How To Cope With Your Child's ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder)

Spare me the diagnosis

This is for the parents who live with this disability, day in, and day out. If they are lucky, maybe they catch a break on the weekend, (depending on whether you are a single parent) if not, then unless a good friend, family member or paid respite worker steps in and shoulders some of the responsibility, there is no break.

I find it interesting that people who do not live with this disorder, can read a book, spout some text and presto, they are experts. (Not including the psychiatrists and professionals who have studied and worked with these individuals.) Yet the ones who live in the trenches are looked upon as poor parents, uninformed, misinformed, and marginalized, simply because we are seeking information on how to deal with the constant upheaval this disorder causes.

I can tell you from personal experience, that coping with ODD is not as simple as reading about it.

I'm not going to listen to you
I'm not going to listen to you
No I won't!
No I won't!

On its own, or a package deal

Oppositional Defiant Disorder can manifest on its own, but generally ODD is diagnosed with attendant disabilities. Most often, it goes hand in hand with ADD, ADHD, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Aspergers to name a few. When discussing these disorders, keep in mind there are many levels of severity, from mild, to full-blown, over-the-top-I-hate-the-world symptoms.

Any parent who has a child diagnosed with these disabilities understands how difficult it is to obtain any kind of assistance regarding management and discipline. One of the most important steps a parent can take, is to be informed. Learn everything you can about the disability.

Take a Parenting Course - this can help you manage your child's behaviour. Seek counseling - individual psychotherapy sessions help to develop effective anger management for your child, and family psychotherapy will help all the members of your family improve communication. Every member of the family needs to be a part of the solution, otherwise it will feel like you are paddling a canoe against the current with no one to help you steer clear of the rapids.

Programs such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, can help you and your child with problem solving, and Social Skills Training increases your child's ability to associate with his or her peers.

I hate this!
I hate this!

Find a Support Group

Above all, a parent with an ODD child needs support. It can feel like you are alone in the world - no one understands what you or your child are going through. Friends and neighbours have no comprehension as to the amount of stress you live with on a daily basis, and you need support and understanding from others who are dealing with the same issues as you. (A great place for information, resources and support is the online community "One Small Step for Parents".)

Reducing the stress levels in your home is a consistent, on-going process, and one that is necessary if you are to maintain the level of care needed to help your child overcome the disability and strengthen the social skills necessary to be a part of today's society.

Some of the ways you can help your child, and yourself to build these skills are:

  • Look for positives - reinforce good behaviour whenever your child shows co-operation or compliance. Find ways to praise the child for being good, instead of only disciplining the child for bad behaviour.
  • Give yourself a personal 'time-out' if you are about to overreact or escalate a conflict. There are no winners in this situation, and you need to maintain a sense of calm in order to deal effectively with the situation. This is an excellent way to provide a good role model for your child, and gives a positive solution for negative behaviour.
  • Pick your battles! An ODD child has difficulty with any type of authority, and avoiding power struggles. If you give the child a 'time-out' for misbehaving, don't add more time for arguing or additional rude behaviour. You don't want to be reinforcing bad behaviour by continuously disciplining.
  • Learn your child's signs - don't force the issue when your child is tired, hungry, or sick. This only adds to your frustration levels, and is a no-win situation. This is the time for compromise.
  • Be consistent - set up age appropriate and reasonable boundaries with consequences that can be reinforced consistently. The last thing you need is for the child to play the 'I'll-go-ask-dad (or mom) game'. Both parents need to be on the same page.
  • Take some time for yourself - you need a break to recharge your batteries. Managing a child with ODD takes a lot of time and energy, as any parent of these bright, enigmatic children already know, so do yourself a favor - take up a hobby - paint, scrapbook, walk, write, learn to play an instrument - something that takes you away from the daily stress and revitalizes you. Trust me, it works!
  • Respite care - If you don't have a friend or family member who can provide you with a break from managing your child, call your local Mental Health Association and see if they or someone else can provide you with respite care.


No matter what - be consistent!

Every child will exhibit oppositional behaviour at times. This is especially true for children around the ages of 2 and 3, early adolescence, and again in the teen years, and is to be expected as a normal developmental stage.

This is one of the main reasons you need to pick your battles. It is hard to distinguish between normal development and ongoing defiance. When faced with continual opposition, parents can sometimes lose sight that some opposition is normal.

Many ODD children respond to positive parenting and good role models, and you have to remain consistent in your approach and discipline. Whereas all children need structure and guidance it is especially true for children with this disability. Leniency without consequences only reinforces negative behaviour, and a refusal to comply.

I know these guidelines appear simple on the surface, but truth be known, when living with ODD, ADD, ADHD, Anxiety Disorder, Aspergers, or a combination of disabilities, they are a lot of work when faced with what appears an insurmountable task. However, the benefits you reap from applying these principals far outweigh the additional workload.

Speaking from personal experience, both myself and my son have benefited from their implementation. I still pick my battles, and there is a fair amount of compromise, but overall being consistent with discipline and reinforcing positive behaviour has lessened the degree and frequency of his outbursts.

Don't give up - there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

More by this Author


Comments 64 comments

RedElf profile image

RedElf 7 years ago from Canada

Excellent article, Enelle. Well researched and well-written. It's easy to see you have been in the trenches for a time. Keep up the great work!


Enelle Lamb profile image

Enelle Lamb 7 years ago from Canada's 'California' Author

Thanks, I'm doing my best (although sometimes I don't think so lol)


Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom 7 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

It's gotta be tough to deal with that day in and day out. I have 2 friends with Autistic kids. My heart goes out to you and to everyone with kids with behavioral disorders.

I consider myself lucky that my son only became ODD as a teenager. He is slowly outgrowing it.


