborn teenager to comply. Why this? 

Unlike children, teenagers are more understanding. A bit of more communication can get them to obey in no time, especially if they know how important it is they do what you have required of them.

When a teenager is not willing to obey rules or instructions, instead of being hard and harsh, learn to reason out things with them.

A few things to note on dealing with an uncooperative teenager:

  1. Be sensitive to when to engage them. 
  2. Understand they have their own personal responsibility 
  3. Give room for their social life: Avoid engaging them whenever they are all set to go out. 
  4. Appreciate and reward their inputs and efforts 
  5. Punish only when it is absolutely necessary. That is when it is clear they have accepted that they deserve that punishment.


How To Get Non-Compliant Teens To Work In Group

Teens have a mind of their own. They come from different backgrounds with diverse beliefs and views about life, that alone can lead to uncooperative behaviour. A wise man once said, it is easier to pave the way of a river through the mountain than it is to change the behaviour of  humans.

When teenagers whether it's during school sport's activities or church events refuse to work in a group amicably, the first thing to do is find out why. Malice is common especially amongst female teens which could result in their unwillingness to cooperate in a group.

When you can lay hands on what the matter is, then you can easily find ways to proffer a solution in an unbiased way.

Consider the following tips for getting defiant and aggressive teenagers to work in a group:

  1. Don't force them to work together 
  2. Get them to understand that sticking together to achieve a set goal, regardless of feelings is golden
  3. Educate them on the importance of teamwork 
  4. Praise them for working together
  5. If their reason is that they are not motivated for whatever it is the group was formed for, try and motivate them.


Non-compliance in children is two-sided. It could be an extreme case or a mild one. Whatever it is, to get a stubborn child to comply, combine soft discipline, prayer, and emotional management.


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1 comment:

  1. Very insightful, and deep. it was really helpful and practical. thank you