WHAT EXACTLY IS OPPOSITIONAL DEFIANT DISORDER (ODD)?
ODD is a psychiatric disorder that is characterized by two different sets of problems. These are aggressiveness and a tendency to purposely bother and irritate others. According to diagnostic guidelines, ODD is characterized by a repeating pattern of defiant, disobedient, hostile and negative behavior toward authority figures. These characteristics exist for at least 6 months and must occur more often than other children at the same developmental level.
WHAT ARE THE CHARACTERISTICS OF ODD?
In order to be diagnosed with ODD, children must exhibit 4 or more of the following symptoms:
Often loses temper
Often argues with adults
Often actively defies or refuses to comply with adults' requests or rules
Often blames others for his or her misbehavior or mistakes
Is often touchy or easily annoyed by others
Is often angry and resentful
Is often spiteful and vindictive
WHAT MAKES ODD DIFFERENT FROM CONDUCT DISORDER (CD)?
Children with ODD can certainly be an annoyance and can be difficult to manage in the classroom, but they are rarely harmful to others or physically aggressive. They are often verbally aggressive with authority figures and peers who attempt to give directives or exert power over them. Children or adolescents with CD, however, engage in aggressive or antisocial behaviors that can compromise their own safety, the safety of others and the security of others' possessions. Click here to see more information on Conduct Disorder from the National Mental Health Association.
WHO HAS ODD?
It is estimated that between 2% and 16% of children between the ages of 8 and 18 are diagnosed with ODD, although the diagnosis is sometimes made in children as young as preschool age. More boys are diagnosed with ODD before puberty, but diagnosis rates in males and females are equal after puberty. Additionally, the number and severity of oppositional symptoms tend to increase with age.
WHERE DOES ODD COME FROM?
No single cause for ODD has been determined. There are many interrelated factors that put a child at risk for developing ODD. Risk factors contributing to the onset of ODD and CD in children can be grouped into the following categories: child variables, contextual or family variables, parenting variables and peer/school variables. Interactions amongst these variables over time result in an increased risk for developing aggressive behaviors.
WHAT CAN I EXPECT FROM A CHILD WITH ODD?
In addition to the characteristics previously mentioned, there are other behaviors that can be expected from a child with ODD:
WHAT ARE COMMON TREATMENTS FOR ODD?
Because there are many factors, often interrelated, that put a child at risk for aggression or ODD, there are a variety of treatments that are used to address the problem. Multi-systemic therapy is one of the most common treatments for ODD. This therapy is based on a systems perspective which addresses all problems that play a part in the child’s disruptive behavior, including family, peers, school and the individual at risk. Multi-systemic therapy has been successful in reducing some of the behaviors associated with ODD.
WHAT CAN I DO RIGHT NOW?
Many of the treatments available for aggression or ODD are long-term and require the participation of family and other professionals. Nonetheless, there are a variety of changes that can be made or techniques that can be easily implemented that might make life more pleasant for you and the child.
Build on the positives, not the negatives. Children know when they are bad, and adults often do not hesitate to remind them. Children with ODD are no different; they are used to hearing about all of their negative characteristics. Set up ways for the child to experience the positive feelings associated with cooperation and praise. By creating as many opportunities for positive reinforcement as possible, you set yourself and the child up for a positive experience. As a general rule, each day children should hear more positive than negative comments about themselves.
Use teachable moments to your advantage. Kids with ODD “would be doing well if they could, but they lack the capacity for flexibility and frustration management that ordinary children develop.” Because these children never picked up on these skills, it is to their advantage, and yours, to use everyday life to teach them. This can be done through modeling. If the adult does not lose their temper during a confrontation but uses effective communication skills to work through the problem, a child will learn these skills through seeing them. Skills can also be learned through direct teaching. Helping a child to identify emotions and walking him or her through the steps of problem solving are a couple of ways to directly teaching much needed skills to a child with ODD.
Pick your battles. Most children with ODD are doing quite a few things that you dislike, but if everything is a battle you will get nowhere. Choose what you will ignore, what is negotiable, and what needs to be reinforced and place these rules into three “baskets.” This will remind you and the child of the rules in the classroom.
Take a break from the conflict. If you lose your cool, the child will see it happen and no ground will be gained as a result of the confrontation. Learn to step back and take a break. This will help you gain perspective on the conflict and think calmly about fair and logical consequences.
Don’t take it personally.
These children are experts at pushing your buttons, so don't let them. Keep your composure, no matter how difficult.
Refuse to join the fight. Is it really worth it to argue with a child?
Ease up the controls.
Give genuine choices. Give them control when you can.
Connect with what you like about the child. Don’t forget that he or she is a child with many wonderful features. Work on that part of your relationship and help them remember who they are.
Click here for a Stress Reduction Kit
WHERE CAN I GET MORE INFORMATION?
General information about behavioral disorders
Conduct Disorder vs. Oppositional Defiant Disorder
Intervention strategies (home and school)
Does My Teen Need Help? (Questionnaire)
Links to more information
Toll free crisis/help line
Free online expert help for problem kids
Video classes and continuing educational workshops
General “All time favorite” Interventions
Free samples and magazines
Links to more information
Support site for caregivers
Chat with other caregivers of children with ODD.
Share challenges and frustrations
Exchange ideas with others.
Read articles and get book suggestions.
Full of general information about ODD.
Information about other mental health disorders.
Great links for learning more about:
General mental health.
Defining characteristics of Disruptive Disorders
Intervention Strategies for the Mainstream Teacher
Specific steps for interventions
Examples of successful interventions
Useful charts and graphs
ADDITIONAL SITES WITH INFORMATION ON ODD:
http://www.adhd.com.au/conduct.html - Causes and treatments for ODD/CD
http://childparenting.about.com/library/blchildbehaviordisorder.htm - Guide to resources for parents of children with behavioral and mental problems
www.focusas.com/BehavioralDisorders.html - Broad resources addressing a variety of problem behaviors and disorders of children, adolescents and young adults
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/oddparentsroom/ Chatroom for parents with children with ODD
www.haworthpress.com/store/sampleText/J007.pdf - Innovative Mental Health Interventions for Children: Programs that Work
www.ici2.umn.edu/preschoolbehavior/tip_sheets/hostagg.pdf - Preventing and dealing with challenging behavior
www.ici2.umn.edu/preschoolbehavior/tip_sheets/passagg.htm - Dealing with Passive Aggressive Behavior
http://www.klis.com/chandler/pamphlet/oddcd/oddcdpamphlet.htm Overview of ODD, case examples, non-medical strategies for dealing with ODD/CD
www.lifematters.com/4goals.html - An article that addresses the children's underlying goals of typical misbehavior and how adults can recognize them
www.youthchg.com/hottopic.html - Interventions for aggressive behavior in children
American Psychiatric Association (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed., rev.). Washington DC: Author.
Carson, R. C., Butcher, J. N., & Mineka, S. (1998). Abnormal psychology and modern life: Tenth edition. New York: Addison Wesley
Chandler, J. (2001). Oppositional Defiant Disorder/Conduct Disorder Pamphlet. <http://www.klis.com/chandler/pamphlet/oddcd/treat1.htm>
26 Mar, 2003.
Jabs, C. (1999). Is your child too defiant? Working Mother, Mar. 99. <http://www.conductdisorders.com/FAQ.asp.>03 Jun, 2003.
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