I wonder what do you call a child or a youngster who disobeys against their parents orders, sometimes even the conventional and social rules and regulations, and someone who often talks back to their parents? Such children or young people often tend to fight other children / youth and most of the times behave angrily. They usually do not want to pay attention to the higher position and do not perform what they are obliged to and instead prefer to act as they wish. This attitude sometimes remains on them if they do not receive any therapy (usually talk-therapy) even up to the end of their lives.

I know three words to describe such characters:

Disobedient: which means:

Deliberately not doing what you are told to do by your parents, teacher etc.

  • He is a pleasant child, but often rowdy, disobedient and rough with others.

My register: in my view it works, but do not convey the whole message. It doesn't necessarily indicate that the child/youngster tends to act angrily or talk back to their parents etc. and just says that they "disobey".

Defiant: which means:

Refusing to obey and not willing to accept criticism or disapproval:

  • It is easier to be soothing with a highly sensitive child who is clingy and frightened than with a defiant child.

My register: the same as "disobedient" goes here.

Rebellious: which means:

If someone is rebellious, they are difficult to control and do not behave in the way that is expected:

  • Her teachers regard her as a rebellious, trouble-making girl.

My register: to me it strikes as the closest one, but the problem with this word is that according to all dictionaries, this word is more about an opposition against a government and a political organization etc. Why I think it is the best choice? Because for me, this word has a connotation of being "unruly + disobedient + aggressive".

Insubordinate: which means:

(Of a person) not willing to obey orders from people in authority, or (of actions and speech, etc.) showing that you are not willing to obey orders:

  • An insubordinate child.

My register: I think it can work to, but the same problem with "rebellious" is applicable here too.

That was my offers and what I understand from them.

I wonder what would you use in this sense if you would have a better option encapsulating all these concepts?A man and a boy glaring at each otherA boy throwing a temper tantrum as a man watches

1 Answer 1


Of the choices you give, 'Rebellious' is the best fit for the description you give, at least in the UK. None of the others are bad choices, but all have slightly different nuances.

'Insubordinate' stands out though, as being an unusual choice to describe a young child, and is far more frequently used about an employee, or specifically in a (para-)military context.

  • 1
    Exact same root, and in this case you should be able to use the two interchangeably.
    – MikeB
    Jun 25, 2019 at 10:35

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