Yes, there is such a thing as a child being oppositional on purpose. Of course, sometimes he or she just wants to do what he or she just wants to do—but if you think your child is purposefully choosing or trying to do just the opposite of what YOU want, you might be right…
Often, kids have other motivation and they are not being oppositional on purpose. But, when a child feels powerless or as if he is being heard or his wishes are being taken seriously, he may act out with very strong defiance. As kids get older, instead of throwing a temper tantrum with all that frustration, they may purposefully do exactly what you have asked them NOT to do, just to show you how powerless, frustrated, and out-of-control they are really feeling.
Many parents find purposeful defiance to be one of the most aggravating things a child does. However, the more you try to assert your will when she is being so oppositional, the more likely you will end up locked in a power struggle or create lasting separation and friction between you and your child. Try to figure out what is going on. Are you pushing your will so strongly onto the child that the only way she can express her powerlessness is to do exactly what you don’t want? If you take a step back and offer the child some reasonable choices, giving her back some of that lost control, can you change the behavior without more ongoing battles?
Of course parents should be very direct and consistent about what behavior is accepted and permitted, but if a child is acting out by being willfully oppositional, there is something bigger going on. Try to look beyond the immediate moment and the immediate frustration and look for a more lasting solution. If you have been very specific about what is okay, and a child does just the opposite, then there is almost always a reason.