Children with Oppositional Defiant Disorder

Children often have periods where they openly defy authority. Even the best behaved children have moments where the parents want to throttle their little darlings. The adolescent years are rife with open rebellion against parental authority.

Parents who have children who are frequently argumentative, actively defiant and often throw tantrums will chalk it up to the usual pains of growing up. However if this type of behavior has become the norm instead of the exception then your child may have Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD).

Children with Oppositional Defiant Disorder have a pattern of hostile and defiant behavior towards authority figures. It is hard to distinguish between the behavior of a strong willed child and that with ODD. Since rebelling against authority is normal for some stages in child development finding out if your child has ODD becomes even more difficult.

If your child’s behavior hasn’t improved in six months then there is a good chance that he has ODD. Symptoms of ODD include short temper, excessive arguing with adults, deliberate attempts to annoy people, easily angered by other people, blaming others for his or her mistakes, excessive levels of rudeness. This type of behavior is more evident with adults the child knows.

What causes oppositional defiant disorder?

There isn’t any single specific cause of ODD. A combination of environmental and biological factors contribute to the disorder. If you think that your child may have ODD a careful evaluation is in order. Talk to your physician and examine your child.

Sadly for most parents ODD is usually accompanied by a host of other problems like Attention Deficit Disorder, mood disorders and learning disabilities. Try to seek help immediately. Overcoming ODD in your child is harder to do if you attempt it without professional help.

Treatment for oppositional defiant disorder

ODD can’t be treated with a magic pill. It requires tremendous effort on your part as a parent and the support of your child’s teachers and other caregivers. A mental health professional will give you tips on handling your child’s ODD as well as treat the other mental problems like ADD and depression.

What are the symptoms of oppositional defiant disorder?

Some of the ways of dealing with ODD may seem like common parenting skills but enforcing them in the face of open opposition from your child can be difficult. If you persevere and hold firm you can curb your child’s ODD. Along with psychotherapy, you can help your child in the following ways:

Containment. Children with ODD will try to pit parents against teacher, parent against parent, even other family members like a grandmother against the mother. Like a true Machiavellian genius, your child will exploit any weakness in the home front. Divide and conquer won’t work if you work closely with your child’s teachers. Talk with all of your child’s caregivers and fully explain ODD. Agree on a course of action.

Stick to the plan. When your child behaves badly or threatens to run away when his way isn’t followed what do you do? If you cave in unconditionally your child will draw from this and repeat the action knowing he can get away with it. Initiate a system of punishment for bad behavior. If you want your child to do his homework be firm in the punishment if he disobeys, likewise reward good behavior. Tailor the rewards and punishments to your child’s personal habits. This system must be understood by all of your child’s caregivers. Present a united front. 

Be a fountain of calm. A child with ODD will frequently try to bait you to lose your temper. The more emotion you show, the more your child will push your buttons. Start a list of things that you will endeavor to ignore. Your child will be doing far too many things that will annoy you that reacting to all of them won’t help anyone. Once you have agreed on what bad behavior to ignore controlling your temper will be easier.

Eliminate other violent influences. Television and video games are a major part of your child’s life. There is no escaping the fact that your child will spend majority of his time watching television or playing video games. Watching violent television shows and video games will exacerbate an already volatile ODD personality. Limit your child’s use of media to two or three hours a day. Monitor what he watches or plays.

Your child isn’t all bad. Recognize the good things in your child. He or she may test you constantly and make you scream all the time but take the time to appreciate his or her positive traits. Praise him if he cooperates.

The foundation of any treatment for ODD is good parenting. Having an ODD child is one of the most trying challenges to any parent. Aside from having the patience of a saint, a parent has to be constantly loving and understanding. With enough therapy your child can still grow up to be a perfectly adjusted personality.