Parenting a Defiant Child: Won’t? Or Can’t? Ask The Expert

Original Air Date February 16, 2022 | 7:00 PM, EST

Sarah Wayland PhD

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When a child with ADHD refuses to follow through on a reasonable request, it isn’t always because they are defying your authority or being manipulative. Sometimes it’s because they are simply unable to do what you asked. In the heat of the moment, it can be hard to see a child’s behavior for what it is: a biological stress response to a situation where their needs are not being met, they feel unsafe, or they aren’t able to meet expectations. So, how do you respond? And what can you do proactively to prevent future blow-ups? In this presentation, you will learn how to respond in ways that will help your child calm down and learn how to solve their problems.


  1. Discuss the difference between bottom-up and top-down behaviors.
  2. Understand how the autonomic nervous system works as a person’s body shifts from feeling safe, connected, and calm to feeling threatened.
  3. List ways people respond to threat.
  4. List strategies you can use when your child is in different stages of regulation and dysregulation.

Sarah Wayland, PhD, is a certified RDI™ consultant and special needs care navigator in Riverdale Park, Maryland. She has served on numerous nonprofit boards, including the Parents’ Place of Maryland, The Arc of Prince George’s County, and the Special Education Citizens’ Advisory Committee for Prince George’s County. She founded her company, Guiding Exceptional Parents, to help caregivers navigate the process of supporting kids with neurological differences. Her website is

This webinar is provided by CHADD’s National Resource Center on ADHD and is supported by Cooperative Agreement Number NU38DD005376 funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).