As parents, we know it’s normal for children and teens to defy authority or throw a temper tantrum every now and then. They may express their defiance through arguing, breaking rules, or talking back to parents, teachers, or other adults. In most cases, this is part of growing up. If their behavior does not improve on its own, or becomes extreme, you may feel like you have run out of options. Reaching out to a behavioral health provider is a great starting point and could be useful in helping your child live a happier and more functional life.

Knowing the Difference and When to Seek Help

Knowing whether your child is struggling with a behavioral disorder, such as Oppositional Defiance Disorder or Conduct Disorder, or is just dealing with the normal ups and downs of life can be a challenge. Signs of these disorders often include disruptive behavior, patterns of anger, aggression towards adults and friends, and serious violations of social norms.

Things to Try

When working with a child who is acting out, consistency is key. Setting and sticking to a set of rules and consequences will help to improve their resistant behavior. Be willing to re-evaluate and include your child in the conversation about what might be fair and useful in each situation. Be sure to take breaks so everyone has time to calm down, listen to all sides, find a way to connect positively after the consequences, and shift mindsets away from blame and towards finding a solution. Utilizing support such as therapy, counseling, school resources, or parenting classes could also improve the outcome.

Working With Other Adults

Working with other adults, such as family members, teachers, or peers, has shown to be effective in addressing behavioral issues and managing emotions. This is a great way to address change and offers the opportunity to compare parenting plans and gain a new outlook on what may or may not be working.

Working with Your Provider

If your child’s behavior is not improving on its own and attempts at working through it have only led to frustration, contacting a behavioral health provider may be your next course of action. A provider is trained to effectively address underlying problems such as anxiety, depression, and other contributing factors, with the goal of putting your child on a path to wellness.

Kristyn Duffy

Kristyn Duffy, LCSW is a pediatric Behavioral Health provider at Peak Vista’s Enrichment & Counseling Center at Wahsatch. Kristyn has been seeing patients since 2021. She is passionate about the welfare of children and reducing the stigma of mental, emotional, and behavioral health struggles. In her spare time, Kristyn enjoys reading, traveling, thrill-seeking, and spending time with her dog.

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