A Name for their Unacceptable Behavior


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As a psych major, and a person with a defiant younger brother, one disorder has always particularly caught my eye. Are some kids just being kids or is there a larger underlying problem? Oppositional Defiant Disorder, or ODD, is a serious childhood psychiatric disorder affecting 6-10% of the population. The diagnostic criteria from the DSM-IV are as follows: (http://childdevelopmentinfo.com/child-psychology/oppositional-defiant-disorder/)
A.  A pattern of negativistic, hostile, and defiant behavior lasting at least 6 months, during which four (or more) of the following are present:
(1) often loses temper
(2) often argues with adults
(3) often actively defies or refuses to comply with adults' requests or rules
(4) often deliberately annoys people
(5) often blames others for his or her mistakes or misbehavior
(6) is often touchy or easily annoyed by others
(7) is often angry and resentful
(8) is often spiteful or vindictive
Parents with ODD tend to have trouble parenting their children due to these aggressive and disagreeable behaviors and tendencies. I decided to take a closer look at parenting styles and which is most effective in helping treat and cope with this disorder.



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James Lehman, a therapist who works with children and adolescents on their social problems throughout the country, seems to understand how serious the disorder can be. He discusses effective discipline and parenting methods that can be successful in dealing with it. Since the worst thing for children with ODD is unstructured time, it is important for parents to set clear boundaries and have their child busy with structured activities. The problem with disciplining children with ODD is that they typically will not respond well to a time-out. Due to the irrational thought process of the child, he/she will not use any "cooling-off" time or downtime beneficially and will be plotting some sort of revenge. Lehman claims that the child's oppositional behavior is often due to his inability to solve a problem. Apparently, it is important to teach the child effective coping through problem solving skills and not to give out unwarranted rewards. One of the worst things a parent can do is focus on personality and self-esteem, he claims. Praise should only occur when the child conquers something challenging. It is crucial the child's success for him not be given a reward to foster a false sense of self-worth.
I could not find an article that provided information on which specific parenting style is the worst when raising a child with ODD. It's safe to assume than anything but the authoritative parenting style, one that involves moderate amounts of discipline and gives child a clear sense of expectations with fair guidelines, feedback, and rewards, would be the most effective. However, it is clear that all parenting styles need to be tailored to their child's individual needs. For a child with ODD, typical punishments seem to fail in sending the right message or making progress. A permissive or neglectful parenting style is probably the worst for a child with ODD. If a parent is too permissive, it seems a child suffering from the disorder would constantly act out without structured time or a clear authority figure. A child with ODD needs a specific type of attention, one that takes a lot of patience, time, and care from a parent. To be out of touch with a child and his needs would be detrimental to anyone. But, if a child's ODD is not treated or addressed, it can lead to Conduct Disorder. This disorder is more serious, arises in adolescence or early adulthood, and often involves criminal and excessively destructive behaviors and thinking. The best advice for parents of children with ODD? Get professional help and experiment with different approaches instead of falling back on your typical parenting skills that seem to be failing your child.

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