Most children are oppositional at times, particularly when tired, hungry, stressed or upset. They may argue, talk back, disobey and defy parents, teachers and other adults. Oppositional behavior is often a part of development for two-three year olds and early adolescents. However, children with Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) have an ongoing pattern of uncooperative, defiant and hostile behavior toward authority figures that interferes with day to day functioning. Some symptoms of ODD may include:
- Frequent temper tantrums
- Excessive arguing with adults
- Questioning rules
- Defiance and refusal to comply with adult requests
- Deliberate attempts to upset or annoy people
- Blaming others for his/her mistakes or misbehavior
- Frequent anger and resentment
- Hateful talking when upset
The symptoms are usually seen in multiple settings, but may be more noticeable at home or at school. The causes of ODD are unknown but many parents report that their child with ODD was more rigid and demanding than the child's siblings from an early age. Parents can help their children with ODD in some of the following ways:
- Build on the positives, give the child praise and positive reinforcement when he shows flexibility or cooperation.
- Take a time-out or break if you are about to make the conflict with your child worse, not better.
- Pick your battles. The child with ODD has trouble avoiding power struggles. If you give your child a time-out to his/her room for misbehavior , don't add time for arguing. Say "your time begins when you go to your room."
- Set up reasonable, age appropriate limits with consequences that can be enforced consistently.
- Manage your own stress with healthy life choices, emotional and spiritual care.