Parenting A Child Who Has Oppositional Defiant Disorder

Are you #stressed because your child is consistently disobedient, uncooperative, hot-tempered, and hostile? Do you find yourself  feeling increased #anxiety because your child seem to get pleasure out of irritating others, seeking revenge, and/or acting aggressively, and you know he or she might be #bullying other children and causing a #trauma disorder in them. Is your child’s misbehavior causing you to have #stress reaction, or cause you to start those old #compulsions you worked so hard to break? Are you getting notices from his/her teacher that in school, and with peers he has acted in a #bullying way, and the school needs you to step in and #fix the relationship.

You may be suffering from a common parenting problem Many experts believe that familial factors are especially influential in contributing to ODD.  If you or other family members may be acting in a way that is encouraging your child’s misbehavior, and the suggestions I give are not effective, then family therapy with a mental health professional may be necessary to shift the patterns of interaction in your family. However, after I elaborate on this condition, I will discuss strategies that you can apply immediately to work on this problem as a family.

This disorder can affect many areas of a child’s life.  While circumstances may differ from person to person, here are some examples of issues that may arise in the present or future if the disorder is left untreated:

Academic problems, perhaps due to #cell phone addiction, or other distractions.

Substance abuse or #compulsions

Social isolation/rejection from peers perhaps leading to #social anxiety

Other psychological problems (such as conduct disorder, #depression, #anxiety, etc.)

The #stress of low self-esteem

Trouble at home (fights with siblings, strained relationship with parents, etc.)

If you recognize the problems I mentioned as possibly describing your child record your responses to the following statements.  Put a “Y” next to statements that fit your child and a “N” next to statements that do not fit your child. Then make a tally mark in the appropriate category depending on whether these statements may describe your child in general!.

The more “true” statements you’ve identified, the more likely it is that your child has ODD. Please note, however, that this is not a scientific assessment.  It’s a survey (for you alone to give you a general idea) and it’s for informational purposes only. For a proper diagnosis, you’ll need to consult a mental health specialist.

Here’s the screening questionnaire.

1 - My child refuses to obey rules, or #help out at home and/or in school.

2 - My child goes out of his/her way to upset or #bully others.

3 - My child causes increased #stress by blaming others for his/her mistakes.

4 -        My child’s misbehaviors seem worse than normal ‘acting out’ of other children.

5 - My child enjoys seeking revenge like #cyberbullying

6 - My child needs to #fix relationships because of having very few or no friends, but he/she refuses to take any actions that might #fix the relationship.

7 - My child causes #anxiety in other children he #bully’s by regularly saying nasty, spiteful, mean-spirited things.

8 -        My child regularly starts fights and/or argues unnecessarily causing the other child to develop a #trauma disorder.

9 - My child is very moody, irritable, and/or easily angered, which may be a sign of #depression, #anxiety, or #stress.

10- My child throws temper tantrums that aren’t age-appropriate, which may be a symptom of child onset #traumatic disorder.

11- My child refuses #help to listen to me and do what I say.

12 -       My child strikes another family member when they feel #anxiety.

13 -       My child refuses to do their homework, and may develop a #panic disorder, or other signs of having psychological problems.

14 -       I have been called into school to discuss my child’s behavior

15 -       I have received more than one notice regarding my child’s behavior in school.

16 -      My child has been behaving this way for over 6 months.

Also, please understand that many children exhibit the behaviors I described from time to time, and it’s not always cause for major concern. The frequency, intensity. and duration of the problematic behaviors are what usually is usually customary childhood opposition, (“Mommy, I don’t want to go to bed at 8 pm;” or “why do I have to eat my peas and carrots,”) from ODD (“You can’t make me eat my carrots.”) That’s why it’s important to consult a mental health specialist for a proper assessment if you are concerned about your child.

If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to a number of these statements, it’s possible that your child’s oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) may need professional evaluation. While there may be some genetics involved, I have found in my work that children with ODD are usually carrying parental conflicts, such as parental conflicts over discipline that is too harsh or too lenient, lack of parental affection, lack of closeness with one or both parents, lack of parental supervision, etc. Please notice that all sixteen statements start with parental problems.

Raising a child who has ODD can be a real challenge, especially if you might believe that the situation will never get better.  This can cause you to go into states of #depression, and/or #anxiety. But please remember that your child’s acting poorly is a sign that the family needs to be evaluated by a mental health professional specializing, and evaluating parental dysfunction, and in #curing trauma.

Otherwise your child’s symptoms of pain becomes externalized to others, alienating them. If that happens your child not only loses a loving affectionate relationship with you, but is in danger of becoming a social outcast.

Parents who have helped their marriage find it much easier to deal with their child with ODD. Here are a number of suggestions that work, but only if the two of you are united FOR REAL. This means that you have truly #fixed your relationship. Kids can usually tell when their parents are faking false affection to each other. This recognition can make your child’s symptoms worse. So can the following suggestions unless the two of you are united.

Here are some suggestions for helping your child…

Establish clear rules about appropriate vs. inappropriate behaviors.  Explain to your child the punishment he/she will receive for breaking the rules.  Follow through on these punishments (which should not be overly harsh) if he/she is disobedient. (I used the word “sanction;” my boys are 29 and 26, so I think it’s too late, though they never were ODD and are fine young men.)

Meet with your child’s teachers to make sure you’re on the same page regarding behavior expectations and consequences for breaking the rules for your child.  Consistency is important, not just in the home, but every place your child interacts with anyone else.

Having a joint parent-teacher plan can help in improving your child’s behaviors.

Be a good role model for your child.  For example, if you tell him/her that using swear words is unacceptable, make sure you aren’t swearing in front of him/her.

Please make sure that you are not responding aggressively to your child; be firm, but not demeaning.  Aggression will likely worsen your child’s behavior, and it doesn’t set a good example of appropriate behavior. I know. I was beaten. As a result I have never aggressively touched either boys. YOU DON’T EVER HAVE TO HIT! ALL IT DOES IS TEACH YOUR CHILD THAT IT’S OK TO HIT. It also causes interpersonal ruptures that may take years to make a relational repair.

Designate a ‘cool off’ area for your child to use when he/she is frustrated, angry, and/or misbehaving.  This will help your child learn to remove himself/herself from situations that trigger inappropriate behaviors, and develop better emotion regulation skills.

Praise your child for improvements in behavior, such as showing kindness to others and listening well in school and at home.

Never expect your child to thank you for treating him or her in this manner. Suffering is part of parenting (but not the major part, hopefully).

Ask your child about their friendships. If something doesn’t ring true, or if your child says they don’t have friends, have a compassionate discussion with them. ODD may or may not be the cause, but with the list I gave you, you can be informed of the problem if your child gives answers like, “Nobody likes me,” or “All the kids are jerks.” Then try out some of these strategies.

Your ODD child could experience issues such as peer rejection, declining self-esteem, and a greater risk of depression. If you see those signs in your child it’s important to consider getting professional help right away.

Family therapy can get the the interpersonal roots of this problem. Kids with ODD are usually carrying their parents pain inside them unconsciously. A good family therapist can first help parents be better role models, and then can explore the roots of the problem between the couple. They can teach methods that may help resolve past issues contributing to current behavior problems. The family therapist can also model and teach constructive ways of behaving and relating to others.

You might be feeling alone in this problem you are facing with your child, but you are not alone.  Many children have experienced ODD, and many have had a dramatic reduction in symptoms thanks to professional treatment.  There is still plenty you can do to #help your child improve his/her behavior and way of life

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