Even though sometimes oppositional defiant disorder in children can be mistaken for disorders that share similar characteristics, like conduct disorder or even attention deficit disorder, this is a problem that affects from 6 to 10 percent of children. In order for a child to be diagnosed with oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), they should exhibit at least four or even more behaviors that are characteristic to this disorder (they often lose their temper, they argue with adults and authority figures, they blame others for their mistakes, they refuse to comply with adult requests, they deliberately annoy people and they are easily annoyed by others, they are angry, resentful, spiteful or vindictive) for six months or longer. Also, in order for those kids to be included in his category, there shouldn’t be an alternative explanation for their behavior (for example, a trauma that they’ve suffered). Parenting a child who suffers from ODD can be a real challenge, but studies have shown that the best treatment for it is a parent’s intervention. Here are a few very useful ways to manage oppositional defiant disorder in children that will help you discipline your little ones so that you can lessen their symptoms:
1. Respond without Anger
If you want to learn how to manage oppositional defiant disorder in children, one of the most important things you should do is to remain calm and respond without anger. Even though this may seem a bit hard to achieve at first, I’m sure that in time you will learn how to control your temper and how to not let your emotions cloud your judgment. Just acknowledge their behavior, tell them how you feel about the way they are behaving, explain to them how they should change it and simply end that argument. Try to resist arguing back and definitely avoid power struggles!
2. Create a Behavioral Plan
Another very important thing you should do is to create a behavioral plan, so you can address your child’s behaviors. If they have problems at school, work with their teacher in order to improve their behavior. Find out what their assignments are and help them get their homework done. Also, you can sign them up at all kinds of after-school clubs or simply implement some consequences in case that they don’t do their homework to ensure they will get it done.
3. Establish Clear Rules
Just remember: you are not your child’s friend, you are their parent and you are the one who should discipline them. Establish some clear rules, because children who suffer from this disorder love to argue about fairness and they always try to get away with whatever they can. Just post those rules on your refrigerator or somewhere they can see them all the time and this way, you will be able to refer to them every time it's necessary. Keep the rules simple, include rules about issues like homework, bedtime, chores or any other specific behavioral issues you want to change and make sure you don’t make the list too long.
4. Be Consistent with Consequences
If your kids misbehave and they break those rules you established, then you should be consistent with consequences. If you let them get away once, they will know that you will do that another time too, that you’ll give in when they argue with you and they won’t take you seriously. Experts advise that those negative consequences should be tailored to your child’s temperament. For example, you could not allow them to watch TV or use the computer for a few days or you could not allow them to spend time with their friends or do something that they love.
5. Provide Positive Attention
Children with ODD get punished way more often than kids who don’t have this problem, and that’s why it’s extremely important to provide them positive attention, so you can improve your relationship and reduce their problems. You could spend 15 minutes a day with them just talking, playing or doing any other activity that they love. Do this every day, even in those days when your child doesn’t behave how they should, when they don’t follow those rules you’ve established, because a lot of studies have shown that in the long term, this technique can significantly reduce their behavioral problems.
6. Don’t Take Things Personally!
Try not to take your child’s behavior personally, since they do suffer from a disorder and they will only learn how to control it with your help. Just remain calm, be consistent with your behavior and stay as neutral and objective as possible. There are times when they won’t like you, when they will offend you or when they will tell you different things just to hurt you. Don’t take them personally, follow through by giving them consequences and hold them accountable for their actions in order to correct their behavior and to turn them into a responsible adult.
7. Get Support
If you are feeling overwhelmed and you don’t know what to do anymore to correct your child’s behavior and to discipline them, you may want to consider getting support from a professional counselor that will be able to assist you with different behavior modification techniques at home. There are also support groups you can attend that will provide you the energy to face any challenges, since raising a child with ODD can sometimes be extremely exhausting. Just don’t be afraid to ask for help! I’m sure people will be more than happy to be at your service whenever you need them.
Try to learn as much as you can about this disorder because by understanding it better, you will be able to help you child learn different techniques to improve their behavior. Have you ever dealt with someone with ODD? How did you do it? Do you know any other ways to manage oppositional defiant disorder in children? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments section!