Raising children is a major challenge. Every age requires a special talent from the parent. However when a child has a mental disorder then the challenge can become almost impossible to meet. So it is with “Oppositional Defiant Disorder.” Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) occurs when a child, and it can occur at almost any age, defies you, the parent at any time and over anything.
The first thing to understand is this is a mental condition that can be treated without medication. A parent is equipped to deal with it although they may not feel like they are.
When we have a problem with another person whether they are a child or not we usually are focused on the outcome. We want what is best for everyone. We want a so-called “win-win” situation, right? However a child with oppositional defiant disorder doesn’t see things that way. To them the argument is power. They are masters at “attacking” a parent.
I have been in that situation both as a child and as a parent.
Often when we punish a child we think that the issue is closed. All children continue to think about it and some children will bring up the issue and try to talk their parents into changing a punishment. However a child with oppositional defiant disorder will not approach the situation that way.
How does Oppositional Defiant Disorder Work?
Let’s say that the parents of a child with oppositional defiant disorder are getting ready to go out to dinner. The child might ask why they are not being allowed to say go to a party at their best friend’s house. The reason may have been because they were late getting home the last time they went out. Suppose that happened a week ago. You are no longer upset about that fact since a week has elapsed. However the mark of the child with oppositional defiant disorder is the willingness to start a fight while the parents are getting ready to go out. They don’t want to have a fight as they are leaving so they are more likely to give in. Children with ODD are masters at timing.
As I said medication is not mandatory for ODD.
What can parents do to battle Oppositional Defiant Disorder?
While medication is not mandatory counseling is valuable. However consider the aforementioned situation. If you are going away and your son or daughter approaches with a “fight in mind” simply say that you will not talk about it now but will set a time to discuss it. If the party is tomorrow night then advise them you will discuss it in the morning.
Advising that you want to set a time gives you back the control. The main rule to remember is that “It takes two to argue.”
One other thing to remember is that you should always set up a situation in which the child has a choice based on their performance. In other words when you are discussing the situation on your terms you might say “If you keep your temper in our discussion there will be no additional punishment even though you brought the issue up again. If you do yell at me again then I will add another two days of grounding.
In this situation the rules are specific, they rely on the child’s behavior and there is a result for both potential behaviors.
Oppositional Defiant Disorder can tear a family apart if it isn’t dealt with.
“How to Deal with an Oppositional Child,” Article, Katrina Schurter, Healthy Cells Magazine, November 2010
Mayo Clinic Website, “Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)”