Developmentally Appropriate vs. Persistent Defiant and Aggressive Behavior

  • Manfred CierpkaEmail author
  • Astrid Cierpka


Defiance emerges out of states of stress that are intolerable to the child, generally as a result of frustration. How well a child is able to rely not only on parental co-regulation but also on its own growing powers of self-regulation in moments of emotional crisis is crucial to its further psychological development. If these efforts at regulation succeed “well enough,” one refers to “normal” defiance and “normal” temper tantrums in this developmental phase of the second and third years of life. However, if defiance becomes excessive and, more particularly, persists, parent–child interactions and relationships become compromised. Older children exhibiting aggressive behavior and failing to comply with rules (which is usually perceived by the parents as disobedience) are described from a diagnostic perspective as children with oppositional behavior.


Defiance in toddlerhood Temper tantrums Trigger situations Affect-regulation Coercive aggressive cycle 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Psychosocial PreventionUniversity Hospital HeidelbergHeidelbergGermany
  2. 2.Private PracticeHeidelbergGermany

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