By Dr. Ray Armstrong

oppositional defiance disorderChildren can sometimes be very difficult to deal with and regularly defiant. Oppositional defiant disorder is a diagnosis in which a child or adolescent sees a persistent pattern of defiance and irritability. The main signs of the condition are generally reserved for individuals that go far outside of the norm in patterns of frequent anger, arguing, irritability and defiance.

Signs of ODD in teens:

  • Ongoing/ Frequent tantrums
  • Regular and deliberate methods used to bother other individuals
  • Seeming easily annoyed
  • Regular mean or hateful speech
  • Excessive arguments and questioning of authority figures
  • Unreasonable anger or resentment towards others
  • Revenge seeking behavior
  • And more

Managing oppositional defiant disorder in adolescents and teens can be extremely difficult. Not only are hormones a growing factor in exacerbating the symptoms of this disorder but ODD can also manifest into several other conditions as a result.

Managing ODD in the home:

Create some house rules which are non negotiable: With a few non negotiable house rules which are heavily enforced in your home, you can make sure that teens have a hard limit. Keeping a rule of not hurting yourself, others or property can be a good start. There can be secondary consequences for issues like harsh language.

Using a calm voice: While enforcing rules with your team be sure to speak to the calmly. If you are constantly screaming at a youth member of your family this can often make any incident more traumatic which can cause further defiant behavior. Engaging with your child on a more peer to peer level is usually a great way to discover some reasons for behavior and to enforce new and positive behaviors.

Work on your home environment: Your home environment is one of the best environments that you can control for a teen with ODD. By creating a schedule for your home where they can sleep at a certain time, exercise, have time for homework and eat healthy meals, this can reduce episodes. Your entire family can benefit as well!

Celebrate success: When your child has had a successful day without displaying heavy symptoms of ODD, consider celebrating their success. Helping a teen to realize that when managing behavior they can be rewarded, will provided positive reinforcement to keep building their success.

Managing ODD with counseling:

Managing a child that has ODD requires ongoing support and with the help of a counselor that specializes in ODD therapy it’s possible to start building more positive interactions as well as managing mental health behaviors. Getting involved with this type of therapy early on will only help to improve its success later on in your child’s adolescent life. When children are able to build positive family interactions early on as well as interactions with authority figures, they can use these strategies later on in their adolescents.

Managing ODD with Medication:

ODD can sometimes require the use of medications and ongoing behavior therapy to develop new skills and interactions for managing more positive behaviors. The severity of ODD can also range from mild in which the symptoms of negativity will appear in just one setting, moderate for which these behaviors are exhibited in at least two settings and then severe in which symptoms carry on through the home, school, out in public and even with friends.

It’s difficult for parents to see this type of behavior as a problem until it becomes unreasonable. If your child starts to exhibit symptoms of ODD that seem much more severe than with peers or other children in your family it could be time to make an appointment with your child’s doctor to seek out therapy options.

ODD is very treatable in adolescents but it is important to remember that early detection and therapy is beneficial to managing the challenges of this condition as your child enters into puberty.