Enelle Lamb profile image

Enelle Lamb 7 years ago from Canada's 'California' Author

MM - I hate to say this, but if he does he will be one of the very very few to have done so...once you have it, you have it for life - you just learn to overcome it - ADHD, if mild, can sometimes go away - actually it doesn't but the child learns to (again) overcome it so the disability isn't a factor...however, when you have more extreme cases of ADHD/ODD and others, to the point that you actually receive a diagnosis, you don't grow out of the disorders...

Generally speaking, something has to 'trigger' the ODD for it to surface, especially so late - however, if the child already has it, in a milder form, and something triggers it to come out as full blown ODD, then there is no way it will ever go away...sad but true :(

I feel for you...I know what it's like...

 


Queen of the Lint profile image

Queen of the Lint 7 years ago from The Laundry Room

I found out about this disorder first hand as a preschool teacher. You wouldn't believe the flack I got when I tried to point out that the child's behavior went beyond the ordinary temper tantrums. At first, even the parents denied that his behavior was unusual and extreme. Fellow teachers thought I didn't know how to handle children and I was exaggerating. With my background in both psychology and years in early childhood, it's not like I didn't know the difference. Although this annoyed me no end, my reputation wasn't the point. I wanted to get help for the child - and the class!

After at least half a year of terrorizing the other students (because who knew when or why he'd suddenly become enraged, or who he'd throw something at - and since the enlightened State of Texas says it's okay for one person to be in a room alone for several hours with 16 3 and 4 year olds so there I was restraining one child with 15 others scared, confused and still needing attention!), the administration got tired of me calling them on my cell to come help with the class while I took him out of the classroom and finally called in a psychiatrist who diagnosed him with ODD (like I'd said all along - but I couldn't implement anything without support). Once we got everyone on the same page, the last month of school was much better. Even the parents finally admitted that something had been wrong and with their sessions with the psychiatrist they were making progress. Even if it never went away completely, at least they had strategies and support.

I'm glad you're bringing this to the attention of others. And all of your strategies are spot on advice for parents.

Still, since this child spent 12 waking hours per day in a preschool/daycare setting, and then went on to have a full school day and after school care, child care workers and teachers need to know the signs and how to handle these children as well!


Enelle Lamb profile image

Enelle Lamb 7 years ago from Canada's 'California' Author

I applaud your efforts to get help for the child and your class. My son's kindergarden teacher brought it to my attention (as well as the two suspensions he received) I wasn't happy to get the information, but I began the process of working with my boy etc.

I have been fortunate to have a few of my son's teachers on the same page as me and it is encouraging. I am finding the schoolboard and the principal to be the ones who are causing the roadblocks.

It is still a daily struggle, but we are managing...thanks for your support - the strategies have worked (in varying degrees) for me, and are so important, they had to be passed on.


Queen of the Lint profile image

Queen of the Lint 7 years ago from The Laundry Room

Tahnks for your reply. It's encouraging to see more on the same page. But the school board - a whole 'nother problem in itself. Your best bet might be to contact them individually. I don't know your principal - some are really good but uninformed.

Hang in there. Vent where you can. Email me if you need to - I deleted the paragraph on my "strong willed child" - the middle one, the one that keeps me humble, (laughed and laughed at a lot of books' advice) but man - these "dificult" ones are worth it in the long run. You both will get through it stronger. It's the short term that tries the soul - and the patience. Once I got lectured on how I so often prayed "Lord, I need patience and I need it right now". I laughed and lauged at them. They had no idea. So hang in there.


Enelle Lamb profile image

Enelle Lamb 7 years ago from Canada's 'California' Author

Queen - Thank you so much for the support - it can be very trying at times lol...I find most of the books parrot the same things, mind you that can also be helpful, but when you are looking for something you haven't tried before, it can be very frustrating.

I can only hope to last for the longhaul LOL - he is 12 now, and still alive - (he's cute LOL...)


eswar profile image

eswar 7 years ago from India

It's a wonderful article very neatly written but on this subject i still believe on the parents or the elders portion of the part is more important than that of a child's for all that matter every child needs to be of this kind, and will be, because putting reason into every action needs some understanding which i believe that we gain only when we are able to understand things  isn't it.

nice work.


Suiiki profile image

Suiiki 7 years ago from City of the Newly Wed and Nearly Dead

Enelle: I want to say that you are lucky to have gotten a diagnosis for your child so young! Now you can get the help you both need. I wish more people would be aware and willing to take action. I was 16 when I was diagnosed with a rare form of bipolar disorder and 17 when diagnosed with an even rarer form of ADHD. This is after nearly getting held back several times in school, and even getting expelled from middle school at age 12. No one believed me when I broke down and cried, and said I needed help for the behaviour because I didn't know how to control myself, and they laughed at my mother when she tried to get for me, and said she was just encouraging my "Sick little games."

Now I am 20 years old and, for the first time in my life, actually on track with the dream I've had since I was 3, which is to go into the medical profession and make a difference. This is why I'm so interested in pediatrics and psychology - I don't want another child to have to go through what I did.

I applaud your efforts to educate yourself and others. THANK YOU!


Enelle Lamb profile image

Enelle Lamb 7 years ago from Canada's 'California' Author

eswar - Thank you - I agree that it is the parents who have to take control and find the programs, help, and support their child needs to cope with this disability. You are right, children need to be taught reason and understanding.

Suiiki - Thank you so much for your kind words and support. My dear, I understand how horrible it must have been for you as a youngster - I see it time and time again with my son. I applaud your focus and determination to make a difference - we need more people like you in the medical profession. Good luck and God bless.


justone331 profile image

justone331 7 years ago

You and me both know theres one thing all those kids in those pics have in commmon.......take a wild guess......they need a good old fasion grandmas belt a** whoopin check out my hilarious hubs


Enelle Lamb profile image

Enelle Lamb 7 years ago from Canada's 'California' Author

I hear you - unfortunately, it won't happen - or you could have one like mine - impervious to capital punishment...now what?


getjobsacting profile image

getjobsacting 7 years ago from Arlington, TX

I've heard elsewhere that Zinc and Omega-3 fatty acids sometimes helps those with ADD/ADHD. I wonder if it would have any effect on those with ODD considering these disorders have a tendency to be linked. I have a child with ADD/ODD and I know from experience that it can be incredibly frustrating.

