How to deal with children with ODD (oppositional defiant disorder)?

Free minds - changing lives with books

Juvenile success story

Children with ODD - Oppositional Defiant Disorder

Oppositional Defiant Disorder is defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical manual of Mental disorders - Fourth Edition, Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR) as a pattern of negativistic behavior which significantly impairs functioning in more than one area (i.e at home and at school, or school and community) and has lasted for at least 6 months. Is is important to note that all children show annoying, oppositional and defiant behavior from time to time. This is developmentally appropriate and part of how kids find their way in the world. Kids often feel the need to bump up against or push boundaries to check that they are indeed there and are strong.

Examples of behaviors exhibited by these kids on an ongoing and frequent basis are:

  • often loses temper
  • often argues with adults
  • often actively defies or refuses to comply with adults' requests or rules
  • often deliberately annoys people
  • often blames others for his or her mistakes or misbehavior
  • is often touchy or easily annoyed by others
  • is often angry and resentful
  • is often spiteful or vindictive

As a result, these kids often have problems making & maintaining friendships, have significantly more conflict at home and school and often drive their parents to distraction. What is important to realize, is that kids speak with their behavior. Abstract language abilities actually develop later than most people realize, that's why asking a kid a rhetorical question such as "Did you really think it was a good idea to be throwing the ball inside?" will probably be met with "yes" or " I don't know" or "but I wanted to". As annoying and frustrating as these responses are, they are examples of a child's developmental level, not an attempt to "be smart" or actively annoy their questioner.

Why is this important to know? Because kids diagnosed with ODD are not happy campers. Seems obvious, but we often forget. No one wants to get into trouble constantly, and these are not dumb kids (which often makes it more frustrating for parent's because you expect them to know, understand and comply because you now it's a good idea). Similarly, many if these kids are truly mystified by their own behaviors, and would really like to do better if they knew how. And here's the next bummer, just telling them doesn't cut it.

Think of it this way, remember your last diet attempt? (groan..), well, everyone pretty much knows what we need to do to lose weight, we need to eat less and/or better and exercise more, so why is dieting so hard? It's much harder to change a behavior than to verbalize what you need to do. Describing riding a bicycle is easier than learning to do it. So, what's the key - practice, of course. Children learn by modelling (yup, for better or worse), which is why you have to watch your language & conversation topics around young children or your two year old's first words are likely to be unmentionable or at least acutely embarrassing.

Studies show that certain parenting styles - know as authoritarian parenting, is frequently associated with oppositional and defiant behavior in children. That's not to blame the parent, but it does show the power of modelling in how children develop their behaviors. Authoritarian parents tend to be the "do as say, not as I do" type parents, demand obedience, issue harsh punishments and do not negotiate. These parents may initially have very compliant children, but that is due to fear, not internalizing any of this tends to lead to behavior based on fear of punishment or getting caught, not an understanding of why one should not engage in that behavior. What these studies show is that parent's actual behaviors are closely observed and mimicked by their children, and that those behaviors are the one's which have the most impact on the development of the child's own behaviors.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder is a complex, frequently multi-layered problem and is somewhat limited by the fact that it is primarily behavioral in description and gives no real understanding of why these behaviors develop. Parenting styles, as mentioned above and modelling seem to have some impact on the development of oppositional and defiant behaviors.

What is also important to recognize - and a whole separate article - is that oppositional and defiant behaviors are signs that something is wrong and as much as it may feel like a personal, parental attack, it's a signal that your child is not happy, not coping and not knowing what to do about it. These behaviors are frequently seen in children with mood disorders, anxiety disorders, developmental delays and significant family discord. It is important to have your child evaluated by a trained mental health professional to determine the nature and origin of the symptoms and to develop treatment interventions.

Recent studies have shown that anti-social, oppositional and defiant behaviors have actually be a predictor of future depression in girls, so these behaviors may not only be the result of certain disorders, but may be the early warning signs, in girls of future mood difficulties. Needless to say, this has significant implications for treatment, but that's an article in itself.....stay tuned

Was this information helpful?

  • yes
  • no
See results without voting

Oppositional Defiant Disorder is a complex, frequently multi-layered problem and is somewhat limited by the fact that it is primarily behavioral in description and gives no real understanding of why these behaviors develop. Parenting styles, as mentioned above and modelling seem to have some impact on the development of oppositional and defiant behaviors.

What is also important to recognize - and a whole separate article - is that oppositional and defiant behaviors are signs that something is wrong and as much as it may feel like a personal, parental attack, it's a signal that your child is not happy, not coping and not knowing what to do about it. These behaviors are frequently seen in children with mood disorders, anxiety disorders, developmental delays and significant family discord. It is important to have your child evaluated by a trained mental health professional to determine the nature and origin of the symptoms and to develop treatment interventions.

