Teens will be teens. Unfortunately for parents, some fights with your children are unavoidable: it’s a natural part of growing up. Testing boundaries and pushing rules allows a child to develop their individuality. In some cases, however, the fights get out of hand. Instead of being an occasional occurrence, they become a staple of everyday life. When the child you know and love turns into someone who feels like a stranger, it may be the sign that you are raising a teen with a defiant disorder.

The most common defiant disorder – Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) – occurs in, approximately, 10.2% of children, although studies estimate it could affect as many as 16% of children. There are many symptoms that can point to a defiant disorder, with boys and girls experiencing the issue differently. Boys will easily lose their temper and refuse to follow rules. Hostility, stubbornness, and mood swings are the telltale signs of defiant disorders. It should be noted that the hostility is typically verbal: violence and petty crimes point to Conduct Disorder, a more severe form of ODD. A child with Conduct Disorder often engages in bullying, physical cruelty, and destruction of property, as opposed to the more “peaceful” ODD.

Ways to Help Your Child’s Defiant Disorder

As a parent, the first step to help a child’s defiance is to learn to choose your battles. It can be tempting to attempt to control your child, but using brute force and fear to coerce a child into submission does more harm than good. If anything, it builds resentment. Similarly, many parents engage their defiant children in battle – sometimes even without realizing it. By fighting, though, the parents legitimize the oppositional behavior. 

It is also important to remember to let arguments go. The process may be a slow one and hanging on every word will perpetuate a negative atmosphere. Instead, try focusing on your child’s achievements and reward them for good behaviors. In their struggles with defiant children, many parents forget to acknowledge their child’s successes. Sure, the relationship might be strained, but that is no reason to stop being a role model.

A child is not a mirror image of the parent, as much as it pains some parents to admit. In truth, they are a person with their own feelings and values. Imposing a standard doesn’t help; letting a child know what you expect of them does. A parent cannot control their child’s actions, but they can communicate with their child to discuss the problems that the child may be enduring. For example, the oppositional behavior might be caused by an underlying mental illness – and unless the parent and the child talk about it openly, the problem could go unnoticed for years.
blueFire is a wilderness therapy program for struggling teens, ages 11 to 17. Our students often grapple with issues such as defiant behavior, depression, anxiety, and other challenges.
For more information about blueFire Wilderness, please call 1 (844) 413-1999 today!

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