Every class has its clown, the mischievous little boy or girl who loves to disobey the teacher to amuse the rest of the students. Children have their “tough moments”, where they tantrum in the street over a toy and scream on top of their lungs to get what they want.
These incidents, are normal for children to go through especially at young ages. Teachers need to come up with the proper behavioral plans, limits, and rules at school and parents need to stick to their instructions and follow through with consequences.
However, sometimes these incidents are so frequent that they cause impairment in functioning at home and in school. When a pattern begins to develop, with constant oppositional behavior, it may not just be a child acting out of attention. A young boy or girl could be experiencing Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD).
What is Oppositional Defiant Disorder?
ODD is a disorder characterized by frequent and consistent disobedient behavior to authority figures such as parents or teachers. Symptoms of ODD include: temper tantrums, arguing with adults, breaking rules, blaming other people and seeking revenge.ODD occurs more in boys and is typically diagnosed in children between the ages of 6 and 8. Symptoms need to be occurring for at least six months for a diagnosis to be made.
The cause of ODD is still being investigated but parenting styles have been identified as a factor in the development of ODD. If parents reinforce negative behaviors by giving in to tantrums, a child to learn to continue behaviors. Also, children in stressful home environments could be more likely to develop ODD.
ODD remains a risk factor for the more serious Conduct Disorder; however, the two are different disorders. Conduct Disorder involves illegal acts such as theft, aggressive behavior and is overall more extreme in nature.
Oppositional Defiant Disorder and ADHD
There is a 60-80% overlap between people with ADHD and ODD and people with ADHD are 11 times more likely to be diagnosed with ODD. Children with ADHD struggle with emotional regulation and experience their emotions more intensely. While ADHD is characterized by hyperactivity and impulsivity, the inability to regulate emotions is a large component of ADHD.
ODD also shares this relation to emotional regulation as children with ODD act on their emotions. They lack the ability to control their temper and let their current emotions take over and influence their behavior.
People with ADHD often worry too much and are offended easily because of their inability to control their emotions. They may be afraid to start tasks because their immediate anxious moments take over their thinking process.
Emotional regulation issues remain a strong component of both ADHD and ODD which can explain the large overlap between the two disorders.
Parenting tips for Children with ODD
- Use positive reinforcement- praise all positive behaviors to teach your child the appropriate way to receive attention
- Work on social skills- teaching your child the appropriate ways to speak and talk to other peers and teachers
- Family Therapy: Having a child with ODD can affect the whole family. Parents play a large role in the treatment process and can also learn how to manage certain behaviors.
- Psychotherapy for anger- children with ODD can feel intense anger and therapy can help them cope with it
- For Parents; make sure you manage your stress and take care of yourself too with therapy, exercise and other ways of self-care : )
Cavanagh, M., Quinn, D., Duncan, D., Graham, T., & Balbuena, L. (2017). Oppositional defiant disorder is better conceptualized as a disorder of emotional regulation. Journal of attention disorders, 21(5), 381-389.