Good article!


Enelle Lamb profile image

Enelle Lamb 7 years ago from Canada's 'California' Author

getjobsacting - yes, Omega-3 has been touted as very helpful with kids with this disability - and for most there isn't a problem - however, my son is allergic to fish and nuts - so I need to find a different source for him...


Mrs. Obvious profile image

Mrs. Obvious 7 years ago from Northern California

Enelle, PLEASE read my hub I just published on ODD and real hope! My story is like yours, but I found a "cure" for my son and he is all better. Bless you friend, I know what it's like to have a child "that is impervious to Capital Punishment" as you wrote in a comment above. Also I would like to put a link from this article on my hub if you would send me one. Thanks and good luck.


Enelle Lamb profile image

Enelle Lamb 7 years ago from Canada's 'California' Author

Mrs. Obvious - Thanks so much, and I will be sure to check out your hub. If you would like to link my hub to yours, here is the url: http://hubpages.com/health/copingwithoddadhd and just in case, I will email it to you as well... ;)


RedElf profile image

RedElf 6 years ago from Canada

Enelle, isn't that your book in the Amazon capsule? The one you published? That is too awesome! Great hub, by the way.


Enelle Lamb profile image

Enelle Lamb 6 years ago from Canada's 'California' Author

Hi RedElf - YES! I was soooo thrilled when I found it listed at the top of the Amazon capsule! I'm still grinning :D


ssety profile image

ssety 6 years ago from Manila

I am faced with the challenges of dealing with an adolescent child with ADHD/ODD but who is still no accepting that he has a condition. So he refuses all kinds of therapy.

My battle is this: I am applying for migration to another country, Am I a horrible parent, who, if my immigration is finally approved, would leave my special child, in the company of his grandparents who are in their late 70s?

I would want to live and overseas to sustain myself firstly, then hopefully will be able to get my son to live with me. The past osychiatrists whom Ive spoken to did not think this to be an awful occurrence, in face this doctor was even encouraging me to work abroad!


Enelle Lamb profile image

Enelle Lamb 6 years ago from Canada's 'California' Author

I honestly can't comment on that decision my dear. You gotta do what you gotta do. If this move will ultimately help you and your son's circumstances then how could you be a bad parent?


o child with odd 6 years ago

i have a 5 year old that has had odd since he was 3 and it has been a rough road. i am a single mom and has been dealing with this myself. any suggestions


Enelle Lamb profile image

Enelle Lamb 6 years ago from Canada's 'California' Author

Best thing you can do for yourself is to find a support group, or counselor. You need to be able to vent and who better to commiserate with you than people facing the same challenges.


MPG Narratives profile image

MPG Narratives 6 years ago from Sydney, Australia

Great advise Enelle. It is so hard to find the right information about conditions such as these and it is people who live with these every day who are the experts.


Enelle Lamb profile image

Enelle Lamb 6 years ago from Canada's 'California' Author

Thanks MPG Narratives - everyday is a new learning curve!


melly 6 years ago

i have a son whom i just love dearly, he is 8 now, but wow wot a struggle i and my other 3 daughters have endured,he was diagnose at 4 with adhd n then when he was 6 ODD aswell, i,m still learning about this condition and have tried a lot of things, but one thing for sure HE was difficult from the start.He can be violent at times to anyone it dont matter n he has been doing this from around 2 yrs, Tantrums that have gne onn for 5 hrs str8, he has no stop button 85% of the day n so much more, its very draining, and some days i feel sick n sad that this is only going to get worse!No one likes to have him cos he has more front than woolies and he is only a lil fella buthe is wired!!, n i feel like my wires r almost burntout at times.. hopfully he will grow out of this one day cos otherwize when he is 18 i,m movin to the MOON! lol thanks for hearing my story of my son with ADD/ODD. hope it gives insight, and helps parents realize this is a REAL Condition that can Destroy families if not taken seriously...


Enelle Lamb profile image

Enelle Lamb 6 years ago from Canada's 'California' Author

I hear you melly! Take heart dear - it does get better.


Jules 6 years ago

My son is turning 9 in 13 days. Tonight,another break-down.Break-downs really.. First over chores,then over his sister who tried to get him to stop screaming like he was being beaten alone in his room,then over not being fed and shortly after about my steak having pepper gravy on it..

Oh and I forget when he said he would do one chore in exchange of letting him out of his room right now so he could go play xbox. When I said no he started screaming he was a prisoner and he would jump off his window and run-away. I called his bluff,only to have his screech and feet stumping alarm the neighbors who came knocking again. It all lasted 2 1/2 long hours of him yelling and taunting me,insulting me and his siblings. Trying to hurt us,to get a reaction..

I just know child services will be called soon. And I'll be blamed again cause my son will gladly tell them I daily beat him up . Or that I starve him.. Or that he's always grounded in his room,unfairly.

I had to physically control him tonight. And after he tried digging his nails in my skin,after he threat to kick me in the face or even after he tried to head-butt me and break my nose,I held him close,hugged him and told him I loved him. I said I wanted him to just agree to get in his PJS and go to sleep.

He turned around,got out of my reach,looked at me and said, ''I am different than other boys. You can't tame me like other boys,I'm stronger. I will never ever do what you say. NEVER'

All I want is for my boy.. to be normal ..


