Parents Versus Defiant Children

By Diana Flores, LCPC

More often than not, I meet with parents who are frustrated with their children’s behaviors. They will say things such as “What have I done wrong?” “Why won’t he or she listen to me” In most cases, the parents have internalized their children’s behaviors and they see these negative behaviors as their children being defiant towards them on purpose. In reality a child might just be acting out due to being unable to express a feeling appropriately. A child has to get used to three main worlds. The first one is the home life, the second one is the school life and the third one is the social life. A slight disruption in any of these worlds can contribute to a defiant child. A child’s home life is usually the place where the child feels the safest, and as a consequent it is also the place where he or she might let out some more steam. A child could be acting out at home due to something a friend said, or due to not understanding something at school. Whatever the case may be, it is important for the parents to stay mindful of the fact that their child is in distress and what they need more than a timeout is a loving and understanding parent. As a parent prompt your child to talk about their day by engaging them in age appropriate activities. For example, sit down and play with them and while playing ask them to tell you about their day, or simply ask them to draw the best and worse part of their day, and you will be surprised at how much you can find out. As therapy unfolds, and children learn about feelings and emotions, the parents often end up realizing that their children were only crying out for help.