Five-to-Ten-Year-Olds and Defiance
During these years, your child is maturing physically, socially, emotionally, and academically, but in much more subtle steps than before. Growth is slower and steadier, which usually makes for a calmer kid, but defiance still happens.
Inside the Five-to-Ten-Year-Old Mind
At this age, you may see your child struggle in some areas (academic or otherwise) and flourish in others while you alternatively anguish and swell with pride. It's important to celebrate and build on your child's successes, refrain from comparing him to others who do better, and gently but firmly support your child in areas where he's having trouble. Again, these areas aren't always academic, they can be social, athletic, spiritual, logical, and so on. These are the years when your child's aptitudes and desires will develop into the strengths that later lead him to higher learning and career choices.
Multiple intelligences (MI) theory was developed by psychologist Howard Gardner in the early 1980s. It originally encompassed seven types of intelligences, though more have been added, and has been instrumental in broadening schools' curricula to consider other learning styles. However, it has been widely criticized as being Gardner's opinion and impossible to prove.
Even if you subscribe to the idea that your child's particular strengths are not given much consideration in a traditional school setting, you can't very well excuse him from classroom learning. For one thing, your analysis could be wrong. For another, you not only undermine his education, you give him the mistaken impression that if a system doesn't work for him, he can drop out of it and still be fine, which will severely impact his ability to get along with others and hold a job as an adult. What's more, it's extremely rare that a child is so smart he gets bad grades out of boredom; much more likely is that he hasn't learned yet how to harness his potential in the classroom. Only requiring that he actually do the work will help him, and the last section of this chapter will show you how to do that.
Why Five-to-Ten-Year-Olds Defy Authority
Even at this age, it still comes down to rewards, rules, and consequences, and the need for consistency. Though you need to adapt the rules for an older child, they are still rules, and everybody in the house must respect them, with exceptions happening only a few times per year. Without plenty of rewards and praise for good behavior and rules and consequences that are consistently enforced, your child will continue to defy you.
Children also defy authority when they find a new weapon to use: the power of reason. “It's time for bed,” can be met with, “But I have a science project I have to finish!” “But I haven't had dinner!” and “But you said I could watch a movie tonight!” In these cases, repeating the rule is warranted, but it must be kept short so that the child doesn't begin using conversation as a way of procrastinating. You'll have to strike an assertive balance between the passive, “Okay, I guess you can stay up fifteen more minutes,” (or quietly allowing the child to disobey) and the tyrannical yet still ineffective, “Get your butt in bed or I'll spank you so hard …!” responses. An effective response to any of the above is, “That's true, and it's also true that you've had plenty of time to do other things. Now it's time for bed.” If your child doesn't comply within five seconds, issue the consequences. As for the excuse of a science project that needs finishing, your child will also have consequences at school, and you can't save him from them, or he will repeat the same behavior next time.