Oppositional Behavior

Q: “My Child Resists Everything! Will He Ever Open Up to New Experiences?”

Significant risk aversion is often about lack of confidence. To build up your child’s confidence, take a page from the Nurtured Heart Approach, a behavior-management strategy that emphasizes a child’s strengths and positive contributions.

Teenager feeling shy pushing away with hand gesture
Teenager feeling shy pushing away with hand gesture

Q: “My 13-year-old son with ADHD is risk averse and resists anything new. Getting him to participate in a new sport or activity, for example, triggers opposition and defiance. Nothing seems to work, and I can’t help but feel frustrated and hopeless. How can I get my son to open up to new experiences?”


It’s not easy to parent an oppositional child. Your frustration and anger are understandable and completely normal responses. But some insight on what’s underlying your child’s behaviors may help you take next steps.

Significant risk aversion is often about lack of confidence. I don’t know your child’s history, but we do know that children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are more likely than children without ADHD to receive negative feedback – from parents, teachers, peers, and others – which damages self-esteem over time.1

[Get This Free Download: Rules for Parents of Defiant Kids with ADHD]

To build up your child’s confidence, take a page from the Nurtured Heart Approach, a behavior-management strategy that emphasizes a child’s strengths and reinforces positive behaviors, such as bringing a dish to the sink after dinner, pushing in a chair, putting on a seatbelt, and other seemingly “simple” steps that don’t receive much attention and praise day-to-day.

The powerful program isn’t just for families; it has been successfully implemented across schools and communities. One public school in Tucson, Arizona, for example, saw a massive reduction in suspensions and referrals for ADHD assessments after implementing the approach.2

Recognizing what your son does right as frequently as possible will positively affect his behavior and self-esteem, which might make him more inclined to step out of his comfort zone and try new things.

If your child doesn’t show signs of progress, consider going to a family therapist who is trained in the Nurtured Heart Approach and who can help your child see his potential.

Defiant Children & Nurtured Heart Approach: Next Steps

The content for this article was derived, in part, from the ADDitude ADHD Experts webinar titled, “Lifestyle Changes with the Biggest Impact on Kids with ADHD” [Video Replay & Podcast #414],” with Sanford C. Newmark, M.D., which was broadcast on August 4, 2022.


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View Article Sources

1Mazzone, L., Postorino, V., Reale, L., Guarnera, M., Mannino, V., Armando, M., Fatta, L., De Peppo, L., & Vicari, S. (2013). Self-esteem evaluation in children and adolescents suffering from ADHD. Clinical Practice and Epidemiology in Mental Health: CP & EMH, 9, 96–102. https://doi.org/10.2174/1745017901309010096

2Nurtured Heart. NHA in Action. (n.d.) Retrieved from 2ehttps://nurturedheartinstitute.com/nha-in-action/

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