Dealing with a Defiant Child

Dealing with a Defiant Child

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Almost all parents wonder how to deal with a defiant child from time-to-time. Obstinance or stubbornness is a natural part of the development and something that’s particularly common in toddlers and teenagers! However, excess defiance can be trickier to handle.

If your child exhibits defiant behavior on a day-to-day basis, such as talking back or not doing as they’re asked, it’s important to find effective ways to respond. Before you can do this, you’ll need to determine if there’s a particular reason for your child’s defiant behavior. Common causes of excessive defiance include:

Hearing loss

Undiagnosed hearing loss often presents as defiant or challenging behavior, particularly in young children. If you’re getting frustrated that your child fails to follow instructions or doesn’t respond when you call them, it’s possible that they’re having trouble hearing you.

A simple hearing loss evaluation can confirm whether your child is experiencing any hearing-related issues. If so, appropriate treatment and symptom management will ensure your child’s hearing function and quality of life is improved.


Awareness of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, is increasing but many people are still unaware of the impact it can have on a child’s behavior. People with ADHD often find it difficult to concentrate for long periods of time and they may appear to act without thinking.

Impulsiveness, restlessness, and low tolerance levels are often misattributed to defiance but, in fact, they can be characteristic symptoms of ADHD.

Oppositional defiant disorder

If your child exhibits challenging behavior on an on-going basis, there’s a chance they might be experiencing oppositional defiant disorder. ODD often manifests as temper tantrums, talking back, arguing with caregivers, and refusal to follow instructions. Of course, these behaviors are common amongst children but kids with ODD typically present with more excessive behavior than their peers.


We’re beginning to understand that anxiety is a common problem for adults, but we often overlook the impact it can have on children. Youngsters may find it difficult to verbalize feelings of anxiety, which means it’s more likely to be shown in their behavior. Feeling anxious can be overwhelming, frightening, and frustrating, which often leads to irritable moods, angry outbursts, and avoidance behavior.

Environmental stressors

If there are significant changes to your child’s life, it may affect their behavior, and this could present as defiance. The loss of a loved one, parental separation, or even moving to a new house can be stressful for adults, so it’s not surprising that youngsters feel the impact too.

Keeping a behavior diary and comparing it to family events may help you to identify any stressors which trigger your child’s seemingly defiant behavior.

How to Resolve Defiant Behavior

Understanding the cause of your child’s behavior gives you access to the tools you need to help them. Although there are numerous treatments and therapies available, it’s important to identify the root cause of the behavior in order to use the right combination of solutions.

With the right intervention, family life can improve exponentially and both you and your child can move forward.

Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay.





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