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How to deal with a defiant argumentative child?

Q: I have a son aged 10 years who is very intelligent, logical and normal in all behavioural activities except that he is defiant and sometimes answer backs and argues excessively. He has mood swings from time to time and this happens when he is tired or hungry. What do you mean by oppositional defiant disorder or conduct disorder?

A:Many children find it difficult to cope with hunger and fatigue; their tolerance is low. It seems to me that the best approach is to prevent a moodswing, by not delaying the childs regular routines. Sometimes, we are watching a programme on TV or entertaining guests and we feel that the child must learn to adjust to different situations. For some children, it is a metabolic response to hunger. Sleep and food routines should not be changed for every passing whim. The best time to teach your child to modify his behaviour is to talk to him gently and affectionately, when he is in a good mood and tell him that you get upset when he acts up. Some of it will get controlled as he grows up. I would not be willing to label talking back or arguing as conduct disorder. Parents must not lose their temper when the child loses his. If they do, there is only escalation of the problem, not a solution. Make sure the child has adequate physical exercise during the day, and cut down on noisy and unsuitable TV shows. Talk to the child on what he is reading, who his friends are and so on. Small acts can make a big difference.

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