When Your Young Client is Defiant

By Adina Soclof, MS, CCC-SLP

“This is so stupid!”
“You can’t make me!”
“Leave me alone!”
“Why do you always bother me?”

When Your Young Client is DefiantThis is the sound of defiant behavior. Parents, caregivers and clinicians have heard it – and worse. Parents react by getting angry, annoyed and frustrated. Nobody wants to be spoken to in that way. Power struggles ensue, parents and children butt heads, and the situation quickly spirals out of control.

Parents are often at a loss when it comes to handling defiance and power struggles. Some lecture their child on disrespectful behavior. Others ignore it, hoping it will go away. All parents find it a frustrating and annoying part of the parenting experience. It can be equally frustrating for clinicians. We have only limited time with our young clients and we need to manage challenging and defiant behavior effectively.

Children with language delays may have learned to express their dissatisfaction by whining or throwing temper tantrums. Sometimes they engage in negative behavior or “misbehave” because they do not have the communication skills necessary to make their needs known. Most children, and certainly children with communication disorders, have trouble expressing their anxieties and fears. They may crumble under the demands being placed on them at school, home and in therapy. They may use acting out behaviors (e.g. cursing, slamming books down, and yelling at an adult or disrupting therapy) as a way to express their feelings.

Such behavior disturbances frequently have a negative impact on the child’s social development, family relationships, and academic outcomes. Disruptive behavior disorders have been associated with “adverse outcomes including impaired peer and family relationships, reduced participation in developmentally appropriate activities inside and outside of school, substance misuse, criminality, impact on parental mental health, and costs to family and society.”

Effective strategies enable us to manage our caseloads, while being a support source for our clients’ other helping professionals, teachers, educators, and parents/caregivers. Opportunities abound for school-based professionals like speech-language pathologists (SLPs), counselors, social workers, and school psychologists to help teachers, parents and caregivers address challenging behavior. Once they are able to understand the link between language disorders and “misbehavior,” they are able to manage difficult behavior much more effectively.

Research shows that caregivers/parents of children with difficult temperaments or communication disorders may experience significant stress. School-based professionals are in a position to teach families how to communicate better with their children. Parents, therefore, are needed and encouraged to participate in therapy.

When Your Young Client is DefiantWhen Your Young Client is Defiant is a new 3-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that will demonstrate specific techniques that clinicians can use to manage their clients’ challenging and defiant behavior. The skills that are needed will be discussed in detail so that clinicians can work with caregivers to develop the necessary tools and have them available when misbehavior occurs.

The techniques that will be discussed are appropriate for all learning environments – home, classroom, playground, gym and the therapy room. They can be used in group or individual therapy sessions, in private practice and/or school-based settings. The techniques can be modified for each child’s developmental level, from toddler to teen.

Author’s note: It should be noted at the outset that the dynamics and techniques described in this course may not be adequate or even appropriate for children with more serious behavior conditions such as oppositional defiant disorder or conduct disorders. They will require more intense and specialized mental health interventions.

Click here to learn more.

This course is offered by Professional Development Resources, a non-profit provider of online continuing education resources for healthcare professionals. Professional Development Resources is approved to offer continuing education by the American Psychological Association (APA); the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC ACEP #5590); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB Provider #1046, ACE Program); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA Provider #3159); the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA Provider #AAUM); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR Provider #PR001); theFlorida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy (#BAP346), Psychology & School Psychology (#50-1635), Dietetics & Nutrition (#50-1635), Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice (#34); the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board (#RCST100501); the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs (#193); and the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists (#114) and State Board of Social Worker Examiners (#5678).

About the Author:

Adina Soclof, MS, CCC-SLP, a certified Speech-Language Pathologist, received her master’s degree from Hunter College in New York in Communication Sciences. She is the Director of Parent Outreach for A+ Learning and Development Centers facilitating “How to Talk so Kids will Listen and Listen so Kids will Talk” workshops as well as workshops based on “Siblings Without Rivalry.” Adina is the founder of ParentingSimply.com, a division of A+ Learning and Development Centers. You can reach her and check out her website at www.parentingsimply.com.