Recent studies have shown that anti-social, oppositional and defiant behaviors have actually be a predictor of future depression in girls, so these behaviors may not only be the result of certain disorders, but may be the early warning signs, in girls of future mood difficulties. Needless to say, this has significant implications for treatment, but that's an article in itself.....stay tuned

 

More by this Author


Comments 13 comments

kelfr30 profile image

kelfr30 7 years ago from USA

Great information, and hopefully we will be able to put it to use. Unfortunately, consistency and help from the ex, his dad, is going to be difficult, if not impossible, to maintain. Thank you for answering my request, and I look forward to reading more from you in the future.


MotherHubber profile image

MotherHubber 7 years ago from Southern California

Thank you so much for posting this article. My friend's son was just diagnosed with this, and she is in the process of trying to learn as much as she can about it. I will pass it along to her. Thank you!


Kebennett1 profile image

Kebennett1 7 years ago from San Bernardino County, California

My son who is 23 now was diagnosed with ODD as a child. Authoritarian parenting did not work. Most discipline did not work. He was also diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder), later, in his early teens he was diagnosed with Tourette's Syndrome. Now in addition he is being diagnosed as bi-polar, and with an anxiety disorder. Take your pick what caused the ODD. What I do know is that these children need a lot of patience and love. Redirection and removing him from his immediate surroundings helped the most to stop his behavior. Parents do not spank, it only makes you feel better, it is out of anger. Don't yell. Don't call your children names. Don't push them aside and favor the others. And Do Not Let Other Family Members Do This. My son still hurts today when he recalls how people treated him and how he is still treated today. He has been rejected by all of his grandparents. They are supposed to love you unconditionally. WhilHe is loving, giving, creative, and just wants to be loved and accepted. He still has that little child in him who was rejected by so many people. Please do not put your ODD child through this. Work with them, not against them. I know it is hard. I have been there! I have learned so much since then!

Thank you for this Hub!


Tom Moore 7 years ago

The title of the article does not match it's content. I don't believe once did the article give examples on how to deal with children with ODD.

It gave an example of what not to do, however, for most parents the authoritarian approach is used as a last resort.

The author mentios studys, yet I see no reference to; who did the study, how it was controled.

I discourage everyone to reject the article and search else wwhere for more accurate information.


Grateful, CT 7 years ago

I was at my wits ends when I decided to google this article. Defiancy it seems is the middle name for my 5 year old. She has been displaying this behavior for quite a while now, and your article has confirmed for me what others have been telling me. I have been facilitating her and I have to stop. I can be her friend, but I need to be her parent first. I am grateful for this article. I now have some incite on how to handle my daughter's defiancy. Thanks a million for this article


Mrs. Obvious profile image

Mrs. Obvious 7 years ago from Northern California

Did you know that Niacin will "cure" this condition??!! I have a child with PDD-NOS and ADHD and he is bipolar and earlier in life was diagnosed with ODD too! Well at 2,500mg of non flushing Niacin a day, he became calm, happy, cooperative and loving!! Its the truth. I will have to write a hub about it. Thanks for bringing it up!


dr c profile image

dr c 6 years ago from San Francisco Bay Area Author

Hi-

Thank you for your comments. It seems the hub was helpful for some, not so much for others.

I'd like to respond and comment briefly on the role of niacin in treating emotional disorders. While some people have reported positive results with vitamin therapy, to date there are few, well controlled scientific studies and those that exist are equivocal about the results. While vitamin deficiencies can cause mental/emotional symptoms, generally this is the exception rather than the rule and having a mental/emotional disorder does not necessarily indicate a vitamin deficiency. If you are interested in this type of treatment, I would suggest doing some reading at PubMed or some other reputable site where you will get well validated studies. I would also highly recommend that you consult with both a nutritional expert and a mental health professional before embarking on any such treatment.

Grateful: I am so pleased to hear that you found the hub helpful, thank you for taking the time to read and comment.

Tom Moore: Thank you for your feedback, I am sorry that you did not find the hub helpful and I agree that perhaps I should have included some more concrete tips (perhaps another hub). I do feel however, that while specific techniques can be helpful, an understanding of the underlying reasons for someone's behavior is more useful as it allows people to tailor their own interventions to the person and situation at hand. That said, I'll be working on some more intervention specific topics. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.


Emma Tyler profile image

Emma Tyler 6 years ago from USA

I have an 8 year old son who has been acting out recently. Even at a young age 3,4,5 as his mom, I knew it was not that he was 'just being a boy' as our pediatrician assured us... every year at the check-up. At the end of last year when he was in 1st grade, he started some behavior issues in school. Not listening and destroying things in classrooms. He said he just felt like doing it. He is very bright and does very exceptionally well for his age group with regards to his school work. He does get along with other kids, but I have noticed, that he is more of the leader than the follower. Other kids love to play with him.

This article was extremely helpful for me,so although it may not have had the content on how to deal with it... it was very informative and reading it in the first place, is a start to dealing with it. I have just started therapy sessions, and the Doc has had two appointments with just me so far, and thinks it may very well be ODD. My son's father (who I am still with) conveniently got out of coming to the appointment. Looks like I will be doing this on my own, and from what I can see... this will not be easy. But I am determined to make my son's life better as well as the rest of the family. We also have a 4 year old who is very active so we have to deal with that as well. Thank you for this article... Really.. It was very insightful!!


