Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) is defined by therapists as a cluster of behaviors that include many or all of the following characteristics:
- Bad temper
- Low frustration level
How can a mother or father know if a teen is simply dealing with the pains of becoming an adult or has a significant conduct problem that will require therapeutic intervention? If this pattern of behavior is becoming the typical emotional state of your adolescent, he or she might have ODD. ODD can disturb home and family life, other relationships, and school efficiency.
This is often a particularly frustrating disorder, since your teen usually believes he or she has just cause to be so indignant. The youngster may fault moms and dads, friends, educators, or other authority figures for the behavior, declaring others are unreasonable, bothersome, or just plain wrong.
Signs of ODD often appear throughout pre-adolescence, around ages 7 to 13. Initially you might observe that although your youngster has become aggressive and unmanageable in your home, they don't present these exact same behaviors to the public or outside world. This can cause moms and dads to become confused, possibly making them feel guilt, because they "must have done something" to cause the hostility. Over time, however, the youngster's behavior will also deteriorate in school, and teachers may begin to complain about your youngster's attitude in class. A typical student in this stage of ODD will be disruptive in class, disrespectful of teachers and other authority figures, aggressive toward peers, and generally act like a malcontent.
Behavior modification, along with other therapeutic interventions, is the perfect solution for an adolescent with ODD. Disregarding this severe set of signs and symptoms will allow your youngster's behavior to continue to deteriorate and hinder his or her social behavior, school performance, and ability to be responsible for his or her life as an adult.
If signs have grown to be more extreme and include physical acts of violence towards property or other folks, or if your youngster has begun to commit criminal acts like stealing, he or she might be struggling with a far more severe Conduct Disorder.
What Can Parents Do?
The main parenting-tool that actually works for ODD children is consequences. You heard right …you put down boundaries for your children and then follow up with consequences when the limit is broken.
“But consequences don't work,” you say. “My kids just don't seem to care.”
Well, perhaps your consequences are ineffective consequences. Perhaps the result of breaking a boundary is actually only a punishment. And punishments do not work. Punishments trigger resentment within the youngster and do nothing at all to alter behavior.
Ask yourself, “Am I just punishing my ODD teen?” It's easy to understand the difference. A consequence must have a learning portion to it. It must be connected to the offence that your child did wrong.
For instance, if your child loses your cell phone, don't make his nightly curfew earlier. There is no link between the cell phone and his curfew and this would be a punishment. A correct consequence would be restricted use of the cell phone in the future, or even that he work to help you pay for a replacement cell phone.
Alternatively, maybe your consequences work well, but your child still does not appear to care. Perhaps your consequence to spend an hour in his room is ineffective because he has a book to read for school and had already planned to spend time in his room. Or maybe losing his driving privileges is ineffective because he plans to be away for the weekend.
You must know that a consequence that works once may not be successful another time. Learn how to assess your child's reactions and alter consequences accordingly.
Once again, your child may not appear to care because he has learned to manage his reactions. So while his outer facade displays indifference, he does indeed worry about his consequence. Don't be misled by his uncaring attitude. If this is the case he will most likely overreact to minor consequences to cause you to feel he is properly being corrected.
Become familiar with your son/daughter and know what makes him/her tick. Having the right consequence is paramount to altering his conduct.
Consequence may be difficult. I have worked with many mothers and fathers fine-tuning my parenting techniques and figuring out what works and what does not. I've created a series of videos that show you the most common mistakes made by parents. Don't get caught in this same trap. It may mean the difference between respectful kids and kids who rule your family.
My Out-of-Control Child: Help for Parents with ODD Children and Teens