Enelle Lamb profile image

Enelle Lamb 6 years ago from Canada's 'California' Author

That is what we all want for our sons and daughters, however, without the proper diagnosis and sometimes, meds, that won't happen. Get him into counseling asap (if not already done.) The holding him close and expressing your love is unfortunately not what is needed when he is having a melt-down. I understand what you were attempting, but when he lashes out, you need to be very firm and let him know that this behaviour is unacceptable, and speaking to you like that is also not acceptable. He will push against authority, and you need to show him that you are stronger - even if you don't feel you are.


Feeling Helpless 5 years ago

Well I am in a relationship that is very unique...Monday my boyfriend and I will have been in our relationship for a year... I am 38 have raised my kids they are graduated and my boyfriend is 37 never been married never had any biological children, however he was with this woman that had 3 boys one to which was 7 mo when they got together, all of the boys are on a distructive path, he has claimed the youngest as his son and she has left him in his care for 3 years now. He is 10 and this has been a very trying year for us. With his outburst, running out of classes during the summer yelling at the top of his lungs at nothing he has pushed my nerves to the point of almost no return. He does have ADHD and uses the patch, god help us if he is not on it and we have to be around other people, but on the weekends we do not patch him and he is hyper but he does what is asked and minds us,we are going to be taking him to his next appointment to get his refill, I am going to ask the DR about this ODD. A day in the life of us is like pulling teeth, everything is repeated at least ten times, get up get in the shower get out of the shower dry off get dressed put your shoes on eat get your backpack..... so on and so on. by the time I drop him off at school I am exhausted! and I still have to work, then we get calls from school hes acting out hes yelling he wont work and all these things happen in the AM, after lunch his meds have kicked in and he is a little better, but we cannot leave him with anyone but his mother, no body wants to help us bc he is so defiant! I do love this man and we are starting our lives together, I just need some direction bc this is so opposite from my two honor roll kids. He eats like an animal and he is so disrespectful to everyone no matter who they are. I have set boundries, he doesn't like to see me get upset. I do not spnank him he is not my child, but my bf will paddle him when he is bad at school but he cries at the moment then just acts like nothing is wrong, trying to make conversation with us.. we are going to the DR on the 21 I am going to ask about this ODD and I am willing to get him to a weekly DR vistit for him to talk to someone, his mother is not active in his life, she could care less, and it's sad...I could not give up my kids and not have them with me.... very strange


Enelle Lamb profile image

Enelle Lamb 5 years ago from Canada's 'California' Author

It sounds like your son is exhibiting signs of ODD as well as the ADHD. The repeated requests for him to finish his tasks and the not wanting to do school work are definite signs of ADHD, but the defiance, acting out and emotional outbursts go along with the ODD. You might want to consider having his meds changed from the patch to a slow release pill - something that is more effective for the times he needs to focus. The ODD is generally treated with behavior modification, so the boy should be getting some kind of "outside" (not school related) counseling. Then you can apply for some in-school support for him. (My son has been in counseling for approximately 6 years and it has helped significantly. It also gives you a bit of a break for an hour or so!)

The main thing you can do for him is to be on the same page with your b/f when it comes to discipline. I can tell you from experience, that spanking will not work with these kids. They do not 'get' the consequences - especially at that age. He is at least 4 - 5 years behind his peers behaviourally which means he is 10 going on 5 or 6.

I know it is extremely frustrating, but you need to stay consistent. You also need to learn the signs of 'too much' that can trigger an outburst. Knowing what triggers the emotional melt-downs will help to keep him on an even keel and lessen your stress levels. Keep an eye on his blood sugar levels...when he starts to overload, feed him! That works two ways - one, it levels out his blood sugar and allows him to calm down, and two, it will snap him out of his melt-down quickly, again, allowing him to calm down!

Check out my blog for books and suggestions that will give you more information about the disabilities and support systems that are out there. ( http://livingwithadhdodd.blogspot.com )


Kayla 5 years ago

I can concur with the statement of not outgrowing it. It "changes," I think. I would expect that females tend to internalize it, while males will likely become more obstinate, aggressive, or impulsive.

For me? I was not diagnosed with ADD until my mid 20s. My sister was diagnosed with bipolar II disorder around that time, as well. I suffered from bipolar II late in pregnancy, which was overwhelming. I cannot imagine what it is like to experience that over a lifetime. :-( I have mood swings, but nothing like that.

Those that are diagnosed very late in the game have learned to cope with their issues usually in maladaptive ways. Even if medication treats the underlying issue, learning how to cope again in a reasonable way is an everyday struggle. For example, I learned to cope with overwhelming situations by withdrawing. Medication has helped me to see fewer situations as overwhelming, but I'm so afraid of failing that I still withdraw half the time. It is an uphill battle.

Early diagnosis and proper management are keys to making this thing work. Though, I absolutely despise labels. I would like to get this relatively under control before gradeschool begins, because I'd prefer to not tell them about his ODD/ADHD. If it causes problems, we'll have to discuss it. I just don't want for the diagnosis to alter the way he is treated, because then you're getting into the territory of mutual causality, if you know what I mean.


Enelle Lamb profile image

Enelle Lamb 5 years ago from Canada's 'California' Author

I know exactly what you mean - if you do manage to get it under control, please drop me a line and tell me what you did because I have been fighting with this since the beginning of school...he is now 13 and today he was suspended from school for 2 days for swearing at a teacher...NOT a good thing!! My son was diagnosed by the age of 7 (which is when they can see the behaviours and tell they are not caused by slow development etc. Without the diagnosis, my son would have been expelled from every school he has attended...at least with the label, they are willing to work with him.


Sun-Girl profile image

Sun-Girl 5 years ago from Nigeria

Excellent article which is well shared.


