Parental Effect on Defiance

“There’s no such thing as ODD. It’s just bad parenting.”

We are still unaware of what may cause ODD so how do we know it isn’t just bad parenting? Or maybe it is? It can be difficult and frustrating at times when you have a very defiant teen in your house that makes poor decisions. Although this may seem like a full grown adult, the teenage brain is still developing (source).

A longitudinal study of 160 children (infancy through adolescents) suggests that the more sensitive parenting style produced less inhibited or anxious individuals (Effects of Maternal Sensitivity and Child Inhibition). If a child is raised with very understanding, sensitive parents and has less anxiety, inhibition and is less shy, what does that say of those children who are raised with very angry, abusive, neglectful or insensitive parents? Will these children become more defiant as adolescents?

Parents have a very great effect on their child’s development past the inherited genes. In early infancy (0-1 years) infants learn to either trust or mistrust the world around them, simply by having their needs met by their caregiver. If parents don’t help their child achieve certain milestones in life it can affect their mental development.

Defiance is a normal part of adolescent development. Children test their boundaries and limits. They want to know what they can and can’t get away with. There is a difference between regular developmental defiance and ODD. If there are very lax rules in the child’s home it may lead to an increased cause of defiance. If the child is use to getting what he/she wants by throwing a tantrum, the child will try and do that with other adults, including teachers.

It is easy to play the blame game but parents are responsible for a majority of their child’s behavior and actions. If a child has not been appropriately tested for ADD, ADHD, or ODD it may be possible that this child is simply defiant because it is a method that has worked in the past to receive attention.

As a teacher how can we deal with students who are defiant simply because they can get what they want?  In a classroom setting this can cause a scene and be distracting. This is where classroom management skills would come in handy. If there are clear, concise rules, procedures, consequence and punishments, the students (all students) will know what to expect. Once the student makes the association that they wont get what they want by screaming and throwing a fit they will have less tantrums.

But what about those students that this method doesn’t work for them? Perhaps these individuals have a more serious issue that needs to be addressed. A very difficult question to answer would be, how do you give parenting advice to the parents of these children without offending them?

Developmental milestones (physical and mental) are very important to the outcome and the future of the child. As parents, we are the ones that must be there to help the child as best we can. If that means special help because of a certain behavioral problem, learning disability, or mental disability, we need to be able to provide what the child needs. As teachers we need to be aware of various disabilities and their symptoms and get the student the help they need to be successful in school and in life.

Further readings

Quality of Parenting

Rebellion and Delinquency


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