Oppositional Defiant Disorder: How to Tell If Your Child Has It
Perhaps, children being defiant sometimes is normal, but being defiant most of the time is alarming. It may be pointing at a serious disorder that you may not know, and treating it will require the assistance of a professional. It could point to a neurodevelopmental disorder in which children’s brain encounter growth problem.
A neurodevelopmental disorder has two common types in the epitome of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and oppositional defiant disorder (ODD). The two is almost similar but is still different in some way.
In this article, our topic will focus on ODD.
What is Oppositional Defiant Disorder?
Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) is a behavioral disorder characterized by being defiant at all times. Moreover, the child struggles to pay attention, control impulses, listen or even get along with other children as well as adults because of being argumentative, disobedient, and war freak. These problems may interfere with their education as well as their social life.
One to 16% is the estimated percentage of children suffering from ODD. Interestingly, it is more common among boys than girls. The behavioral disorder usually manifests in a child before he or she reaches 8 years of age. It persists in teenage years and can intervene with the daily activity of an individual suffering from it.
What are the Possible Causes of Behavioral Disorder?
Experts cannot trace and identify the exact cause for the occurrence of the disorder. However, many developmental theories have been linked to it. For instance, the child’s failure for autonomy during his/her toddler years is one of the theories that experts are looking at. Because of this autonomy-failure, the child’s behavior continues throughout his/her childhood.
Learning theory offers a different approach. They theorize that ODD is a representation of what the adults reinforce and children, in response, learn their behavior through it. For example, parents tend to scold a child for misbehaving, but the child misbehaves even more in response.
ODD may also be connected to other mental or behavioral disorder such as anxiety, depression, and ADHD.
What are the Symptoms of ODD?
If you suspect your child to have ODD, you may notice the following symptoms occurring to him/her:
- Always angry
- Don’t follow rules
- Always find someone to blame for their own mistakes
- Seek to annoy most everyone around them
- Easily annoyed
- Question authority
- Often arguing with adults
Because of the symptoms of ODD, children tend to dismiss school activities resulting for them to fall behind classes. Another cause of this possibility is their refusal to follow rules in school. Moreover, it’s difficult for them to establish or keep relationships due to the severity of their behavioral disorder. Even siblings and parents may affect behavioral problems.
How to Diagnose ODD?
If you have been observing your child and notice the mentioned symptoms, most probably, your child is suffering from ODD. If your child’s teacher expresses the same concern, having an appointment with the child’s doctor might be the best approach. Your child’s pediatrician may point your child to a mental expert for further evaluation and treatment.
Assessing your child behavioral problem may require professional interviews and observation to fully identify the problem. But the clinician may want to wait for the appropriate age to fully identify your child as an ODD patient. Ages 2 to 3 are normal age for the child to act as if he/she has symptoms of ODD, but the age 4, mental health professionals can make a firm diagnosis to categorize your child as an ODD sufferer.
Furthermore, you must be sure that your child has the same treatment as other people and not just one person, say his/her sibling. If his behavior is affecting his/her school work and your life at home, he/she is most probably have the disorder.
How to Treat ODD
If your child has been diagnosed to be suffering from ODD after conducting the professional assessment, the mental health professional will determine the appropriate treatment for your child. There are several on their list which includes:
- Individual Therapy – Issues such as anxiety and depression are usually the target of the therapy. The therapy provides skill training or techniques to manage anger, control impulses, and develop problem-solving skills.
- Parent Training – Approaching the behavioral problem is sometimes more effective by modifying the behavior itself. What the mental health professional does sometimes is meet with the caregivers separately to train them with specific parenting method to approach the behavior.
- Family Therapy – Experts consider the age and needs of an ODD individual, and sometimes a family therapy is necessary. The therapy may involve parents, step-parents, siblings, or family members’ combination.
- Group Therapy – One of the many problems of ODD individuals is their lack of social skills. Group therapy may be effective to develop such skill. It will teach ODD sufferers to properly interact with peers and acquaintances as well as other individuals.
- Medication Management – Medications do not solve ODD, neither other behavioral problems. However, sufferers may benefit from it when the cause of it is associated with issues like depression and ADHD.
If provided with the right treatment, two-thirds of children have a bigger chance to get better just in 3 years. On the sad note, ODD can be worse if the child is not provided with the appropriate treatment. This is why doctor’s screening is important to fully identify the disorder. For instance, your child might have another behavioral disorder and, therefore, need another kind of approach.
Being a Parent of a Child with ODD
Parenting a child with an ODD issue may be exhausting and frustrating at times. It is quite normal to feel that way, but you have to take of yourself as well. Find support and consider joining a group whose participants are parents with ODD children. These people may give you emotional support and they may give you guidance and strategies on how to deal with your child on a better approach.
For your child’s educational support, a special service may help him/her manage his/her behavior. You may speak with school officials about the matter and they may provide you for the best option.