Book Excerpt: How to Discipline a Defiant Child

It's a common complaint among parents: Children don't come with manuals.

Now, one psychology professor aims to help parents navigate the difficult road to raising children with his new book.

Author and Yale University professor Alan Kazdin has taken his 30 years of work with children and transformed it into a step-by-step guide for parents in "The Kazdin Method for Parenting the Defiant Child." Kazdin offers tips for the most common concerns, including disciplining a child and how to use the tone of your voice.

For more information check out the book excerpt below.

Your four-year-old's tantrums have become more frequent and intense; they have started to dominate the life of your household. He's not just yelling and screaming anymore — now he throws things, hits, and kicks, too. The bedtime tantrum is the most predictable one, and the one that disrupts home life the most, but he has also taken his show on the road. You've been late to work recently because he melts down in the morning when you leave him at daycare. After other spectacular public performances at the supermarket, restaurants, and family gatherings, none of which you handled very well, you are sure that others see you as an incompetent parent — and you are starting to wonder if they might be right. And, deeper than that, it frightens you to feel the situation slipping beyond your control. You're losing your confidence that you can govern your child, your household, and when you lose your temper, yourself.

You want your nine-year-old to work with you, not against you. You're not asking for blind compliance, but more cooperation would be nice. Right now, she seems to fight you every step of the way, from getting up for school in the morning through homework and dinner and computer or TV time. Sometimes she insists on complete freedom and autonomy; sometimes she acts as if you have to do everything for her. She bickers incessantly with her sister, too. Is it asking too much for you to have a little peace around the house? You're tired of laying down the law, trying to understand her point of view, and using every other strategy that hasn't worked. Frankly, you are fed up with your own child. You find yourself wistfully wondering why you weren't one of the lucky ones who got a nice, easy kid to raise.

Your thirteen-year-old gives you nothing but attitude. On a couple of occasions, he has stolen something or committed an act of vandalism, the most worrisome pieces of a larger pattern of defying authority. You tell yourself that he's going through a phase, that he's just a normal preadolescent, but you fear that he may be heading toward serious trouble. You have tried to talk to him in every way you can think of — punishing, explaining, begging, crying — but nothing works. Your spouse says you are exaggerating, but you feel it's time to face the seriousness of what's happening to your family. Your child has a good heart, but that doesn't keep you from feeling always a little on edge, not knowing when the next crisis will develop.

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