Define Deviant Child Behavior

It is not uncommon for your child to speak out, throw a tantrum, disobey you or even argue with you and other adults, such as their teachers. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, most children act out when they are hungry, tired or otherwise uncomfortable. Sometimes, however, a child who acts out consistently may have a conduct disorder.


WordNet, Princeton University’s online dictionary, defines deviance as behavior that is deemed unacceptable or inappropriate 1. A child whose behavior is consistently offensive or intolerable, or if the behavior is extraordinarily different than other children of his age and developmental range, may have a behavioral problem, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Talk to your family physician if you are concerned about your child’s behavioral problems.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder

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Medline Plus discusses an actual conduct behavior called Oppositional Defiant Behavior (ODD), which is characterized by disruptive “patterns of disobedient, hostile, and defiant behavior toward authority figures.” According to The Mayo Clinic, a child with ODD will have oppositional behaviors that are persistent, disruptive and last more than six months 2. Some signs of ODD are tantrums, arguing with adults, disobedience, blaming others, anger, cruel behaviors, academic problems or difficulty maintaining friendships.


Treatments for obedience problems, ODD or deviant behavior can begin with therapy 1. The Mayo Clinic suggests both family and individual counseling to help your child manage her anger and improve communication within the family. Similarly, parent-child interaction therapy can become extremely useful in learning parenting techniques that are helpful for dealing with deviant child behavior 1. Your child may also learn cognitive problem solving skills, social skills training and parent training.

Home Solutions

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Some techniques for managing deviant behavior can be done at home 1. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry suggests always positively reinforcing good and cooperative behavior. Create rules and guidelines that are clear and easily manageable for both you and your child. Be consistent with punishments and rules. One of the most important aspects of managing a deviant child is making sure you are staying healthy and making good life choices 1. Managing stress, getting rest, eating well and having hobbies will only help keep your mind strong and clear while dealing with your child’s behavior.


The Mayo Clinic says counseling for yourself is extremely important. While dealing seriously with your own issues, concerns or stressors, you free up mental and emotional space to deal with your child’s problems to help manage his behavior. One way to handle stressors is learning ways that can calm you down when you feel angry. This will help model good behavior for your child. Also, forgive your child each time he does something wrong. Letting go of each event can help you manage new events as they arise. Holding onto anger or frustration from the past will only damage your relationship and progress.

  • The Mayo Clinic says counseling for yourself is extremely important.
  • Letting go of each event can help you manage new events as they arise.