How Do I Know If I Have a Defiant Toddler?
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Defiant toddler has a way of testing boundaries and the limits of their parents. They may be manipulative, demanding, and rebellious. They can also be sweet, cute, loving, and just adorable. These traits are not always easily identifiable or discernible at this age.

Some toddlers test their parents by verbalizing their anger and displeasure with the rules that are in place. Others may act out by having temper tantrums. Still, others may show passive-aggressive behaviour by refusing to participate in an activity they dislike or by turning away from their parent’s request or suggestion.

What Defines a Defiant Child?

Toddlers can also demonstrate some disturbing behaviours, such as hitting their siblings, biting them, screaming loudly for no apparent reason, throwing tantrums when asked to change clothes or bathe/shower/dye hair, insisting on sleeping with a toy that is too dangerous for them to play with, etc.

All of these behaviours require parent’s immediate attention as they are indicators of mental health concerns which can lead to severe problems if left with no treatment options (or inadequate treatment).

We can relate many of these issues to defiance, which means your child is actively challenging you or trying to control you by challenging your authority over him/her (or any adults and authority figure).

The reason for this may be due to your child’s lack of understanding of the rules that you have set up or the fact that he/she does not respect parent’s authority.

Defiance can also occur as a reaction to feeling pushed too far, feeling punished, receiving a command to do an activity he/she doesn’t want to do, or any other interaction where your child feels the need to show you his/her displeasure.

How Do I Know If I Have a Defiant Toddler?
Photo by Xia Yang on Unsplash

In this case, we can consider defiance a “diatribe” which means it is a form of attack on another person who has irritated him/her. Defiance is also an indication that your child may have an emotional problem.

To help you determine if your child is defiant or not, it is important that you take into consideration the following possibilities:


If you have a defiant child, this does not mean that he/she is “bad” or “defiant” as a whole. It means that he/she is exhibiting some behaviours that require your immediate attention as they are indicators of a problem necessary to address.


If your child is defiant, this does not mean that he/she is not happy or content with his/her life. He/she may be very happy and content most of the time, but has a difficult time with certain things, such as going to bed at night, eating a particular food, going to the doctor for a check-up, going on holiday with his/her family, etc.

He/she may also have difficulty expressing himself/herself in certain situations, such as when having a fight with another child or when dealing with authority figure such as teachers and parents.

In these cases, he/she may have learned from an early age to manipulate others by being passive-aggressive and controlling. These behaviours will continue into adulthood and become problematic for him/her in many areas of life, including relationship and work.


If you think you have a defiant child, this does not mean that he/she is being bad or disobedient. It means that he/she is trying to get you to pay attention to him/her by behaving in a way that will get you to listen and follow his/her requests or demands.

He/she may have a hard time expressing himself calmly, so he/she resorts to being aggressive and aggressive in a verbal manner which other people interpret as “bad” by some people.


If you have a defiant child, this does not mean that he/she is not intelligent. He/she may be highly intelligent in some areas of life, but not in others.


If your child is defiant, this does not mean that he/she cannot follow rules or obey instructions. He/she may be capable of following the rules and instructions that you give him/her, but may have a hard time understanding why you are asking him/her to do something or for him/her to follow the rules in the first place.

He/she may also have difficulty reading your facial expressions or body language, so he/she resorts to using his voice and his physical appearance to get what he wants.


If your child is defiant, this does not mean that he/she has low self-esteem.

He/she may have low self-esteem because of things such as feeling teased by other children at school, feeling ignored by their parents when they are around, feeling ridiculed by teachers at school, feeling forced to do things that are uncomfortable for him/her, such as changing clothes or having a bath etc., or any other reason that causes him/her to feel bad about himself or herself.

What is Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) in Children?

Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) means a pattern of negative hostile, and defiant behaviour, which is often obvious to the child’s parents and/or teachers.

The behaviour of children with this defiant disorder shows through oppositional behaviour, temper tantrums, temper outbursts, blaming others for their own mistakes, defiance towards authoritative figures (including parents), and an overall lack of respect for rules and common sense.

We consider oDD a “psychological” defiant disorder because it can cause significant problems in social relationships and at school or work. Children with a defiant disorder often have a hard time with the normal process of social development.

They often have a sense of feeling left out or disliked. In addition, they may have difficulties relating to others and their feelings. They may be aggressive and have a hard time with sharing.

In addition to the behaviour described above, children with ODD may have a number of physical problems such as stomach aches, headaches, skin rashes, earaches, or bed-wetting. They may also have a higher risk of accidents and injury.

If you suspect that your child has ODD, you should seek mental health professional help from a child psychologist or psychiatrist. Your doctor will need to know about your child’s behaviour and how it has affected his or her daily life at home, school, or work.

Your doctor will then look for any changes in your child’s behaviour over time and consider the possible presence of other mental health issues such as anxiety and defiant disorders or depression.

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