Be patient if your child is using silence as a weapon. If your child is refusing to talk to you about something you’d like to know more about, don’t pepper him or her with lots of questions, since doing so will likely just incite a battle. Instead, ask God to help you be patient and remain calm, and eventually your child will open up to you.

Lower a stubborn child’s defenses. Ask God to help you approach your child with humility when he or she is acting stubbornly. Rather than demanding that your child do what you say, simply ask your child to consider the issue by saying something like: “I may be wrong, but [present your point of view].” This will encourage your child to think through the issue.

Don’t label your child. Just because your child causes problems with power plays doesn’t mean that he or she is a problem child. Your child’s behavior shouldn’t define him or her; only your child’s relationship to God should do so. Even if your child is diagnosed with a behavioral disorder such as ADHD, he or she still has great God-given potential to contribute positively to the world.

Let your child know you care so he or she will care what you know. Your child will be much more inclined to listen to you if you show your child how much you care on a daily basis. Seek out your child’s opinion. Win his or her cooperation. Allow your child to contribute to your family’s household so he or she will have a sense of belonging and significance. Extend grace and forgiveness to your child regularly, just as God does for you.

Help your child reach his or her goals in healthier ways. Get to know what goals your child is trying to reach through his or her powerful behavior. Acknowledge your child’s feelings, and then speak the truth in love. Redirect your child’s energy into meeting his or her goals in ways that are healthier than engaging in power plays. Encourage your child to discover and develop his or her God-given talents and put them to use to contribute to the world.

Adapted from Parenting Your Powerful Child: Bringing an End to the Everyday Battles, copyright 2013 by Dr. Kevin Leman. Published by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, Grand Rapids, Mich., bakerpublishinggroup.com/revell.    

Dr. Kevin Leman is an internationally known psychologist, radio and television personality, and speaker who has taught and entertained audiences worldwide with his wit and commonsense psychology. A bestselling and award-winning author, Dr. Leman has written more than 40 books about marriage and family issues, including The Birth Order Book, Sheet Music, Making Children Mind without Losing Yours, and Have a New Kid by Friday. He has made house calls for hundreds of radio and television programs, such as Fox & Friends, The View, Fox's The Morning Show, Today, Dr. Bill Bennett's America in the Morning, 700 Club, CBS's The Early Show, James Robison's Life Today, Janet Parshall, CNN's American Morning, and Focus on the Family, and has served as a contributing family psychologist to Good Morning America. Dr. Leman and his wife, Sande, live in Tucson, Arizona. They have five children and two grandchildren. Find out more at www.birthorderguy.com.  

Whitney Hopler, who has served as a Crosswalk.com contributing writer for many years, is author of the new Christian novel Dream Factory, which is set during Hollywood's golden age. Visit her website at: whitneyhopler.naiwe.com.

Publication date: October 11, 2013