The definition of ODD:
[Oppositional Defiance Disorder]: a child or teenager exhibiting a persistent, regular (occurring multiple times a day over a period lasting more than 6 months) pattern of random outburst tantrums, argumentative with everyone over anything and everything in a raised voice, angry, hostile, and aggressive behavior toward all authoritative figures, spewing negativity in all forms, completely defiant, disobedient, refusing to comply with requests, purposely annoying others, provoking others, blames everyone for his/her mistakes or misbehavior, acts touchy and is annoyed easily by others, feels much anger and resentment, is spiteful & vindictive, has difficulty maintaining friendships, feels socially unaccepted, acts aggressively toward peers, has academic problems, and most importantly – has a serious lack of self-esteem. A child/teenager with ODD is deliberately destructive to other people’s property, lies often about big and little things, has tendencies and desires to steal from people they know and do not know often – shoplifting, feel entitled to the objects they steal and will justify their actions when confronted about the theft, will often break curfew, skip school, has run away from home (or attempted to or talks about it), may experiment with drugs and sex at a young age, and engages in physical fights often in public – school – home (attacking parents), threatens or attempts suicide.
What leads a professional to diagnosis this disorder is the severity and length of time the child has demonstrated these signs. Let’s face it, what child hasn’t shown some or all of these traits during their childhood? Many people see a child in this description as a troubled teen. Most people will say all children have and they would be justified in saying so. These behaviors are normal for all children at different stages in their youth. But what makes ODD significant is the length of time and the severity of these behaviors.
The significant difference in this disorder and normal youth disobedience is that the child/teenager’s behaviors affect not just themselves and their parents, but also their peers, teachers, friends, grand parents, church members, and everyone that comes in contact with them in public – everyday over an extended period of 6 months to several years. Many people interviewed have stated that they can not stand to be around a child with ODD even though they love them and want to see them recover. Some people have even gone so far as to have said that they hate their child with this disorder. They feel as though they have failed miserably as a parent and some parents, sadly… simply give up 🙁 A child with this behavior disorder is not uneducated or of low intelligence. Actually the opposite is true. I have discovered that this disorder is driven through high intelligence in a child with a serious lack of self-esteem.
What causes ODD?
Oppositional Defiance Disorder affects only a very small number of children/teenagers and often times it exists in a co-morbid state with another physiological disorder such as ADD/ADHD, Bipolar disorder, sleep disorders, and depression/ anxiety.
Professionals have also linked the onset of ODD to a lack of supervision, lax – inconsistent, or harsh parenting (harsh discipline), abuse, neglect, an imbalance of serotonin in the brain, a strained family environment (a lot of arguing, yelling, and marital separations/divorce), and developmental delays in brain development. ODD is considered more of a “personality disorder” really and if addressed early enough can be corrected before a child reaches the teenager years. If treatment for ODD has not begun until the teenage years, there is still hope, but the treatment period may be a more lengthy and need much more time and effort.
I understand how you feel!
It’s very common for a parent with an ODD child to feel like a failure. They feel as though they are at the end of their rope, can’t take it anymore, and often feel like giving up. And the saddest part is…some parents do give up. Some parents say they hate their children and they hear other people tell them they hate to be around the child also. Many of these children will end up out of the home on their own at an early age, in juvenile, or being packed off to live with someone else. As a parent you will hear debasing comments from the child with ODD often. Please don’t allow the harsh things you hear from your child “stick” in your mind. Many times, these children don’t mean what they blurt out in an episode anyway.
It’s a challenge. You’ll cry because they have insulted you, lose your temper also from time to time, and want to react to the child in the same way they are acting toward you. You are not a failure though. Youth with Oppositional Defiance Disorder will use anything they can think of to hurt you and enjoy causing a rift in your marriage or home between all family members. If they know you have a weakness, they will exploit it. I promise you though, your child is not the spawn of evil and there is hope! We must maintain our composure and when you implement a behavior modification plan, you’ll be the one in control of this seemingly disrespected and destructive child.
What do I do?
If you think that you have a child that fits this description, behavior modification is the best and most effective approach. Therapy is helpful also (according to articles on-line.) Some professionals recommend a cocktail of medications, but there are many resources available to help parents that feel as though they have reached the end of their rope that will not have any medical side effects as such medications can/may/do have.
In the next few articles, I will share with you our journey through raising a teenager with Oppositional Defiance Disorder and the things that have worked for us and the things that have failed miserably. We are 1 year into this journey and have made
huge massive amazing large life changing significant progress that I hope will bring hope to other parents or authority figures out there that are dealing with this commonly undiagnosed disorder.
Here are some on-line resources for further reading: