Dallas CBT’s psychologists provide specialized treatment for behavioral problems in young children. No child behaves perfectly 100% of the time. However, some children develop a tendency to engage in disruptive or noncompliant behaviors most, if not all, of the time. Struggling with a child who will not follow directions, throws frequent tantrums, becomes aggressive either verbally or physically, or behaves defiantly towards their caregiver (e.g. “No! I don’t wanna!”) creates a significant amount of stress within a household. When these behavioral problems are persistent and severe, it may result in a diagnosis of Oppositional Defiant Disorder. These symptoms can significantly interfere with a child’s functioning, and may result in poor school performance, poor peer and family relationships, delinquency, or worse. Parents dealing with these types of challenging behaviors may feel overwhelmed, stressed, or even depressed, and may feel that even completing everyday tasks with their child (e.g., getting ready for school, having dinner) is a struggle.

Potential Signs of Oppositional Defiance

  • Frequent loss of temper or tantruming
  • Often angry or easily annoyed
  • Frequently arguing with parents or other authority figures
  • Refusal to follow directions / defiance
  • The feeling that the child is running the household

Treatment

Our treatment options for oppositional defiance include individual treatment with the child, supportive interventions with the parent, or interventions involving both parent and child. We believe that the parent is crucial in the therapy process and would like them to be as hands-on as possible.

Our Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) program is an empirically supported treatment for young children (i.e., ages 2 to 7) struggling with a broad range of behavioral problems, including defiance, non-compliance, aggression, and tantrums. This 14 to 20-week program will help parents use positive relationship strategies to help your child want to listen. Your therapist will focus on helping you regulate your child’s emotions and behaviors and implement effective strategies to help your child follow directions. PCIT actively involves the parent in each step of treatment; the goal is for the child’s behaviors to improve when interacting with the parent, not just with the therapist. Rather than having parents come to therapy to engage in exhaustive and abstract discussions of what’s going on with their children, PCIT heavily emphasizes direct, hands-on learning through live coaching and skills training.

We also offer CBT-based individual treatments which can be tailored to each child’s presenting problems, with the goals of helping them learn and implement skills to help manage aggressive and/or impulsive behaviors, regulate their emotions more effectively, and improve their relationships with others. Generally, an individualized program of this nature may last 15 to 20 weeks with weekly sessions.

During therapy, parents and children can expect to:
  • Better understand what prompts and reinforces child behaviors
  • Learn positive strategies to improve obedience and relationship quality
  • Reduce impulsive behaviors and improve behavioral management skills to further reduce problem behaviors