FirstStepsFitness profile image

FirstStepsFitness 6 years ago

Welcome to HubPages ! Very good article , it was well written keeping in mind it is a very complicated disorder especially when combined with any others . I wanted to add a little something here ....CHAD website does have a lot of information , support systems , parental information , information for schools as well .

Also " The strong Willed Child " I believe it is by Dobson .


troubledyouth 6 years ago

Attention Deficit Disorders are critical mental problems. Many kids and teenagers are suffering from ADD and ADHD problems. ADD children need specialized medication treatments and extended care to overcome depression, stress and negative behavior. Residential treatment centers are there to help ADD suffering adolescents. Clinics prescribe affordable treatment programs for making the recovery programs easily approachable for families. Clinics offer diagnostic and counseling programs for parents and ADD kids to make them understand the ways to overcome distressing issues. Parenting programs are very effective in dealing with ADD and ADHD problems.

http://www.troubledteens.net/Problems-in-Teens/Tee...


dr c profile image

dr c 6 years ago from San Francisco Bay Area Author

Hi Emma Tyler, FirstStepsfitness and troubled youth,

Thank you for taking the time to read the hub and for writing in.

Emma Tyler: I'm glad the hub was helpful, and I shall try to take some time to write one on how specifically to deal with these behaviors, thanks for the suggestion. You may find some of the information in the following hubs helpful in the meantime: Dealing with difficult behavior in children, Developing a behavior management system for kids, What to do when kids won't comply or How to say No to our children and why we should.

It is also important to differentiate ODD and ADD. Please make sure your Doc has some specialization in these areas as treatment can be very different. Also, if your child is struggling, you may want to consider a Student study team, 504 plan or IEP to help access some accommodations for him and ensure the school is part of his treatment. You might find some information in this hub helpful: How do you deal with problems your child has at a public school. I hope this is useful.

FirstStepsFitness: Thank you for your observation, ADD/ADHD can enormously complicate a young person - or adult's life when not diagnosed and these people frequently attribute characteristics such as poor planning, lack of motivation, poor anticipation of consequences, impulsivity and poor organization to internal characteristics and feel that they are innately impulsive, unmotivated, disorganized people with poor judgement, when these are in fact features of their disorder. It can be immensely relieving to know that this is not only not a personality trait, but that there are interventions and medications that can be of significant help. Thank you for mentioning CHADD, it is indeed an excellent resource.

troubledyouth: Thank you for your comments. While I absolutely agree that ADD/ADHD can cause enormous complications, particularly, as noted by FirstStepsFitness when there is one or more co morbid disorders. I would, however caution people on considering residential treatment for a child with ADD/ADHD alone or as a first line treatment option.

These are conditions, which although disruptive, can generally be well managed in an outpatient setting,with individual and/or family therapy, support groups and parenting skills training. In the school arena, many of these children can function in a General Education setting with some additional parent-teacher involvement and the development of some accommodations and understanding of the child's behavior. Particularly severe cases, or those with significant comorbidity may require Special Education services, including accommodations, Resource programs, Special Day classes or even Day treatment. Consultation with a mental health professional can also be very helpful, although it's important for parents to know that they can access these services at no cost through their school district. Most counties also have mental health services and can often direct you to other resources if they cannot serve you directly.

A very small number of children with any mental illness/ emotional/ behavioral disorders require inpatient and/or residential treatment. These services (at least in California), are generally accessed through the county in conjunction with the schools as residential treatment, because of the intensity of it's nature is generally very expensive (around $8-10 000/month!). Children generally remain in treatment from around 9 to 18 months or more, so not many people have those kinds of resources.

Mental health residential treatment is not like drug & alcohol treatment, it's not generally a 30-90 day model, although some residential centers specialize in crisis stabilization which is generally 30-90 days, but in those cases, the child usually requires significant follow up and may be placed in a lower level facility following crisis abatement.

Although residential treatment is a service essential for some, it is generally reserved for very intensive cases requiring a 24 hour therapeutic environment and observation, so it is highly unlikely that a diagnosis of ADD/ADHD alone would qualify. Having said that, my experience has been with non profit residential centers whose client's are referred by Probation, Social Services and Mental Health workers through schools and counties, so I cannot comment directly on how private residential centers are run. I would however, reiterate that although I believe residential treatment can be a valuable option which can change lives, it should never be considered amongst the primary interventions and should be reserved for the most severe cases requiring intensive stabilization and treatment. Thank you all for reading and writing in and for your comments.


Amber Sears 4 years ago

This was very helpful. Although I still need a lot of information on how to deal more with it because i not only have one child with I have two . My six yr old son is the worst but my seven yr old daughter struggles pretty bad as well.I would really appreciate any information on dealing with more than one child with odd . Thank You


ctarter 4 years ago

I appreciate the detailed background and the hopeful views. I have found it's important to have hope, Love, and to take daily challenges 1 at a time, keeping the big picture in mind. I breathe and try to stay patient, but this helps with tips too: http://www.kidpointz.com/oppositional-defiant-diso...

Thanks!

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working