Symptoms of ODD
- Chronic aggression
- Frequent outbursts
- A tendency to argue
- A tendency to ignore requests
- A tendency to engage in intentionally annoying behavior
Children with ODD
- About half of all preschoolers diagnosed with ODD outgrow the problem by age 8.
- If left untreated, oppositional behavior can evolve into conduct disorder and more serious behavioral problems.
The ADHD Link
- Some experts suggest that ODD may be tied to ADHD-related impulsivity. “Many ADHD kids who are diagnosed with ODD are showing oppositional characteristics by default,” says Houston-based child psychologist Carol Brady, Ph.D. “They misbehave not because they’re intentionally oppositional, but because they can’t control their impulses.”
- Other experts suggest that ODD is a way for kids to cope with the frustration and emotional pain associated with having ADHD.
Step One: Make sure your child’s ADHD is under control. Typically, a doctor will put a child on a regimen of ADHD medication, which, in some cases, can also reduce ODD symptoms.
Step Two: Employ behavior modification techniques to help manage the condition.
Step Three: In severe cases, a child may need to see a family therapist trained in childhood behavior problems. It’s a good idea for the therapist to also screen your child for anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder, all of which can cause ODD.
How Parents Can Help
Parent management training — in which parents learn to change the way they react to their child’s behavior — is often highly effective in treating ODD. Between weekly sessions, the parents practice what they’ve learned from the therapist and report back on their progress.
Keep the following in mind when starting a parent management training program:
1) Accentuate the Positive
Positive reinforcement is the heart and soul of parent management training.
- Don’t yell at or spank a child for bad behavior.
- Instead, teach through good example and positive feedback.
2) Enthusiasm Counts
Parents should be enthusiastic when praising their ODD child.
- Specify the praiseworthy behavior.
- Include some non-verbal gesture in your enthusiastic praise. For example, you might say, “It was wonderful the way you played so quietly while I was on the phone!” and then give your child a kiss.
- Tailor rewards and punishments to your child’s specific abilities and needs…
- But remember that consistency in the way you treat your child — the way you set rules and convey expectations — is the key to cleaning up an ODD child’s act.