Oppositional Defiant Disorder – Managing Your Child’s Behavior

Children having Oppositional Defiant Disorder or ODD, tend to lose control over their temper. As a result, you shall see these kids burst out of rage extremely often. They get annoyed easily. They are hostile while behaving with adults, and even with many other children. They may want to push other kids to their limits and in the worst case can even bully other children.

Children with ODD will always find an excuse to underachievement and their inability to keep up with things. They would tend to mix well with other kids with such syndrome. If this happens to your kid in adolescence then s/he would be even sulkier in nature. If ODD continues, then the child shall eventually grow up in an adult who would not be liked practically by anyone.
For many kids, being oppositional and defiant becomes the way to resist authority and control. If you try to exercise your authority over the child, then that does not go well with most children. Children with ODD, however, would not be at a level of liking or disliking your attitude towards them. For such children, your attempts to control the child using your authority would raise the panic flag inside their minds. That aggravates their ODD symptoms and you are left with no option but to face it. As a parent, the obvious question coming to your mind is, “how do I face and overcome such behavior?”

Most parents are unaware of how to deal with oppositional defiance disorder. They tend to try their own intuitive means and hope for success. The means that the ignorant parent may try would cover a wide range of methods. These methods include negotiation, threatening, shouting at the child, giving in and bargaining to name the common ones. In reality, the parent would hurt their own cause more than help and hand over even more power to the child through these actions.

What you need to overcome such behavior is structure. And you need to understand the kind of structure well enough before you start implementing it. If you simply stop at giving your child time for relaxation and independence then that is not going to work. Your child is suffering from ODD, and s/he will use this time to plot revenge against the world. You would want to take a deep breath here, stop and change your parenting style to best suit to deal with children with ODD.

Understand that children become oppositional most often when they are faced with problems and have no idea how to solve them. They try to avoid the problem by forming a mental resistance. Most often, this resistance is the root of the ODD. The child needs to break this resistance and solve the problem. The problem can be anything like not wanting to get up of the bed in the morning (fear of facing daily life) or not wanting to do homework. You need to build an aggressive component to your training planned for removal of ODD in the child. Make sure that you point the child to the proper angle of the problem.

For example, you may want to point out to the child that avoiding homework won’t help since the teacher will only give further homework and eventually no homework will get solved on its own – the child will only keep lagging further which will only increase the problem rather than avoid it.

During the process, make sure that you keep avoiding any power struggle with your child that may show up. You don’t need to solve every problem at one shot – rather, pick and choose the problems that you want to start with carefully and make sure that you win all the battles in such a way that the child eventually feels happy in making you win and getting his/her better goal achieved rather than achieving further defiance. If you argue then that will make him/her argue back. Rather, set limits just like a professional life (but in secret make sure you have your heart in place) and expect your child to comply.

Please note that Oppositional Defiant Disorder or ODD is an issue of children getting to face real-life problems with confidence and solving them. It has nothing to do with self-esteem. You would hurt your kid rather than help if you encourage the kid to solve easy problems by putting enough rewards on them. Occasional pat on the back is okay, but make sure that the kids starts to attack the harder problems. Once they attack the harder problems and solve, they would start having the self-confidence and self-esteem. That would help them earn their praise, and do make sure that you praise and reward the kid once they start solving the harder problems. You should play the role of a coach and guide to the child. Do not play the role of a friend and or that of a cheerleader – you are neither a friend of your child and nor his/her cheerleader.

In general, form a plan to manage your child’s behavior and follow the plan. Lay out rules and make sure that your child follows them. If they lose control, give them a bit of time to regain. For example, if they lose temper a little while before their favorite TV show, tell them that they have time to regain control till the start of the show, and if they don’t regain control by that time then they are not going to watch the TV show. Have methodical plans for any step of life that you know your child may cause a disturbance in. And follow the plan meticulously till your child learns that ODD is his/her problem and not his/her solution.