I completely agree with the poster who said anxiety. For some kids, anxiety comes out as defiance and opposition. Mine is one of those. And while I agree that kids need discipline, you cannot punish away a chemical imbalance or mental condition like anxiety and ADHD. It does not work.
Ross Greene, author of “The Explosive Child”, believes that “if he could do better, he would do better.” This is a theme that recurs in all the ADHD literature; Dr. Ned Hallowell says something similar, as does Dr. Russ Barklay. Kids WANT to be successful. They want to be good. Sometimes they don’t know how. Instead of punishing them for what they don’t know and can’t do, it is usually more constructive to try to teach them skills to help them learn how to be successful. It can also help to flip our viewpoint.
Example: My daughter will argue anything. There is a drawer in the bathroom she sometimes leans her weight on, and she broke the drawer in our old house so I am concerned she will break this one. If I remind her not to put her weight on it, she will either stop or argue that she isn’t (in this case I know her anxiety is acting up). If I argue back with her, she will keep arguing that she isn’t doing it, because in her mind she can’t handle knowing she is screwing up again. Even if I tell her she isn’t in trouble and I just want to remind her, she can’t always handle it. Lately we have flipped the script. I tell her that she doesn’t think she is doing it, but she knows I think she is because I told her to stop. I suggested (not in the moment; later) that she ask questions when that happens. “I’m not…am I?” Instant defuser. She is no longer arguing but asking. She is no longer on the defensive and I am no longer annoyed that she is arguing. If she forgets to ask then I start asking questions: “I wonder what will happen if your body leans too much on that drawer? What do you think?” Now she is in charge of the answer, and I worded it in a way where I didn’t highlight her mistake and gave her a chance to correct it without even ever being “in trouble.” It’s a win win.