Why Is My Child Oppositional And Defiant And What Can I Do About It?

Is your child oppositional or defiant or just not listening leaving you feeling like a nag, nag, nag? How can we set them up to get them to WANT to do what we want in order for them to feel good about their efforts to listen? We can at first try to set them up wanting to receive the positive feedback they will get used to receiving for their efforts. We can praise their personality traits and ego strengths like good choices and their burgeoning independence. First try each of these for a steady week or so before going on to the next.

  1. I love when you remember to brush your teeth on your own. It makes me proud of your independence. (Say it before they brush to set them up for success.)

  2. I'm going to ask you to turn off the TV in 5 minutes (warning) THen, If you turn off the TV when I count to 3, you can have dessert.

  3. When you don’t listen to me the first time it makes me feel disrespected. You are a great kid, and good kids listen. You can say this sometime when they aren’t being asked to listen, when the iron is cold, in a neutral space and time.

  4. When you don’t brush your teeth without me reminding you it makes me worried that you don’t take care of yourself and of course you know how to take care of yourself! Please remember to do it so you can be proud of yourself.

  5. Last, and most objectionable, and I will explain why, is the following: If you don’t turn off the TV when I count to three, no dessert.

These strategies put you back in the power position and in control where you need to be and your children want you to be in order to feel safe.

Why don't I like punishment or time out chairs? Your child isn’t learning a lesson from them. Usually they are learning to feel shame and humiliation which is soul crushing. They are learning they are bad, so why bother, and that they get attention, any is better than none, when don’t listen or misbehave. Inside, they are really feeling awful about themselves adn to try to combat this, to feel a sense of efficacy again, they need to level the field by being nasty, behaving badly with a smile, to get you to feel bad by getting rid of their bad feeling and putting it into you. Now they have leveled the playing field and you feel helpless and yell again, and the cycle continues. If you are having trouble with this, please call me so we can turn this around pronto and keep you in the power seat where you belong.

More often than you’d think, regular parenting doesn't work. There are many reasons for this and I will be sharing a few with you such as intergenerational trauma and learning differences.


Intergenerational Trauma, the transmission of trauma from our family of origin, has a huge effect on parenting. We all were children and we all had parents. Some of our parents did a better job than others, and let’s face it some just didn’;t do a very good enough job. The pain and anger experienced can be stored deep inside as trauma that you are not consciously aware of, and that has an impact on how you feel about yourself and how you parent. Sometimes, a child can be a voice piece for our own unexpressed feelings, or sometimes we might project into them what we don;t know we don’t like about ourselves. Parenting doesn’t come with a roadmap and if you weren’t parented as well as you should have been, this can complicate parenting. I will write more about that later.

Maybe you have a highly sensitive child who struggles with a difficult temperament, who might look angry on the outside but is really overwhelmed on the inside. He/she may be perfectionistic, bossy, provocative, draw you into battles and power struggles, to try the only way they know how to feel better. Your child may have a diagnosed or undiagnosed learning difference. Sometimes, you both may be highly sensitive which makes regulating feelings hard and therefore managing emotional overload or sensory overload and meltdowns in your child even harder. I am here to help and I’ll share lots of information about this soon.