Parenting A Child With ODD

child screaming with oppositional defiant disorder

Oppositional Defiant Disorder, also known as ODD, is a lesser-known childhood disorder. It can be common in children who have ADD or ADHD, well as adopted children. There are many causes, but whatever your child’s background, it can be tough to parent through! Here is a bit about ODD, and some tips for parenting your child with Oppositional Defiant Disorder in a loving way.

A little about ODD

ODD is a type of Disruptive Behavior Disorder and is listed in the DSM5. The primary symptom is children consistently displaying defiant, hostile, and rude behaviors toward parents and other authority figures. Although some amount of defiance is normal, these children take it to an extreme. It may even become something that they are known for. While its prevalence is debated, it is estimated that as much as 10% of all children will develop ODD at some point. Different children display it in different ways, with boys most often showing physical aggression and girls being more likely to lie and refuse to cooperate.

Avoid unnecessary conflict

While it is crucial for parents to set rules and boundaries, a direct “no” is likely to trigger c hildren with ODD. Instead, try to reduce conflict by referring to previously established rules and schedules. Instead of saying “No, you cannot play right now, do your homework,” respond with “You know the schedule, playtime is in half an hour.” Routines are helpful for most children, and are especially helpful for those with ODD. They preventdirect arguments, which can quickly spiral, and help establish a normal that works for everyone. Any time you can rephrase something to avoid a direct confrontation, it reduces the likelihood of your child becoming symptomatic. Including tools like quiet time can help your child relax, further reducing unhelpful behaviors.

Use positive reinforcement

Instead of focusing on punishing your child when they are “bad,” be intentional about reinforcing positive and pro-social behaviors that they display. When you see them engaging with authority figures in positive ways, tell them you are proud of them! When they are being obedient to you at home, make sure you tell them how much you appreciate it! When you use positive reinforcement, it encourages the behavior and builds positive memories with authority. Try to watch out for opportunities to use positive reinforcement to encourage good behaviors, even if they are small.

Now, you are better prepared to parent and mentor the children in your life who have ODD!

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