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Non-Compliance in Your Children, Some Tips for Parents

Non-compliance is the family therapist's big word for your child not obeying you when you have asked him or her to do something. It is helpful because it is descriptive, and because it may also motivate us as parents to move our kids from being non-compliant to being compliant.

Here's how we are going to define the term "non-compliance" in children:

1. The child fails to begin doing what he was asked within a reasonable amount of time (15 seconds);
2. The child fails to keep doing what he was asked until the job is finished;
3. The child fails to follow previously taught rules of conduct in a specific situation, such as at church, at school, at the store, or with friends;

When your child is non-compliant you need to take action. You simply cannot ignore the behavior hoping that it will go away. Deal with the situation yourself, or consider getting some professional help in tough situations. Non-compliance should be treated because:

1. It is the most frequent complaint of parents seeking help in clinics;
2. It underlies most negative interactions between family members and the child;
3. Because disruptive-aggressive behaviors usually do not occur randomly. Instead they occur in "bursts" and are usually associated with having asked the child to do something.

Over the years I have developed some presuppositions with respect to children and their behavior. I'd like to pass this on to you, as parents, with the hope that it will help you in dealing with your non-compliant child. They are:

1. Kids are weird. Children do not think like adults do, they do not process information as adults do. The do not see the world around them as adults do.
2. Kids are fools. This is not original with me. King Solomon, reflecting on his growing family (remember he had 1,000 wives and many children) said this a long time ago. "Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child," is the way he put it. Simply said, "Kids will do foolish things, they are not yet wise." It is our job as parents to teach them wisdom.
3. We often EXPECT more out of our kid's behavior than we expect from ourselves. We want others to excuse faults in us, yet we will expect perfection in our children. This needs to change.
4. Children do things on purpose. Sometimes your child will misbehave on purpose. He is testing you. He is observing you. Draw the line now, or you will be sorry later.
5. Child behavior is not random. See number 4.

Here are two phrases for parents to remember in understanding your children:

A child's behavior occurs because of who the child is, what the child knows about you, and what the child wants from you.

The child will do things either to get POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT, or to ESCAPE or AVOID SOMETHING that he does not want to do or have.

So please spend enough time with your child to let him know that you are on his side, and that you want the best for him. There are certain things that our children need to know in order to be successful in life, and one of those things is knowing how to listen and obey parents. Stay the course and be consistent with teaching your child wisdom and compliance. To learn more about helping children, visit http://www.addinSchool.com.

Douglas Cowan, Psy.D., is a family therapist who has been working with ADHD children and their families since 1986. He is the clinical director of the ADHD Information Library's family of seven web sites, including http://www.newideas.net, helping over 350,000 parents and teachers learn more about ADHD each year. Dr. Cowan also serves on the Medical Advisory Board of VAXA International of Tampa, FL., is President of the Board of Directors for KAXL 88.3 FM in central California, and is President of NewIdeas.net Incorporated.

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