Understanding this sign when you see it in your child can be hard because there is a lot of difference between authority and power. Children learn to respect authority, people in authority, and learn to accept authority. This becomes a value. Power is different. It gets its importance from who is bigger and stronger. Power is something to fear; and people with power are to be feared.
How your child sees you, teachers, and other adults is important. Does he see you and other adults as people in authority or as people with power? Your youngster may say, "You can't make me do it." That is what he literally means. "You can't or won't use power to make me do it." He likely is right.
Say, "You're right. Even if I could make you do it, I won't. I won't treat you that way. I'll help you learn it's better for you to do what I ask than to refuse; but you can still refuse. Please do what I ask so I don't have to figure out what other choices I have. Just understand there are other choices."