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We Help Children With Behavior Issues

Defiant Behavior: What's Happening in the Brain?

When a child displays defiant or impulsive behavior, it can feel baffling and challenging for parents. The first step to managing defiant behavior in your child or teen is understanding what's happening in their brain. Once you understand the science behind what's happening, you can move forward in helping them to better address what's driving that behavior.

Immaturities in Stress Resilience and Emotional Regulation

Studies show that when kids are displaying defiant behavior, their brains and bodies are having a reaction to stress, fear, and punishment that is different compared to children who don't display defiant behavior. Children show altered cortisol activity in the brain when they're stressed. They also show abnormal levels of serotonin and noradrenaline, which means that punishments may have a different effect on them. This difference in reactivity in the brain causes them to respond differently to punishment and the negative effects of behavior. This can result in being less responsive to rewards and punishments and may make them more likely to act out without fearing any repercussions.

Impulse Control Deficits

Scientists believe that children of all ages who struggle to control impulses and emotions may have underdeveloped prefrontal cortexes—or, the part of the brain that is in charge of executive functioning and managing impulsive behavior. It's actually more difficult for them to manage their emotional reactions and the behavior associated with those reactions, and managing defiant behavior may take extra work and practice. The development of our prefrontal cortex begins when we're very young and continues into our mid-twenties. For some kids and teens this area develops later, leading to a brain that is less able to contain and control emotions and behavior.

What can be done?

Extensive scientific research demonstrates that the brain is malleable, allowing for brain connectivity change and development and creating an opportunity for improvement at any age. Brain Balance has applied this research to develop a program that focuses on building brain connectivity and improving the foundation of development, rather than masking or coping with symptoms.

If you have a child or a teenager who regularly exhibits impulsive or defiant behavior, let’s talk. An assessment can help to identify the area of immaturity and create an action plan for you and your child. In fact, parents saw a 43% improvement, on average, in their child’s behavior following the completion of the Brain Balance Program.* 

Get started with a plan for your child today!

*Results based on a parent evaluation form filled out pre and post-program where the parents ranked a set of statements about their child, on a scale from 0-10 (0=not observed/does not apply and 10=frequently observed). Statement: Child is argumentative, oppositional or uncooperative at home – 43% improvement for median student (2015-2018 data for 4,284 students where parents reported this issue).