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What is Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) and Tips for Managing it Oppositional Defiant Disorder in Kids

What is ODD and how can I manage my child's behavior?

Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) is a behavioral disorder in children characterized by a clinically significant level of negative, disobedient, and defiant behavior. For a child to be diagnosed with Oppositional Defiant Disorder, symptoms must be present for more than six months. Behavior must be markedly different than typical children of the same age and developmental level and must not be better explained by another disorder or event.

A child with significant behavioral issues may exhibit signs of anxiety, have frequent and severe tantrums, be manipulative, and/or be repetitively defiant towards those in authority. Often these children are labeled by teachers, peers, and parents as disruptive, frustrating, mean, or even “bad.” 

If your child exhibits behaviors associated with Oppositional Defiant Disorder, manage his or her behavior with the following strategies:

1. Use a calm voice when dealing with ODD in kids.

A child with Oppositional Defiant Disorder is often hoping to engage his or her parents in a battle of wills. Explain in as few words as possible your position or parental requirement then do not continue to discuss the issue. It is difficult for kids to argue when they have no one to argue with them! If you engage in a back-and-forth argument with a defiant child, you have given the child the power to control the exchange. Remember, the house rules apply to everyone in your home. If you break one of the house rules, give yourself a consequence like apologizing or taking a short time-out to gather your thoughts. Since kids with ODD often see themselves as victims, lead by example to show your child that you aren't too proud to apologize and that the house rules apply to everyone in the family.

2. Celebrate your child's successes.

Kids with ODD have trouble regulating their emotions, which can lead to the severe outbursts and tantrums associated with the disorder. If your child is able to successfully manage his or her behavior for a a longer than usual period of time, celebrate those successes with a family dinner at a favorite restaurant or some other fun family activity. Let your child know you notice and appreciate the extra effort. Make time to have fun and connect with your child when he or she is calm and functioning well.

3. Create a structured environment.

It's no secret that when children are well-rested, physically fit, and get sufficient nutrition, they are better able to regulate their emotions. Make exercise, healthy meals, and adequate sleep a priority. A structured, healthy lifestyle will not only benefit a child with Oppositional Defiant Disorder but your entire family!

4. Set a few non-negotiable house rules and enforce them with consequences.

Kids with ODD are often anxious and have an overwhelming need to control their environment and others. Keep house rules simple and limited so kids don't feel stifled or overwhelmed. For instance, rules may include, "We don't hurt ourselves, others, or property. We use kind language and don't raise our voices." Display house rules and decide ahead of time on consequences for breaking a rule so kids know what to expect if they do. Once your child has completed the consequence, move on from the incident. Show your child that each new day is a chance to make better choices.

How Brain Balance Can Help Children with ODD

If your child exhibits oppositional defiance or is unable to regulate his or her emotions in an age-appropriate way, we invite you to consider the Brain Balance Program. 

Is your child disruptive or do they struggle with behavioral issues that inhibit his or her daily functioning? Start with our preliminary online assessment quiz. 

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Disclaimer: The information presented on this web site is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. All information is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment of specific medical conditions. Discuss this information with your healthcare provider to determine what is right for you and your family.

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