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How parents can deal with a defiant child

Expert tips for parents dealing with defiant children.

Expert tips for parents dealing with defiant children. Credit: iStock

Q. What can parents do when they have a defiant child who they feel bullies them?

A. "It's not at all uncommon for today's kids and teens to boss their parents around," says Sean Grover, author of "When Kids Call the Shots: How to Seize Control From Your Darling Bully -- and Enjoy Being a Parent Again" (Amazon, $15). Resist the instinct to bully back, advises Grover, a social worker who grew up in Freeport and lives in Manhattan.

"Kids are at their worst with their parents, and parents are at their worst with their kids. They say things to their kids that they would never say to another adult," he says. "If you counter-bully, it escalates the conflict."

Grover says he's speaking from experience -- he has two teenage daughters. "My daughter told me to shut up the other day. Totally unacceptable," he says. But if he'd yelled back, "You don't tell me to shut up," which would be many parents' first instinct, there would be no opportunity for dialogue, he says. Instead, his wife jumped in and said, "We don't talk like that to each other in our family," Grover says. That triggered a deeper conversation about how to express frustration appropriately.

Grover will give a free, interactive parenting workshop -- with actors modeling ways to react to different realistic family conflicts -- Friday at the North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center in., Roslyn. Though that session is already full, check for future workshop dates on Long Island.


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