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Extreme Disobedience in Children

By Candice Hughes ; Updated June 13, 2017

Disobedience in children is one of the most common complaints brought to the attention of pediatricians and other care providers and, when it occurs on occasion, is completely normal. Up to 65 percent of parents believe their child is noncompliant, report Larry M. Kalb and Rolf Loeber in a 2003 review in "Pediatrics." Some children who are disobedient frequently may have a noncompliance disorder, such as oppositional defiant disorder, or are simply dealing with forces, at school or at home, that stress them enough to cause poor behavior. Talk to your pediatrician if you are worried your child is excessively disobedient.

Effects of Disobedience

A child who refuses to cooperate with adults’ requests on a regular basis has strained relationships with peers, parents and other adults and teachers at school, according to Kalb and Loeber. They report that since a chronically disobedient child won't obey rules, he won't be able to participate in group activities such as sports and may even be at a higher risk for physical injury. Extreme disobedience in school can also damage the teacher-student relationship and lead to poor academic achievement.

The Home Environment

If your child is extremely disobedient, talk to your child and consider your home environment or school environment to determine if there are any underlying issues leading to her behavior problems. Think whether family members show each other respect, whether problems in the family are resolved with discussion or arguing, how much yelling there is on the part of parents and other caregivers and whether your family is dealing with excessive stress. At school, consider whether bullying is present and how the child interacts with teachers. Poor academic achievement can also be a factor in noncompliance. Address any problems at home and school to help your child cope and become more compliant.

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Conduct Disorders

If your child has a conduct disorder, he may have difficulty exhibiting positive behavior and will struggle with emotions. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry finds that children with conduct disorders are often considered bad or extremely disobedient, but a conduct disorder can be caused by any number of factors, such as brain damage, genetics, abuse or may even be triggered by a traumatic experience. Some of the symptoms of a conduct disorder include extreme aggression to people and animals, destroying other people’s property, lying, stealing, running away and skipping school. Treatments are available, so talk to your pediatrician if you fear your child has a conduct disorder.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder

Oppositional defiant disorder is believed to be a developmental disorder in children that causes extreme and severe disobedience, negativity, anger, argumentativeness, academic problems, social problems, aggression and hostility. The Mayo Clinic states that to be diagnosed, the behaviors must be present for at least six months, are persistent and disruptive in everyday life. Treatment of this disorder can take the form of group therapy, individual and family therapy, working on problem solving skills, social training and training for caregivers to learn how to handle the child with oppositional defiant disorder.

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