Is Your Child/Teen Exhibiting Bad Behavior?
Learn More About Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) in Children and Adolescents
Oppositional Defiant Disorder (also known as ODD) is a disorder categorized by a frequent and persistent patterns of anger, irritability, arguing, defiance, or vindictiveness towards others. ODD is debilitating and affects children and teens both behaviorally and emotionally. The effects of ODD are experienced by all members of the family, not just the child. It can hinder relationships with parents, siblings, teachers, authority figures, and other caregivers. ODD can lead to other problems as well, such as poor school performance, antisocial behavior, impulse control problems, and adult behavioral problems later in life.
There is no clear cause for ODD, but it appears to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors. There are, however, risk factors in ODD, including temperament, parenting issues (such as neglect, abuse, and irregular discipline), and other family issues (such as parental mental disorders, parental substance use, and family discord). In order to help children with ODD it is important to seek qualified help for the child as soon as possible.
While studies have shown that in some cases ODD does improve over time, it is in the interest of the child to seek help sooner rather than later, before negative behavioral characteristics become engrained. Each treatment plan should be tailored to the individual child for best results. There are multiple treatment strategies for ODD, depending on age and severity of symptoms. Treatments usually include different combinations of behavioral therapy techniques, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), including parent coaching, family therapy, cognitive problem-solving skills trainings, social skills training, anger management skills, and school-based support. Medication is sometimes used in conjunction with therapy, usually when ODD is comorbid with another disorder. On it’s own, medication is not a viable treatment option.
For preschool age children, treatment usually involves parent support and education in addition to child therapy. Parent coaching helps teach the parents how to manage the child’s behavior. Parents are taught positive reinforcement techniques, and more effective disciplinary techniques. They are taught to have clear boundaries with their children, as to which behaviors will be rewarded and discouraged. Parents also learn how to become diligent with the reinforcement system. The goal, over time, is for rewarded behaviors to become habitual over time. In individual therapy, a child therapist aims to teach the child important coping mechanisms and skills. These can include expressing anger in appropriate ways, solving problems with others, and understanding how their behavior affects others. Adolescents are best served by individual therapy. In addition, parent support and training is often included in this treatment plan.
Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) may at first appear to be a phase, but if symptoms persist parents should consider seeking professional support. Left untreated, ODD can worsen and can lead to additional mental health problems, effect long-term functioning and adult behavior. Treatment is successful in many children, behavioral therapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy are the leading methods for treating children and adolescents with ODD. There are many aspects of behavioral therapy that can be used in treating ODD, however, the main goal in treatment is to replace unwanted behaviors with more appropriate alternatives.
At GroundWork Counseling in Maitland, our child therapists have experience working with families and children/teens struggling with ODD, and behavioral issues. Oftentimes our therapists will provide parenting support in addition to child therapy to support the entire family.
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