What is Defiant Behavior and How Can You Handle It?

by Marie Miguel

Image source – Pexels.com

The study of human behavior is fascinating. Each individual has a different way of relating to the world. It depends on how you were raised and what environmental influences were around you growing up. Some people are laid back, while others are stubborn. Everyone has their own way of expressing an opinion. It can become challenging to interact with people who are defiant. Regardless of a person’s age, anyone can be oppositional. Here are some signs of rebellious behavior and how you can manage it. 

What is defiance?

When a person is defiant, they ignore what is being asked. They react with extreme resistance when someone asks that individual to do something. When you think of defiance, you might imagine a toddler’s behavior. Envision a parent asking their little one to take a bath. In the act of defiant rebellion, the toddler screams “no!” This is a prime example of outward defiance. Adults can be defiant just as much as kids can. Imagine a workspace where the supervisor asks their employee to be nice to a customer when the customer in question is cruel. The employee refuses to obey their boss; they are behaving defiantly. You can act out against an authority figure, whether you’re old or young. 

How do you deal with defiant behavior?

It’s crucial to understand the source of a person’s defiance. Instead of judging the individual for being rebellious or difficult, try to see things from their perspective. That way, you can confront the behavior and resolve the conflict with the defiant individual. Take the example of the toddler who doesn’t want to take a bath. Perhaps they’re being defiant because they don’t want to be interrupted from playing to do something else. In that case, a parent can tell their toddler that they can play for 10 minutes after taking their bath. It’s important to remain firm and consistent when you’re targeting defiant behavior.

Do not waver from your stance; otherwise, the person who is rebellious won’t take you seriously. That applies to being involved with a defiant adult as well. If you think about the employee who is disobeying their boss, the supervisor can take a moment to try to understand why their employee doesn’t want to give the customer the benefit of the doubt. Maybe that individual is asking the employee for something absurd or unreasonable. Regardless of the customer’s demands, the supervisor must insist that the employee is kind. However, if the customer is abusive to the employee, they have a right to fair treatment. But if that staff member is acting defiantly because the customer hurt their pride, the supervisor needs to stand their ground.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder

Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) is a condition where an individual is resistant to authority. They may become aggressive or even violent towards an authority figure. Symptoms of ODD are:

  • Aggression
  • Impulsivity
  • Losing temper or excessive anger
  • Blaming others for one’s behavior
  • Arguing with adults or other people in authority positions
  • Deliberately trying to irritate or upset others
  • Legal troubles  
  • Behaving spitefully and seeking revenge

Oppositional Defiant Disorder can occur in people of all ages. You can have a child who deals with this condition, or you could be an adult who has ODD. Regardless of the individual’s age who has a condition, it needs to be treated with therapy.

Treatment for ODD

It’s crucial for an individual with ODD to seek therapy. A therapist can help that person understand the source of their defiance. Sometimes people with ODD have had inconsistent parental guidance. Their parents may not have drawn firm boundaries with them. The mental health professional can help the person with ODD create structure for themselves and learn to listen to others. If you struggle with ODD, you can see a mental health professional who can support you. If you have a child who has this condition, they must see a pediatric or adolescent therapist. You may see your child suffering in school or acting out. They could have trouble maintaining relationships. No matter their challenges, it’s crucial to seek mental health care when you have ODD. 

Therapy can help defiant behavior 

If you or someone you love is struggling with defiant behavior, a mental health professional can help understand the cause and support the family with these issues. It’s critical to address the behavior right away. Don’t wait to ask for help; the more you ignore oppositional behavior, the worse it gets. Make sure that you reach out for help if you or someone you love is struggling with these challenges. Sometimes defiance is a natural part of childhood and adolescent development. But if you notice that these issues are continuing, help professionals who are experts in human behavior and can help you navigate these issues.


About the writer:

Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health-related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.

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