Managing Defiant Children- How to Best Respond to Modify Your Child’s Disruptive Behaviors
At HeadFirst Counseing, we never diagnose kids.
The problem with diagnosis is that it often leads to a very narrow view of the child, rather than looking at the child as a whole- especially for children that are displaying emotional or behavioral concerns. When children that are acting out behaviorally get labeled or diagnosed as ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder) it can worsen the situation by taking responsibility away from both the child and the parents. Holistic treatment including both individual play therapy and parenting support is the best approach to modify children's disruptive behaviors.
Children that are oppositional or defiant often have low self-esteem and self-worth. They often believe they are not as good as others, and therefore become defiant in order to feel more powerful or more in control. These feelings of power and control can compensate for the inadequacy these children sometimes feel.
The first line of defense in modifying an oppositional child’s behavior is non-directive play therapy. Play Therapy provides a safe and accepting environment in which the child can express negative emotions such as anxiety, inadequacy, fear, and low sense of self-worth. When children experience these feelings being accepted by the play therapist, the child is able to accept these feelings within him or herself. Acceptance and awareness of feelings in children leads to modification of behaviors as children are able to express their feelings in more appropriate ways.
Parenting Support services at HeadFirst Counseling are also very beneficial in treating children that are defiant or oppositional. In parenting sessions, parents learn how to connect with their child on an emotional level so the child feels accepted and felt by the parent. Once this emotional attunement between parent and child is achieved, the child is then in a more open position to receive redirection from parents. Parents are then able to redirect their child’s behaviors to more regulated, self-enhancing, and pro-social behaviors.
In the parenting sessions, parents learn valuable skills such as how to set consistent limits with oppositional children, how to reflect and respond to children’s emotions, and ways to help empower their child to help the child increase his or her overall feelings of self-worth and self-esteem. With the combination of play therapy and parenting support, parents and children are able to navigate difficult childhood behaviors and develop ways of supporting and connecting with one another.
Contact our Dallas office to find out more about our play therapy or parenting services.
HeadFirst Counseling, Dallas TX