• Have a consistent bedtime. This child may have an earlier bedtime than his siblings, since he may need more sleep.
  • Have consistent meal times. We eliminated sugar and provided snacks between meals to keep blood sugar level issues at bay. This helped the intensity of emotion to decrease.
  • Be consistent with discipline, and be sure consequences for each offense are consistent. Allow input so that the child knows you are being fair.
  • One of our rules is no breakfast until morning chores are finished. Our rebel can't handle more than two assignments at any one time. We keep our instructions as few and simple as possible and try to keep them focused on the task at hand.

Discipline
Drastic rebellion sometimes calls for drastic measures. We employed all of these disciplinary tactics at one time or another:

  • If he caused trouble with siblings, he was not allowed to play with them for a time and was assigned to his room. He could play quietly or read books of our choosing.
  • For disrespect, disobedience, or angry outbursts: loss of privileges such as computer time, playing or talking with friends, going on field trips, or participating in classes or any form of entertainment for a given length of time (rest of the day, week, etc.).
  • If the morning went badly or if he had an eruption the previous day, he went to work with Dad with a backpack full of school books. He followed Dad around on the weekends frequently.
  • We have had to say no to many activities. For the most part, people understand. Some think we are too harsh, but they have never seen the rebel who lives at our house. They only know the sweet child who goes out in public. Only after a year's worth of many painful cancellations did our child begin to realize his loss and our commitment to keeping our word. Only then did we begin to see a real change.
  • We have had a tendency to ride the rebel hard and forget about the other children. Stay consistent in enforcing the rules with all of the children so that no "respecter of persons" or bitterness is fostered.
  • Don't drag out the discipline. Take care of it quickly. When it's over, allow her the grace to start over. Don't bring it up again. Always pray together afterward.
  • If he cannot control his emotions, he is grounded to his room. I have him read the Word and pray before he is allowed to come out so that he will have an acceptable attitude.

Change the Way You Respond
This type of child tends to be extremely intelligent and to push the boundaries wherever possible, employing manipulative strategies. They are also good at blame shifting. How should we respond?

  • When I react harshly to disrespect or disobedience, the battle escalates. My grievous words stir up anger in both of us. I have to be quiet and calm, purposing to be kind. Falling into anger and bitterness against the child does no good, as our anger never produces the righteousness of God.
  • Continuing to repeat a command only frustrates both of you. If the argument is over a command you've given, don't continue repeating the command. Set aside the physical action you want done and take the spiritual action of dealing with the heart issue of rebellion.
  • Don't entertain an argument or try to have the last word. Stop yourself in the middle of the battle. Drop it and allow the Holy Spirit to intervene. Rebels love to battle, so this will make them angry. You may need to isolate the child until he has calmed down.
  • Don't take personal offense. The rebel is not the enemy; we are doing battle with the enemy of her soul.
  • Instead of pointing out all her faults, share your own struggles with her. Come up with word pictures or analogies to show her the effect of her actions.
  • He feels like a failure, so watch him closely with the purpose of praising him. Find the good, however small. Praise any attempt at obedience or kindness. Praise for the lack of meanness.

Love Your Rebel
Your child needs to see and feel your love, and not only when it is manifested as correction.