Enelle Lamb profile image

Enelle Lamb 5 years ago from Canada's 'California' Author

Thank you Sun-Girl, your comment is much appreciated :)


MD 5 years ago

My sister has ODD. I am not a parent, but your article really did help me understand her and what my parents are going through. I'm often expected to take care of my sister, but it's so hard. I dont know how to handle her. My parents won't help her. It seems like my whole family is being forced to walk on egg shells around her. I love my sister like you love your sun, but it's gotten to the point where I can't even invite friends over to my house without THEM going insane because of my little sister. Medication isn't even an option. I try to tell my parents that it will help, but they think otherwise. My little sister gets away with her behavior because she "has a disorder." yet i get in trouble when I act like a normal teenager. I know your a parent, and your in a different position than I am in... but I just don't understand my parents logic. My sister hasn't officially been diagnosed but its obvious to everyone. She has ODD/ADHD and she is 8. Never before was it as bad as it has been in the past year. I don't even want to be home sometimes. What am I supposed to do!!

And p.s. I read your other article and I think your great! If only my parents could handle my sister like you take care of your son. You are truly gifted with the amount of patience you have.


Enelle Lamb profile image

Enelle Lamb 5 years ago from Canada's 'California' Author

Such eloquent words MD, thank you so much for your kindness. I do understand what you are going through. Unfortunately, your sister will get worse before she gets better. I know that medication is a personal decision, and one that only your parents can make, however, they need to be in possession of all the facts before they make their decision.

Normally, girls don't exhibit the symptoms of the disorders as intensely as boys, however in your sister's case I'm guessing that she does, otherwise her disorders would slide under the radar (like my daughter's did.)

My suggestion to you would be to have your parents research ADHD/ODD and gather as much information as possible before making any decisions regarding medications or counseling. Sometimes, if ODD goes unchecked, it can change into CD (conduct disorder) and there is no return from that diagonsis...


Acole 5 years ago

My 10 year old son was diagnosed with ODD/ADHD. I will be honest I had never heard of ODD until he received this diagnoses about 4 years ago. It has been hard, stressing and caused many sleepless nights. Unless someone walks in your shoes through one of the episodes or melt downs as we call them at home, they just have no idea. Last evening my son had a horrible meltdown and I became scared of him. I refused to let him break and throw furniture and unfortunately I was punched and hit in the process. After this 20 minute episode he collapsed and fell asleep. It is like Jekyll and Hyde. This meltdown was the worst I have seen in a number of months. There was no bringing him out of it. I had to send my 16 year old daughter to her room because his rage was fixated on her. I just want a small break from it. Then this morning he was lovely to be around. It is hard to live like you are waiting for the other shoe to drop.


J. Massee 5 years ago

I am having such a hard time dealing with mine both my husband have full time jobs and can't always deal with it the way we want to and don't have any other help. I have gotten many calls from the school principal and now my 10 year old sun is on the verg of suspicion. I'm really at the end of my rope my husband and I don't know what to do? He has manic bipolar, ADHD, anxiety disorder, and ODD. He takes like 5 different medications I'm just so lost and don't know what on earth I'm going to do.....


Enelle Lamb profile image

Enelle Lamb 5 years ago from Canada's 'California' Author

Dear J,

I completely understand where you are coming from! You might have to find a different school - one that understands and deals with kids like your son on a daily basis - regular schools don't want to. My son was shuffled from school to school - no one wanted to deal with his challenges, and that reverberates back to the home life as well...

I didn't work full time or even part time until my son was old enough to stay home (without totally trashing the house,) by himself, but it was still hard. You might consider home schooling, and definitely some counseling for both you and your husband (just to speak to someone,) and your son, (for his behaviors.)

There are support groups out there, (I have some listed on my blog, http://livingwithadhdodd.blogspot.com that might help, or at the very least, some books on ADHD/ODD etc., trust me, they help!)

Hang in there hun, it will get better...


Julie A. Johnson profile image

Julie A. Johnson 5 years ago from Duluth, MN

excellent information, but easier said then done, for sure! Julie


Enelle Lamb profile image

Enelle Lamb 5 years ago from Canada's 'California' Author

You got that right!! Thanks for commenting :)


Tammy Thompson 4 years ago

i was told my son at the age of 6 had Bipolar hes now 9 and the new counslers say he hs\as ADHD/ODD hes been hospitalized 3 times now and it never seems to get any better we all seem to be walking on egg shells around him so he does not blow up...When he gets to that breaking point he threatens to harm himself or others.I just recently had a couple friends over and my son had one of him melt downs and i have to physicaly restrain him and my so called friends called the cops and CPS on me for child abuse they had to search my home for things i would hurt my son with they kept me and my kids out our house for 5 hrs and all the time i was calm as can be cause i know i didn't do anything wrong...Im so tired of everytime he has a melt down cops are called i am a single parent of 5 kids my 8 and 9 yr old sons have ADHD but my 9 yr old also has ODD help me understand what to do counslib=ng doesn't seem to be helping and i cant work due to his out burst and always waiting for the next shoe to fall


Enelle Lamb profile image

Enelle Lamb 4 years ago from Canada's 'California' Author

Nine is a difficult age for ODD - actually between 6 and 12 are the worst years (at least that is my experience.) Don't stop the counseling, even if it does not seem to work, you need outside counseling in most areas in order to get any kind of assistance in the schools. There are more programs that you can get for your son - anger management comes to mind...

