5 Ways Parents Can Infuse Positivity in Children with ODD
Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) is a childhood disorder that is a frequent pattern of angry, uncooperative behavior, which often results in outward hostility, typically displayed by verbally aggressive behaviors toward parents and other authority figures. This condition is one of the more common mental health disorders found in children and adolescents and is characterized by what I’d call the five persistent “D traits”:
These “D traits” are not attributed to a substance abuse disorder or a more serious mental condition. Treatment of ODD involves a combination of therapies, including cognitive problem-solving training, social skills training, individual and family therapy, parent training, and parent-child interaction therapy.
What can you do if you are concerned about your child’s ODD?
Treatment should be tailored to meet the specific needs of your child. It should possess the following attributes:
- Centered around both the individual & the family dynamics
- Developmentally and culturally appropriate
- Involve a consistent application of techniques
Below are five “Power of Positive” techniques that you can immediately apply to reinforce your child’s positive behavior and help him develop skills in handling frustration, avoiding temper tantrums and having angry outbursts.
DR. DOUG’S FIVE “POWER OF POSITIVE” TECHNIQUES
#1 Recognize and praise your child’s good behaviors
This strategy promotes and increases the frequency of desired behavior. Studies have shown that the best treatment for children with ODD involves rewarding positive behavior and teaching them skills to manage negative emotions.
#2 Provide clear instructions and expectations on tasks or responsibilities
When your child is made aware of expectations for a certain task (e.g. chores, homework, etc.) and knows what the natural consequences involved are in advance, any defense or justification of the consequences gets removed. Remaining objective rather than subjective, and following through with consistent and appropriate consequences when needed, becomes a more powerful approach.
#3 Provide supportive and regular supervision
Being there for your children, both physically and emotionally, is vital to their overall well-being. Allowing children to express their emotions in a healthy manner where you are there to listen and attend to their emotional needs can create a more open, cooperative relationship.
#4 Collaboratively problem-solve with your child
Ask your child for his advice on how he would come up with a solution to a problem. This empowers him to generate ideas on his own and takes away any opportunity to rebel against an authority figure. By asking questions instead, kids feel empowered and feel that we trust them to make choices for their own life. However, you may need to prompt your child, if he is unwilling or unable to initiate ideas, by asking questions such as:
- “What approach do you think would be best for…?”
- “What would it take for you to accomplish…?”
- “How do you feel about…?”
- “If you find yourself feeling this way, what can you do to feel more calm and relaxed?”
#5 Establish a good relationship with a mental health professional
ODD is not always easy to accurately diagnose. It is important to see if your child’s behavior is in response to a recent event or transition, maturational development, ODD, or another behavioral, anxiety, or mood disorder. Working with a mental health professional can help determine the root causes of the behaviors.
- Is your child’s behavior in response to peers? All authority figures? Just parents/ guardians?
- Is your child’s behavior the result of stressful situations occurring in the family?
- Are the behaviors short-lived or long-lasting?
Persistent defiance, stubbornness, and resistance to following rules and directions can be tiring for any parent. That is why it is important to seek a support team to help provide you strategies on how to decrease the opposition and increase positive behavior. The process can be long and arduous and will require practice, patience, and consistency on your part in displaying unconditional love and acceptance of your child through the most challenging of times.
Douglas Haddad, Ph.D. is an award-winning educator and author. You can go online or to a local bookstore and pre-order his new book The Ultimate Guide to Raising Teens and Tweens: Strategies for Unlocking Your Child’s Full Potential. Visit: www.douglashaddad.com and pick up a free PDF copy of The WHOLE LOTTA LIVING Guide for You and Your Family.
This post originally appeared on our January/February 2017 Magazine