Oppositional Defiant Disorder: Helpful Parenting Guide and Tips

Oppositional Defiant Disorder is one of the mental health disorders of children.

As children become adults, it is normal for them to explore their surroundings, engage in new activities and challenge authority. In fact, you want to encourage them to become their own person because it is in preparation for the responsibilities and joys of adulthood.

However, there are instances when children including teenagers can be more than a handful, so to speak. If the symptoms add up, your child may have Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD).

What to Look Out For

It must be emphasized that not all children with a strong will can be considered as belonging to children with Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Only mental health professionals will be able to provide definitive diagnosis upon evaluation of the symptoms, which can include the following:

  1. Temper tantrums
  2. Argumentative behavior with both adults and children even at the slightest provocation
  3. Refusal to comply with requests especially from adults
  4. Deliberate setting out to annoy people
  5. Often blaming others for his/her mistakes or misbehavior
  6. Being often touchy or easily annoyed by others
  7. Aggressive, resentful, spiteful and vindictive behavior towards peers such that friendships are difficult to maintain
  8. General negativity

Where to Look for Help

Yes, indeed, you have many professionals willing to offer assistance so as to treat your child's ODD. Besides, you will need professional help because the symptoms of ODD are often very similar to other behavioral and mental health issues. Or it can be that the symptoms are brought by other mental health disorders like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Anxiety and Depression as well as substance abuse.

Ask your child's pediatrician for referral to a psychologist, psychiatrist, or other mental health professionals, as previously mentioned. Keep in mind that the earlier the treatment is provided, a better prognosis can be achieved.

What to Do

The easiest way to deal with children's behavior is to change your behavior and communication patterns, instead of forcing your children to change first. Especially, children with ODD tend to be argumentative, it is a good idea to avoid power control.

If the interactions and communication with your child is not working, it is time to change the communication patterns.
Family counseling and In-home therapy are designed to provide parents with practical knowledge on how to provide effective timeouts, remain calm even when faced with hostile opposition, assert parental authority while respecting the child, and reinforcing positive behavior, to name a few.

You may think of such knowledge as common sense or basic parenting but it can be difficult to implement when you are under stress from constant attacks as a parent from your own child. You have to constantly practice these tips from a family therapist until such time that you can handle your child's ODD at home.

And speaking of home, you should try to change a few things that may be the stressors of the tense confrontations between your child and the rest of the family. The cliché about loving your child unconditionally also comes in handy. Soon, your child will be his/her own person but without the negative aspects of Oppositional Defiant Disorder.

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