Talk with the CPS and ask them if there are any programs you are eligible for. Get him assessed by a psychiatrist (should be available through a government service/doctor) you need to know exactly what type of diagnosis your son has otherwise any medications that are prescribed won't be effective in controlling his outbursts etc. If he is bipolar then obviously those meds should be helping - if not then get him to your doctor/pediatrician for assessment. If he is ADHD/ODD there are meds to help with the ADHD, or you can use alternative medication (natural sources) that claim to work very effectively. (Available through my blog One Small Step for Parents at http://livingwithadhdodd.blogspot.com )There are quite a few resources on there that might help as well.


grayday 4 years ago

My son is 11 and has a diagnosis of ADHD/ODD, Anxiety Disorder and Depression. He has been on meds since 2nd grade and sees a therapist and psychiatrist. I appreciate the information you have shared - very true to our experiences. A couple behaviors that we deal with constantly with our son and would appreciate your guidance on how to address are: self-centeredness/selfishness and never taking responsibility for actions. He is never satisfied EVER. He can be given a gift or get to do something he has asked for and literally minutes later he is demanding something else and saying that we "cheat" him. I understand that this is part of his disorder, but we would like some tools to use in these situations. It is frustrating for us as parents, but must also be frustrating for him to never truly be happy with anything. Thanks for taking the time to read this! So nice to find someone who truly understands what we live daily.


Enelle Lamb profile image

Enelle Lamb 4 years ago from Canada's 'California' Author

Hi grayday, so good to hear from you. I understand your frustration - my son exhibits that behavior quite frequently! However, we are doing our best to teach him otherwise. It isn't easy and requires dedication and consistency, but what we have found that what works fairly well is comparison. You need role models for the behavior that you want him to emulate, and the ones you don't want him to exhibit. Start teaching him the difference between the two sets of behaviors by showing him what these behaviors will reap over time - which would he prefer to have? (This took me from the age of 11 to the age of 14 before I started seeing a difference, but I did not have a permanent helpmate to reinforce or bolster my decisions. This makes a big difference in time frame.) Do not reward bad behavior - use the "gifts/perks" like cell phones, video games/systems etc. to make your point, and have him earn them back. This will eventually instill a sense of accomplishment/ownership/respect that will help him overcome the self-centeredness/selfishness that is a magnification of the spoiled, sense of entitlement of some youngsters. (Hope I haven't offended anyone with that statement...is just my observation...)Hope this helps, and stick to your guns - you CAN make a difference!


grayday 4 years ago

Thanks for your response. Referring to the future has little impact. As I am sure you have experienced, for many of these children there needs to be an immediacy in order to get a desired response, ie: rewards need to be short term -- they don't have the attention/understanding for long term. We do not reward bad behavior. Although we need to work on our consistency in general. We are trying to implement small rewards for good behavior. Tell me more about the role models you advise. We just want to bang our heads against the wall with the incessant comments on his part about how unfair we are. We try to make comparisons in terms of how fortunate he is compared to others who have less in life and it makes no difference. Thanks again for reading and responding. We truly appreciate your feedback!


Enelle Lamb profile image

Enelle Lamb 4 years ago from Canada's 'California' Author

Hi grayday,

Believe me, I truly know what you are saying! As my son is now 14, I have comparisons of my son's behavior at younger ages, so my comments can seem to be of little use for the immediate term. However, seeing what was and what is now, as well as the steps I took to help bring about behavior changes is what leads me to say what I do.

Implementing small rewards does work, albeit sporadically, but you need to use something. I realize that using the future as motivation has little effect right now, but when I mention, "...remember when..." to my son, he acknowledges the memories, so even though you get little or poor response, what you are doing will impact him at some point.

I didn't handle the comments well I'm afraid, and at one point I left my son standing on the front porch to consider his fortunes...

As for role models - someone whose behavior you feel he should/could be emulating, and someone (I used to use an ex friend/associate of my son, it varied,) whose behavior is more on the unsavory side. I would (whenever possible) use both behaviors to show what could be, and what usually was! I also noticed that it seemed to fall on deaf ears, but it did filter through...

As for short term help, it was hit and miss most times, but I found several resources and pointers in Russell Barkley's book "Taking Charge of ADHD, the Complete Authoritative Guide for Parents."

You can try reward charts - 'x' amount of stars equals 'x' amount of video game time, or extra tv time, movie rental, game rental, ice skating...whatever you choose. You get the stars by completing chores, good behavior, small things...this had little impact with my son, but while it worked I used it. You can contact me through the link under my profile picture for more ideas or concerns if you like :) (It goes to my email)


Chana Bolyki 4 years ago

Jules- when I was reading your comment I had tears in my eyes. Your son sounds so similar to mine (he will turn 9 in a month) and I was feeling so much sympathy for what you were describing, Ive been there so many times, and at the same time I was thinking "oh, I'm NOT crazy. It's not because I'm a horrible mother that doesn't know the first thing about discipline. Because I get that a lot. I get so much advice from so many people- oh, if my kid ever behaved like that etc etc. My son got diagnosed with adhd and odd about 6 months ago, hes going to a different school now where he is doing much better, but I still don't know how to handle his behavior at home. He has meltdowns all the time (maybe every other day) that last for an hour to two hours sometimes, where he is non stop screaming, hurting me and his siblings, or throwing heavy objects around the house. When he is not having a meltdown, he will still suddenly hurt someone if they do him the slightest wrong. Lets say his sister sais something he doesn't like, he will nonchalantly walk up to her, then push her down so she falls and is lying on the ground, then kick her as hard as he can in the ribcage. She is six, and very small and frail and skinny, while he's almost nine and very strong. He will do the same to my youngest son, who is almost 4. And also when he is not having a meltdown, just his regular behavior, anytime I ask him to do something, the first reaction is to talk back to me. I try to not get into it and just calmly repeat my request, but it seems like most of the time EVERYTHING turns into an argument. And he will also say the rudest and most hurtful things to me and a bunch of times he just gives me this look- full of anger and challenge. Kind of like your sons comment, "you can't tame me like other boys" but he sais it in a look. I am very scared. This morning I had to restrain him he was trying to hurt my daughter, he started by throwing a very heavy book at her and then was running towards her and I caught him thank G-d. I could barely restrain him, hes getting very strong. He ketp screaming "I am going to kill her" and he sounded like he meant it. What will happen when I'm not strong enough to restrain him anymore? Like when he's 16? And why is my sweet son who I love so much behaving like this? And I have 4 children, (this son is the eldest) and I'm a single mom and I don't even get much of a break on the weekends- my ex takes 2 kids every other weekend. He doesn't take all 4 of them. And my other son, who is almost 8, has very difficult behaviours too, we are on a waiting list for a psychological and educational assesment for him, his behaviours are completely different but not less challenging.


