All children are oppositional from time to time, let's face, as adults we are too. In the similar ways we may be triggered, children may often be oppositional when tired, stressed, hungry or upset. Their behavior takes center stage and they may argue, roll their eyes, talk back and disobey. While for toddlers and early adolescents, oppositional behavior is a normal part of development, if behavior becomes openly hostile, this may be cause for concern. Does your child have an ongoing pattern of defiance and hostile behavior towards authority figures? Does their behavior negatively effect their day to day functioning?
The American Academic of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry lists a few symptoms to be aware of:
Frequent temper tantrums
Excessive arguing with adults
Often questioning rules
Active defiance and refusal to comply with adult requests and rules
Deliberate attempts to annoy or upset people
Blaming others for his or her mistakes or misbehavior
Often being touchy or easily annoyed by others
Frequent anger and resentment
Mean and hateful talking when upset
Spiteful attitude and revenge seeking
If your child exhibits such symptoms consistently within multiple settings, it may be time to seek help to address such concerns.
I have found that working with the child and parents is the most comprehensive way in helping reduce negative behavior. That may include collaborating with the parents on managing their child's behavior, individual therapy with the child to develop coping skills, conflict management, and anger management, family therapy to help improve communication and understanding, as well as social skills training for the child. When a child is being disruptive, they are communicating something deeper than just their negative behavior. Finding out that reason is one of the first steps in dealing with the issue.
While medications may be helpful in some situations if there are coexistent conditions such as ADHD, mood disorders or anxiety, it often does not resolve the issue. Of course there's no one size fits all approach, but my goal is to listen to the family to best collaborate on an approach in decreasing the disruptive behavior.