Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) is a troublesome pattern of defiant, disobedient and hostile behavior in kids and teenagers, toward authority figures that continues for a period of at least six months. The base prevalence rate for ODD is somewhere between 1 and 16 percent, yet surveys from non-clinical samples range between 6 and10 percent. So, at minimum, 1 to 16 percent of kids and teens in school (or of school-age) has ODD. Also, the disorder most frequently appears in boys in multiple contexts, and manifests before the age of 8 years.
Behaviors included in ODD are:
• argues excessively with adults and authority figures
• blames others
• can be manipulative, spiteful and revenge-seeking
• does not take responsibility for behavior
• gets annoyed and angry easily
• intentionally annoys others
• intentionally defies and disobeys requests and questions rules
• is stubborn
• refuses to follow rules
The youngster may say hurtful or mean things when angry, with frequent temper tantrums. 50 to 65 percent of kids with ODD also have the comorbid diagnosis of ADHD.
A youngster with ODD can be a challenge to live with. You may fear that saying the slightest thing will set off a tantrum or lead to physical violence toward you or another family member. When you have a youngster with ODD, your daily life can become seriously disrupted. Leaving the youngster with a babysitter is often out of the question, so the moms and dads' social life is severely curtailed or ceases to exist altogether. It is not uncommon to dislike your ODD youngster, even though you still love him.
When asked to do something, the defiant youngster is likely to do the opposite and can be stubborn or argumentative. While this is true of all kids at times, the defiant youngster exhibits these behaviors more often than his peers. He may be resistant to change as well as being persistent and a perfectionist.
Here are 12 crucial tips for moms and dads who have ODD kids and/or teens:
1. Avoid physical punishment. Hitting a youngster who is angry often makes him angrier. If you remain calm and rational in the face of his anger, it sends the message that he can't push your buttons and incite you to match his rage.
2. Choose your battles, but fight the ones that are important. A youngster with ODD often knows you're walking on eggshells around him. He knows he controls the household with his tantrums. Standing your ground on certain issues will show him that his negative behavior will not always get him what he wants. Be determined to keep your cool, no matter how difficult it is.
3. Give praise where praise is due. When your youngster does something you have requested or excels at something, tell him you're proud of him. Reinforce the good behavior as strongly as you punish the negative.
4. Go to family therapy. A youngster who constantly pushes your buttons may be playing on your own codependency issues. Not only will therapy help you deal with these issues, it will show your youngster that you're serious about the need to improve his behavior and that you support him in doing so.
5. Identify sources of stress. An estimated 40 percent of kids with ADHD experience ODD. If undiagnosed in your youngster, ADHD can cause your youngster stress because he cannot concentrate and is often getting in trouble. You have to address the source of the stress---the ADHD symptoms---before turning to behavioral issues.
6. Model good behavior. You are your youngster's best role model---for this reason, you should make efforts to exhibit the behaviors you desire for your youngster to act out. Keep calm and make efforts to avoid disagreements, aggressive physical behavior and combativeness with your youngster. To continue to remain patient, you should always take some time for yourself each day. Taking a walk, reading a good book or meditating can help to clear your mind and re-energize you.
7. Seek outside support. Parenting a defiant youngster can be stressful for moms and dads. Because a defiant youngster can often be out of control and disobedient, he needs parents who are calm and nurturing. However, the behaviors of a defiant youngster can take a toll on his parents’ mental health and even their marriage. This stress can put moms and dads at odds with each other as they try to find effective parenting strategies. Parents may seek outside support and intervention. Counseling and therapy for both the parents and the youngster can provide guidance so that the family dynamic is more positive. The goal is to have the important people in the youngster's life feel strong and supported so that the youngster has the same set of rules, expectations and parenting strategies.
8. Set clear limits and consequences. Be consistent, and don't back down. This gives the youngster clear structure and boundaries.
9. When possible, spend unstructured time together. Defiance can be the result of stress in your youngster. Spending time doing an enjoyable activity together can reduce stress and be a positive influence in your youngster's life. Allow your youngster to select a favorite activity, and perform it together for 15 minutes each day. This helps your youngster to see you as a caring mother or father---not as a parent who is frustrated or upset with him.
10. Take time for yourself. Moms and dads of defiant kids can easily become frustrated, weary or angry at their youngster. Because your defiant youngster needs a nurturing, caring parent, these feelings can reduce your parenting effectiveness. For this reason, you should always take some time for yourself each day. Whether taking a nap, reading a favorite book or listening to music, these activities allow you to recapture a calm spirit and help you to better cope with your defiant youngster.
11. Use positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement is valuable for your youngster because it rewards him for good behavior instead of punishing him for bad. This includes teaching your youngster the best way to behave at home and at school, and rewarding him with praise when he performs well. The praise should be such that he desires to continue modeling good behaviors. Explain specifically what your youngster did well and respond enthusiastically, which will enhance your youngster's self-esteem. When he does not model good behavior, use patience and remain calm when attempting to correct the behavior. Always explain the consequences your youngster will experience if he does not behave correctly. This can include a time-out or reducing a reward for the day.
12. Watch for triggers that may set off your oppositional and angry youngster. If you know that certain things bother him, head them off before they're presented. Moms and dads and teachers can watch carefully for the signs and causes of oppositional behavior to avoid the triggers in the future.
Though all kids have defiant moments, if there is a consistent pattern of defiant behavior that appears worse than other kids and affects your youngster's social or academic abilities, he may have ODD.
Parenting Oppositional Defiant Children and Teens