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Recognizing Oppositional Defiant Disorder in Young Adults

Even the most angelically-behaved children push boundaries now and then. It’s a normal part of child development to test limits set by parents, teachers, and other adults. But what about early adolescents and teens who are consistently uncooperative and hostile? 

When a pattern of bad behavior begins wearing on family dynamics, your child’s relationships with friends, and performance at school, it may be time to speak to a professional at Valley Oaks about what could be oppositional defiant disorder (ODD).

Signs and symptoms

Although the causes of oppositional defiant disorder are unknown, social, psychological, and biological factors have been noted to play a part in the development of ODD. 

Below are some of the signs children may exhibit if they are suffering from this condition:

  • Using cruel or foul language when upset
  • Intentionally angering others
  • Shifting blame onto others for their own mistakes
  • Easily annoyed 
  • Refusal to comply with rules or requests
  • Excessive arguing with adults
  • Resentful attitude
  • Easily angered without provocation
  • Seeking revenge whether or not someone has wronged them

How parents can help

  • Reward positive behavior – Praise and encouragement can go a long way with a child. Engage in this type of interaction and ignore inappropriate behavior that isn’t harmful.
  • Choose your battles – Part of ODD’s disruptive nature is the power struggle. Be precise with your words and rules. Do not engage in arguments. Instead, disengage when situations begin to escalate.
  • Set limits – Inappropriate actions should have repercussions. Consistently reinforcing consequences is critical when setting boundaries and establishing respect for your authority. If punishments go unenforced, there is no motivation for a child to change their behavior.
  • Take a time out – Taking a time out is just as crucial for you as it is for your child. If your anger level rises to the point that maintaining a level head is impossible, tell your child, “I’m feeling frustrated and want to talk about this when we’ve both cooled down a bit.” If your child becomes louder or more forceful with their words, ignore them. As difficult as it may seem, the behavior will cease. Loud voices met with quiet have nothing to elevate or react to.
  • Seek advice – One of the best things you can do for the mental health of your child and yourself is to seek help. Counselors can facilitate positive techniques that manage emotions and behavior. Caregivers should also have a safe space to discuss how raising a child with ODD affects their life.

Valley Oaks understands the stressors that oppositional defiant disorder brings to families. If your child presents symptoms that align with some that we’ve shared in this blog post, please contact us to schedule an evaluation. There are strategies and techniques we can lead you through to help your child, and your family.

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