Stages in the age of defiance

The age of defiance can sometimes feel unbearable. However, how the situations turn out will largely depend on how you as a parent react to the “defiance”. But when does it usually start? And how long does the age of defiance last?

In some children, it can start as early as when they are 1 year old. Different stages then follow when the child is 2 years old, 3 years old, 4 years old, 5 years old and 6 years old. This is usually when the most blatantly defiant behavior ceases.

Here you can read more about the various stages. We also give tips on how you can best cope with the age of defiance.

What is defiance age?

In many ways, the age of defiance can also be called the age of independence . The child is not consciously trying to be defiant, but wants to become independent. They want to do things on their own and figure things out for themselves. This can be expressed as defiant behaviour . When they first learn the word “no”, you can say it’s on. Then they understand that they have the opportunity to decide more for themselves.

Although it can be tiring in many ways, this is a very important part of the child’s development.

It is in defiance that the child learns the basic qualities he needs to one day be able to fend for himself. At the same time, it is about them themselves understanding that they have a voice that they can use to influence. They actually have the opportunity to make some decisions themselves, which they certainly want to try.

By understanding why the child is behaving defiantly, their everyday life can become much easier. Remember that it is important to distinguish between the age of defiance and behavioral difficulties in children and young people . The age of trouble is a completely normal part of the child’s development. Read on to find out how best to meet your child at the age of defiance. But first we will look at the different stages.


Stages in the age of defiance

As the child grows, they learn more and more skills, acquire new knowledge and develop important qualities. As mentioned, the age of defiance can last from the child is 1 year old until he is 6 years old. The route will then be expressed in different ways for the different age levels. But often the stages slide somewhat into each other.

Some children may have a period between the ages of 2-3 which is experienced as “the worst age of defiance”. In other children, it can feel worst when they are 5 years old. But the age of defiance can also last for many years, right up until the child is 7 years old. Regardless of when and how it is expressed in your child, you must remember that this is completely normal behaviour . Here we go through age by age, and what is common “defiance” for the individual age level.

Defiance age – 1 year
When the child is 1 year old, it has started to develop its own will . It knows, for example, what it wants and doesn’t want, which it also likes to express. Because the child has not yet learned what hurts others, they can hit , scratch or kick if they don’t get what they want. This also has a lot to do with the fact that the language has not yet been developed. They therefore find other ways of expressing themselves, which will often be physical methods.

Defiance age – 2 years
In the 2-year-old age, language skills are constantly being developed. The child learns more words, which they also realize they can use for their own benefit. The child will try to do as many things as possible on their own . They would rather not be told what to do at all times. And they are not afraid to speak up. If they don’t get what they want, it can end in howling and screaming.

Disobedience age – 3 years
When the child reaches 3 years, he will try to test the limits . This could, for example, be extending bedtime. But it can also be about what they want to eat and not eat. The child is constantly starting to think more for himself. Therefore, it will call into question many of the everyday routines you have built up.

Age of defiance – 4 years
As the child grows, he will also notice that his temper can be used to his advantage . The defiance from the age of 3 continues when they turn 4. They may struggle when brushing their teeth, when getting dressed, eating, or other things that the child might perceive as “boring”. They may react with outbursts of anger if they don’t get their way. These outbursts can be both physical and verbal.

Age of defiance – 5 years
When the child is 5 years old, he will express his own will more and more . They still want to decide more for themselves. This could, for example, be what clothes or shoes they should wear. It also now has a well-developed language. They will therefore clearly express what they like and don’t like. Whether it’s eating, wearing, watching children’s TV or something else.

Troubled age – 6 years
After the age of 6, a lot happens in the child’s life. First, they grow a lot at this age. The child may then feel that he is losing some control over his body. The same thing happens inside, as the child begins to understand more and more . On the one hand, they may feel that they are not good enough, as they themselves understand and think that they cannot do everything, or are always the best at everything. On the other hand, they also don’t like to see others come last or not get things done. At the same time, the transition from kindergarten to school is a major upheaval. The child is now big and will manage even more on his own than before. They also become more involved in leisure activities and create a network.


How to cope with the age of defiance?

How you deal with the defiant child will depend on the situation and how your child challenges you. Here we give you some general tips, which can make your everyday life easier . This is also largely about upbringing and how you can guide the child in the right direction. Here are some tips.

  • When it comes to hitting and physically aggressive behaviour, it is important to have clear boundaries. Show and tell the child what is not acceptable behaviour. So come up with alternative ways for them to express themselves. Boundaries are also important in all other stages of upbringing. It is also a good idea to explain to the child why the limits have been set, so that they understand the background.
  • Give the child choices. If, for example, you experience a conflict with dressing, it may be a good idea to present two different options that the child can choose between. They can then be allowed to dress themselves.
  • Control your own emotions. Anger breeds anger. Therefore, it is important that you have control over your own emotions and do not respond to the child by getting angry or behaving as defiantly as he does.
  • Be consistent with your upbringing. If you have already decided on something, it is important that you stick to it. If you start going back on something and suddenly give up, the child will think that this can happen in other cases as well.
  • Prepare the child for what is going to happen. This can help prevent defiant behaviour. Spend time preparing the child by explaining what is going to happen. For example, by giving a warning that it will soon be time to bathe.
  • Try to understand your child’s feelings. Recognition is important when the child expresses his feelings. Then you show the child that it is completely permissible to feel the way they do. However, it is important that their wishes and will are not always fulfilled. It is permissible to have feelings and express them, but ultimately it is you as a parent who decides and sets the boundaries.
  • Offer the child help in situations where they cannot do anything themselves. If you perform the action for them, they will not learn anything themselves. If they want help, you can perform the action together.
  • Help the child to express what he wants. It is not certain that the child himself knows what he wants. Then it might be a good idea to ask, without leading the child too much in one direction or the other. Make suggestions and try to elicit words from the child.

Get help coping with the age of independence

If you have tried the tips above, but feel stuck, there is no shame in seeking help . It is better to do that, than to feel that you are completely stuck and getting nowhere. This will create harmony in family life, so that you can once again enjoy everyday life together.

We offer family therapy from your own home . You can either talk to one of our skilled therapists through video calls or during a home visit. We arrange so that the therapy is as comfortable as possible for your schedule and life situation.