Some children have a condition, Pathological Demand Avoidance Syndrome (PDA), which makes them unable to cope with any sort of demand, doctors have discovered.
Although little is known about the condition at present, yet experts believe that the reported number of sufferers is just the tip of the iceberg.
"There are so many children out there with PDA who are not getting the right help," the Daily Mail quoted psychologist Phil Christie, Director of Children's Services at the Elizabeth Newson Center, where the condition was first defined, a saying.
"It is severely under-diagnosed. We know that around one in 100 children is on the autistic spectrum, but we don't know yet how many of them have PDA. It is a small but significant proportion," he said.
What might be considered plain naughtiness by most parents, children with PDA essentially have an in-built need to be in control and to avoid other people's demands and expectations, which raises their anxiety levels to an extreme extent.
Christie's colleagues noted that the striking similarity between a growing number of children deemed to have "atypical autism".
They all shared an unusual resistance to everyday demands, even when related to things they would enjoy.
The researchers found that these children were superficially sociable but were often manipulative and lacked awareness of unwritten social rules. Their moods could switch very suddenly and they often confused reality with fantasy.
Some demand avoidance is part of normal development in young children. But PDA is marked by the degree of the behavior, and whether it continues beyond toddler years.
For most children the demand avoidance phase will pass, or can be greatly improved through strategies such as rewards or sanctions, reasoning, praise for good behavior, peer pressure and routine.
However, these techniques do not work for children with PDA. Instead parents need to reduce anxiety by avoiding or disguising demands.