THE OPPOSITIONALLY DEFIANT TEEN
Oppositional behavior is a normal part of the pre-teen and adolescent stage. However, extremely uncooperative and hostile behaviors on a consistent basis become a serious concern when it affects all areas of the child’s social life, including the family.
An ongoing pattern of resistance to authority figures interferes with the teen and family’s everyday life.
Symptoms of ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder) would include:
- Refusal to comply with adult rules or requests
- Questioning rules and authority
- Arguing with adults/authority figures
- Temper tantrums—-having to win
- Deliberately annoying
- Blaming others
- Easily upset or annoyed by others
Symptoms appear more frequently at home but are seen in multiple settings as well. Greater than five percent of adolescents may have ADD. The causes of ODD are unknown and begin to be noticed by parents at an early age, especially when there are other siblings in the home. Biological, psychological, and other environmental or social factors may have a role.
ODD may sometimes by accompanied by other disorders such as ADD/ADHD. The coexisting disorders should be treated along with the ODD. If left untreated, the child may go on to develop more severe conduct disorder. Parents should have a comprehensive evaluation to determine the best method of treating the presenting disorder.
At Wolf Creek Academy, we address issues such as ODD by a variety of methods including medication (prescribed by their psychiatrist) along with a teaching-model, including Individual Psychotherapy with the adolescent, parent training, as well as Family Psychotherapy to improve communication and resolve family conflicts. Social skills are taught with the adolescent to increase flexibility and frustration tolerance with others.
Although proper diagnosis and medication are extremely helpful in managing the disorder of ODD, the role of parents is extremely important as well. The parents should seek support and counsel and may help their child in various ways.
Choose your battles and deal with one issue at a time. If you send them to their room for a period of time for time-out, don’t add extra time for arguing about going. Understand that they have a hard time avoiding a power struggle. If you see that you are becoming frustrated, take a break or a time-out before you proceed to make things worse. This will also model a good example for your child. Allow your child the same opportunity to take a time-out as well if they are beginning to become angry in order to avoid a major conflict.
Set reasonable age-appropriate consequences and limits. Month-long groundings prove to be difficult to enforce and are rarely successful. Only set limits that you can enforce and reasonably live with.
Provide positive reinforcement and try to always elaborate on the positives instead of always pointing out the negatives. Give praise when they show cooperation or flexibility. Understand that they will struggle with a critical approach.
Be certain to take care of your own health by proper nutrition and exercise and give yourself breaks away from the home as needed. If things should become increasingly difficult to continue a normal family life, you may need to consider whether the adolescent may need more care than what can be provided in the home.
Many parents seeking help for their child may wait until things have become so difficult that the family has split and they are desperate. It is in those situations that they find themselves possibly making hasty decisions that may not be the best for the adolescent or the family in the long run.
If you find that you are at your wits end and are doing all that you know to do and need help, seek professional recommendation for residential treatment for your child before ending up in trouble.