Dealing With a Difficult Child

Do you have a “difficult” child? We were blessed with two kids that I would say fit in that category.

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By difficult child, I mean the one that causes you frustration. He is different from your other children. What worked for them, doesn’t work with him. He takes more time, energy, and discipline than all your other kids put together.

Some words that may describe him are: high maintenance, angry, disagreeable, prickly, demanding, or exasperating.

I think most of us with a child like that tend to think that NO ONE else has a child quite like this one! But the truth is, many parents struggle with a child that is a bit more “challenging” than most.

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Dealing With A Difficult Child

How do I deal with a difficult child?

The good news is that God gave you that child, and knows exactly what you are dealing with! He wants you to depend on Him. In fact, He INVITES you to come to Him! (If any man lack wisdom, let Him ask of God, who giveth to all men liberally) How wonderful that the God who created the universe, invites us to come to Him and seek His help. There’s nothing like a difficult child to KEEP us begging God for wisdom!

So what do you do with this child that is so different? What does the difficult child need?

1. LOTS of character training

Did you notice that most of the words that I used to describe the difficult child relate to character qualities? I think the reason many of our “difficult” children are so exhausting to deal with, is because they have more glaring and ANNOYING character flaws than our more compliant children. So the first thing to focus on is their character! Of course, you know I ALWAYS stress that character training should be one of our top priorities (and definitely come before academics), but with the difficult child it is extra important! If you don’t work on those character issues when they are young, it will be even harder as they get older.

2. Structure and Routine

I think that all kids function better with a routine to govern their days, but I have found that it is extremely important with the difficult ones.


For one thing, they know what each day holds, and what to expect. Therefore, there isn’t conflict every day over what the next thing to do is. If your children get used to being able to choose what they are doing and when, then they are going to resent it when you “interrupt” their plans to start your school day, chores, etc. Bad attitudes and complaining usually follow. Since those are already issues with my difficult ones, I don’t want to open the door to that by not giving them daily structure. (By the way, following a daily routine helps build their character!)

Once my difficult kids get used to the routine, they get upset when it is unexpectedly changed. They feel more secure, and the conflicts are fewer, when we are consistent with our daily routine.

Dealing with a difficult child eBook, image shows the book and reads" D oyou struggle with a child who is difficult or challenging?



3. Calm and Consistent Discipline

Since the difficult child tends to get in trouble often, and has that personality that can frustrate you, it’s easy to get into “angry mode” with them. It’s also easy to get resentful because of the extra time and energy they require, not to mention frequent discipline.

How do you stay calm with a difficult child? Since they are often angry, it definitely is important to remember that an angry parent won’t solve anything! “A soft answer turneth away wrath.” I think that means your anger as well as the child’s.

Many moms have asked themselves, “How do I discipline a child without yelling or hitting?” This isn’t always simple as you want your discipline to be gentle, yet also effective. 

I learned that I had to purposefully choose to lower my voice and use a kind tone, when inside I just wanted to yell and let them have it! Forcing myself to be quiet in my response, helped calm me AND the child. Having a written list of rules and consequences helps with this. When the difficult child breaks a rule, you calmly remind them of the rule, and say here is the consequence. It is the same each time, and for each child. This keeps the difficult child from feeling picked on, as they usually get in trouble WAY more often than their siblings. They know the rules and consequences are the same for each child in the home, and that they don’t vary based on your mood that day.

4. Lots of Encouragement

We can’t expect our kids to please us if they don’t know what makes us happy. We need to encourage behavior that we like, so they will repeat that behavior. Many times we get upset at wrong actions or responses, but we have never trained them as to what we expect from them in different situations. Difficult children needs lots of training and practice. Show them how you want them to do something, or how you want them to act, practice it with them, and train them. Then when you see the right behavior, make a BIG deal out of it. Let them know how pleased you are with them. Kids long for their parents’ approval, so praise what you want to see repeated.

If you have a difficult child, remember this truth: children who demand a lot of time are ones that can ultimately “give back” much. The sowing and reaping process works here:  to those we give much, we someday receive much from! God promises results to those who “do not get weary in well doing.”

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Dealing With A Difficult Child

Dealing with a difficult child


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18 Responses

  1. My brother suggested I might like this web site.
    He was totally right. This post truly made my day.
    You cann’t imagine just how much time I had spent
    for this info! Thanks! adreamoftrains content hosting

  2. I would suggest having your child go to a neutral place when he says horrible things, to think about what he has done/said. That will give YOU time to cool down also, before talking further to him. At that point, you need to calmly discuss what just happened, and how he could have responded in a better way. THEN work on the point you are trying to get across and ask him to respond right. It will take practice & consistency.

  3. How can I get my point across when my child says horrible things to me i yell

  4. I feel blessed to have stumbled across you in pinterest Kathy. Thank you for sharing your fabulous insight and tips.

    Parents: a BEAUTIFUL POEERFUL prayer is…….

    “The spirit of the Lord is upon (childs name)
    My God himself has anointed him/her
    He sends his love
    And sets him/her free.

    Say that 50,000 times a day I ASSURE YOU it works.

    Blessings and love to all who are gifted with children. Xx

  5. Dawn, you are welcome — so glad it was an encouragement to you!

  6. Thanks for this encouragement! My husband has been telling me the same things. Thank you for the confirmation.

  7. I am feeling you here. No matter what we do every day is a battle. Diagnosed with depression and seeking help but the process is long and difficult. Feel completely alone and frustrated.

  8. Deb, it IS hard to see that struggling, isn’t it? Praying God will give you wisdom as you deal with her,and that God will work in her heart.

  9. I am having a similar problem with my granddaughter as Lia is with her child. It hurts soo much to see how much she hurts but refuses to deal with it in a healthy way.

  10. Hi Lia! I’m sending an email your way later this evening. 🙂

  11. I have a 11 Yr old daughter
    She refuses to go to school lately. She does not to want to talk every question we ask she answers with I don’t kniw
    Cries screams every morning. Does not want to go to school.
    The patience is running out. Approached the school and teachers but that is not the problem.
    The problem lies with the child.

    Sits at home and eats. Does not talk or respond. What could be the problem. I’m reaching out coz our family have run out of solutions. She is attending a phicystrist but that is a process they have to follow

    But in the meantime what can be done to help her. Very manipulative. Attitude of note. One can’t take it anymore.

    Pls advise.

  12. Mikia, I’m so glad the post showed up right when you needed it. I love how perfect God’s timing always is! Hang in there, and keep loving him and praying for him!

  13. Thank you for this post. It popped up on my pinterest feed and it was everything I needed to hear right now. Our middle son is our difficult child, he’s also very tenderhearted, but today was one of those very difficult days with him. Everything I read was like you could read my mind. Thank you!

  14. I am needing help with consequences. You mentioned having a list is helpful.
    Can you give some good suggestions. I’m running out of ideas!!

  15. Do you have suggestions for routine for a 5 year old homeschooled “difficult” child?

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