Enelle Lamb profile image

Enelle Lamb 4 years ago from Canada's 'California' Author

From everything I have experienced and everyone I have spoken with, most parents agree that the worst years for ODD are between 6 and 12. By the age of 9 these kids are smart enough to know that their outrageous statements upset and shock "normal" people. Yes they are upset, (generally over something small,) but because they cannot yet manage their feelings, they have to make enormous statements to match how they feel.

It really doesn't have anything to do with "taming" them, and everything to do with teaching them the difference between acceptable and unacceptable behavior. (Not a particularly easy job, but necessary.)

Speaking calmly and clearly may help your blood pressure, but it won't go very far with getting your son to recognize that you are the person in control.

I cannot recommend that you do what I did, but I will share this story with you...My son was becoming quite violent - threatening to blow up the school, shoot teachers, students etc. At home he was terrorizing his 18 year old sister...yes, I said 18 year old! He would throw things, punch her and kick her whenever he could - simply because by doing this, HE was in control, and for whatever reason, he HAD to be in control. (This generally happened whenever I was out of his sight.) Well, this one time, he decided to try these terrorist tactics on me. He came screaming up to me and punched me as hard as he could. I didn't stop to think. I punched him back as hard as he hit me - which wasn't a light little tap, on the arm. He was so stunned that I would do to him what he did to me, that his eyes got huge, the raging stopped and he stood looking at me with his mouth hanging open. He complained to me that I had hurt him, and I showed no remorse. I told him that he punched me first and if he punched and kicked people that he better expect them to hit back! I told him that I wasn't going to stand there and let him beat on me, his sister or anything or anyone smaller or weaker than he was and to expect me to retaliate if I ever saw him doing anything like that again. I also told him that I brought him into the world and I could take him out.

I am also a single mom, and I had to establish my role as the dominant "male" in the family. This did not mean that I beat my child - but I stood him down, and from that moment on, I was the boss. Yes, we still had yelling/screaming matches, but he never, ever raised his hand (or foot) against his sister, me, or bullied kids.

I could not let fear stop me. I had seen the results of that from his teachers - they were afraid of him, and he said and did anything he wanted, knowing full well they could do nothing to him except send him home. Had I given in to the fear that I might hurt his little psych, or do or say something that was politically incorrect, he would by now be languishing in juvenile detention - jail for kids, and that is not the path I want for my boy.

Not everyone will agree with my methods I'm sure, but regardless of how you decide to parent these very willful, strong, smart kids, you need to be just as willful, strong and smart and do it consistently.


angela p profile image

angela p 4 years ago from Richmond, Virginia

It's me again. I am so thrilled that I found you and your articles on the subject. I also have written a hub on ODD to help myself vent about it. Had been a bad week and I decided to express my situation and write it down. No one knows what it is like to live with a child that has these issues unless they too live with it. I always get advice on what I should do with him but it is hard to take when most of it comes from people who can not relate in any way. I relate 100% to what you have written. I am going to go check out your website now.. Thanks.


Enelle Lamb profile image

Enelle Lamb 4 years ago from Canada's 'California' Author

Hi angela, I'm glad you enjoying my articles :) It is hard to take advice from people who haven't walked a mile in your shoes!

Hope to see you at the blog! Thanks for stopping by and commenting :)


Jaclyn M. 4 years ago

I am 25 and have two boys. I raise them alone with no physical help and barely any help with money either. My oldest is 6 and youngest is 2. My 6yr. old started showing signs of adhd between 2 and 3. At about 5 he was officially diagnose with it. Now at age 6 he is in 1st grade and his behavior had been getting really bad the last two years (compared to before) so I always blamed my self thinking it was bad parenting and didn't know what I did wrong, till about two weeks ago his new doctor said he had ODD as well....big shock to me! I had never heard of it before. So raising my 6yr old with HDHD/ODD and my 2yr old who is pcking up almost everything his big brother does, is very very hard and stressfull. I have been online looking for advice, because trying to do homework with my 6yr. old who wont sit still and will throw a HUGE fit (scream for an hour) if he isn't happy at the same time as my 2yr. old is getting into EVERYTHING and trying to cook dinner all at once is making me... well...im sure you get it. Anyone have advice that I might not have read or heard yet?


Enelle Lamb profile image

Enelle Lamb 4 years ago from Canada's 'California' Author

If your 6 yr old is currently taking medication for the ADHD, I would suggest giving him a half dose after school to help him focus on the homework - if he isn't on medication, then make him a cup of coffee - works the same as medications, both are stimulants, and will help him to focus.

Unfortunately my next suggestion might be a bit of an inconvenience for you, but will help in the long run...make supper either in the morning or before your child gets home from school. You already are overloaded with homework a 6 yr old and a 2 yr old, don't add to it. Cut yourself some slack and reschedule a few things to relieve the stress.


