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Refuses to follow the rules or behave like you or other adults expect:

It is unusual to see a child who lives in a home
where there are reasonable rules and who is following those rules but having
severe behavior problems at school or in the community. Putting this another
way, children who cooperate with and get along with their parents seldom get
into repeated trouble away from home. Youngsters first learn to cooperate and
get along at home; and if they do not, they likely have serious problems away
from home.

The first question to ask if your child exhibits
this sign is whether you have rules and expectations for your child. Far too
many youngsters are left to fend for themselves. Basically they are allowed to
do whatever they want, whenever they want, with whomever they want so long as
they do not bother anyone at home. They have few rules and little supervision.
That combination is a nearly certain way to end up with a child with serious
behavior problems. Children who have not
been taught to behave do not behave very well.

Next, children develop serious behavior problems
in homes where the rules are on-again, off-again. Sometimes they can do as they
please and other times nothing they do is right. Sometimes their parents ignore
their behavior and sometimes the reactions the children get are out of
proportion to anything they did or did not do. This pattern is often seen in
homes where there is violence, alcohol and drug abuse, adults moving in and
out, or illegal activity. It also is seen in homes where the adults themselves
have serious behavior problems. There, children learn to behave just like one
or both of their parents.

Alternatively, youngsters with this type of
maladjustment sometimes grow up in homes where the rules and expectations are
simply unreasonable. They cannot follow the rules and cannot get along. Also,
the same difficulty comes up if a child has other problems keeping him from
being able to do what is expected. For example, learning or serious emotional
problems can keep children from doing what people expect. In this case, the
expectations are actually unreasonable for the specific child.

If your child is not following your rules, these
questions need answered.

Do you have rules and expectations your
child understands and can follow?

Do the rules stay the same, without
changing unpredictably?

Does your child get positive feedback
when he follows your rules?

Does not following your rules
consistently lead to negative feedback your child can understand and handle?

Discipline needs to be there; but it needs to be
consistent, in proportion to what happened, and not just another version of the
tough guy approach. It is often better to ask your child what should happen
when he does not follow one of your family’s rules. Youngsters often have
suggestions that are both reasonable and appropriate. Family discussions about
rules also can serve as an important part of your child’s learning to cooperate
and get along.

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