Well, maybe. I've been noticing lately that controlling, authoritarian teachers (and, doubtless, parents) are very quick to attribute these motives to kids, in almost any situation. One such teacher thought my daughter was being defiant when she had simply forgotten a trivial piece of her homework.
There's a narcissism at work here; like a certain type of vain, clueless man who thinks a woman is flirting with him even as she's walking away.
Jessica Lahey says:
I think students test their teachers because they know they are safe with the teachers who care about them. They push us away because they know we will still be here when they return to their senses.Or perhaps these adolescent students, in the tricky phase between child and adult, are trying to establish a more equal relationship with an adult they care about. They won't manage it if the adult in question can only think in terms of "boundaries" and "authority".
Maybe that child who behaves in a way we don't like is "testing boundaries". On the other hand, maybe she's trying to tell us we've restricted her freedom too much. Maybe she's right.