Kaytexas 4 years ago

Wow!!! I'm so excited to read all of this. I feel I'm the only one out there dealing with this horrible disorder--- that is ODD. My son is 11 going on 7. He was diagnosed with ADHD, depression and ODD over the years. It started in 1st grade and after testing and seeing specialists he started taking meds for ADHD. Then meds for depression and mood disorder were prescribed over the last 2 years. It's manageable now that I stopped my career and I'm a stay at home mom so I can be there for my boys( I have a 4 yr old who has no disorders and what people would call"normal") without the juggling act. Infact, I refused to put him in a public middle school this year and found a private christian school that is very small and it has made a world of difference. I've been blessed in many ways and I can't complain, however, when you have a child with ODD it's a day to day battle. Last night was a nightmare and this morning was pure hell. He lashes out with words and body language that makes me cringe. I'm frighten about what my 4 yr old is going to pick up on and how this will effect him. I have done so much by giving up a 15 year career to devote my time--- and honestly I couldn't do both because I was getting calls from school and all the psyc sessions that I had to make a choice. Being a mother to a special needs child is difficult and I just have to remind myself the sacrifice is worth it. I love my boys so much but days like this it's hard not t feel like a failure. It makes me dread picking up the boys and what mood is he going to be in and how will he get his homework done. I know I'm rambling a bit but I want to know how I separate my two boys so the little ne doesn't start acting like his big brother-- that's the question. I just feel like so much time is given t my ODD child and the other is left to the side. It saddens me. How should I talk to a 4 yr old about his brother's outburst?


Enelle Lamb profile image

Enelle Lamb 4 years ago from Canada's 'California' Author

Let your son know that his brother has difficulty controlling his anger, outbursts, behavior, and explain that you are working to help him better control his emotions. Also explain that his behavior is not something that you want your youngest son to exhibit as it is not acceptable and he will have trouble making friends. It wouldn't hurt to explain that you both need to help his brother because you both love him and want him to be successful


shani watson 4 years ago

I've been dealing with my son's odd/adhd alone for 15yrs. I never knew until now there was any kind of online support groups for parents. I guess I was just so worried about finding him the proper help without another shrink trying to snow him, I didn't think of me. I love my son but sometimes I just want to choke the snot out of him. Any negotiation tips for a battle weary mom ready to sign a peace treaty?


Enelle Lamb profile image

Enelle Lamb 4 years ago from Canada's 'California' Author

Oh yes, I have discovered a very effective phrase that puts the power back in your hands regardless of how much your son wants/needs to negotiate. Check out my blog (One Small Step for Parents) the link is listed above and also on my profile. There is an online support group (forum) where we share our ideas, solutions and tips.

My son is also 15 so I know what you have gone through - his behavior is much improved, but there is a whole LOT of room for more!

Come join us, trust me, it's painless, informative and a great place to vent LOL!


Mrs. Obvious profile image

Mrs. Obvious 3 years ago from Northern California

Great hub Enelle! My son also has ODD amongst his other disorders and from someone who has been there, your advice is spot on! Glad to know that another parent came to the same conclusions as me, and that it has been working for you as your son ages. My son is now 11 and doing much better than he was as a youngster, but some days are still challenging to say the least. I think the key for me was really learning my son's personality and picking my battles wisely, and then teaching my husband to do the same (sometimes I'm still teaching him!). Anyway, good job and thanks for sharing!


Enelle Lamb profile image

Enelle Lamb 3 years ago from Canada's 'California' Author

Thanks Mrs. Obvious, it has certainly been quite a roller coaster some days! I have been told about a supplement that helps with the ODD - magnesium, zinc, B6 and C that is available only online - the link is posted on my blog in the forum postings.


Stan 3 years ago

I just wanted to say thank you for this wonderful hub. I am 13, and I have ODD, ADD, ADHD, OCD, and Tourette’s. My parents believe that I argue and fight because I enjoy it, when in fact, the opposite is true. After an argument, my tics get much worse, and I become exhausted. I also feel sick to my stomach knowing that I just ruined an entire day for my family. However, the way my parents deal with me is not okay. The have been threating to kick me out or send me to boarding school. They refuse look into ODD, so they know nothing about it. Also, homework is a huge issue for me. Now, my parents are telling me I am going to flunk out and become a druggie living in the gutter. That has become their go-to strategy for everything. During the summer, on days where I slept late and played Xbox with friends, they started calling me a bum and a hermit, and told me I would go nowhere in life. It breaks my heart when I read all these comments about parents who researched ODD and have do special things so their kids can be happy, while my parents just complain about how I'm not good enough and threaten to kick me out. I also have bad stomach problems, so I get sick and miss school a lot. My parents have actually begun to get mad at me for that too. Nothing has been able to make them understand, so when I first clicked on your hub, I was skeptical. However, when I finished reading, I was so excited to see that I wasn't alone, that other people had to deal with this disorder, just as I do, that I immediately wrote an e-mail to my parents the link to your hub and a letter telling them how I feel. So far, nothing has caused my parents to understand what ODD is, but because, this hub does such a good job of talking about things that we really go through, and because of all the positive comments about how other people are going through the same thing we are, I am confident this will open then eyes so to this disorder.


Enelle Lamb profile image

Enelle Lamb 3 years ago from Canada's 'California' Author

Hi Stan,

It is wonderful to hear from you! I'm saddened that your parents aren't seeing the ODD issue. Unfortunately, from a parental view, this disability is one of the hardest to overcome. There is something that might help you to curb some of your behavior issues, and was developed by a father whose son has ADHD and Tourette's. Amazingly, it helped his son and he started offering online to other parents whose children had behavioral challenges. The website is ontasknaturally.com and many other's have had positive results with these supplements. I suggest you give your parents the link - or send for them yourself if you can, as it sounds like you are looking for some solutions.


Brandie Baxter profile image

Brandie Baxter 3 years ago

I have to say when i read what you went through and are going through with your son i was relieved. My son is 5 and i have been fighting this battle alone for 5 years. it was wonderful to know that someone else has been going through the same thing. I love my son but it felt like i was so alone. i four kids two that live with me, my son is the older of the two and he is imposible alot of the time and i had almost come to terms with that but now my daughter age 4 is now mimicing his behavior so i am at my witts end. your article really helped me to see that im not the only one dealing with this. thank you so much for putting your story out there.


Enelle Lamb profile image

Enelle Lamb 3 years ago from Canada's 'California' Author

You are so welcome Brandie - keep your chin up, it will get better!

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