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When to Draw the Line with Oppositional Defiant Children

When to Draw the Line with Oppositional Defiant Children


When to Draw the Line with Oppositional Defiant Children


Parenting is never easy. Not only is it exhausting, but it tests the limits of your patience, compassion, and forgiveness. It is the hardest job ever, but it can also be the most rewarding, if your child turns out as you hope.

It becomes even more difficult when you have a child who often argues, breaks rules, and defies authority figures, such as parents, teachers, and other adults. While it is common for young children and adolescents to exhibit episodes of disobedience, tantrums, and irritability, it is different when your child goes beyond the normal range of stubbornness, hostility, backtalk, and defiance. In this case, your child may have oppositional defiant disorder, or ODD.


Understanding Oppositional Defiant Disorder

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry classifies ODD as a group of behavioral disorders also termed “disruptive behavioral disorders” (DBD). The term indicates the characteristic upsetting behavior of the children with the condition.

These children often display angry outbursts and have difficulty controlling their tempers, especially if faced with a rule, limit, or demanding situation. They also show a chronic pattern of uncooperativeness, aggressiveness, spitefulness, and negativity, usually directed at parents and other authority figures. The behavior, if severe enough, can interfere with their daily functioning at home and elsewhere.

There is no known clear-cut cause of ODD. Studies suggest that the condition is caused by a complex interaction of various factors related to the biological, psychological, and social nature of the child. It is further developed as the child interacts with the family and other environments, especially when there’s a family history of psychological, emotional, or behavioral health issues.

A child who is neglected, abused, or lacking parental supervision is susceptible to ODD. Also, it is not uncommon for children with other emotional conditions, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, or depression, to manifest ODD symptoms.


Spotting the Symptoms

Even the best behaved children have bouts of irritability, frustration, and hostility over the course of their growth and development. Those with ODD, however, display these negative behaviors with such regularity that they disrupt the functioning of their families and classrooms, not to mention their social interactions and relationships.

The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) lists the symptoms often observed in children with this disorder. The negative and hostile behavior, which must have lasted for at least six months, includes non-compliance with adults’ requests or rules; acting deliberately to annoy people; being resentful, vindictive, argumentative, and short-tempered; and blaming others for their misbehavior.


When Does ODD Warrant Professional Counseling?

Parenting a child diagnosed with ODD is a challenge, not only because of the defiant behavior, but also because some intervention strategies may not work, such as boot camps, scare tactics, removal of privileges, and grounding. Studies have proved that children with ODD, especially those severely affected, do not respond well to punishments with unclear messages, rules, or expectations. Due to their poor frustration tolerance, they find it difficult to overcome uncomfortable situations where they see little reward for their struggles. As a result, they get more annoyed or angry, and more difficult to comfort and calm down.

This pattern of behavior can leave any parent feeling completely powerless to control a child with ODD. The fear that one wrong move can trigger a serious tantrum makes parents avoid contact with the child. As a result, the child feels isolated, anxious, and paranoid, and suffers with low self-esteem, while others anxiously expect explosive behavior long before it transpires. Although the child may be aware of others’ feelings toward him or her, it is not enough to transform the negative conduct. At this point, ODD may be a reason to seek professional help.


Putting an End to Defiant Behavior

In the past, it was thought that children with ODD would outgrow the symptoms in time. While this is sometimes true, most symptoms persist and the children suffer consequences as they age.

If you suspect that your child has ODD, seeking treatment is critical. Early intervention can help the child manage the symptoms better. If left untreated, the condition can develop into a more serious disruptive behavior disorder and can leave your child at an increased risk for substance abuse and problems that may have life altering results.

Carolina Counseling Services — Pinehurst, NC, can be a source of significant help in treating your child with ODD. There is a right-fit therapist among our independently contracted counselors who can work with your child to address the challenges presented by ODD. At the same time, the professional can also empower you to respond to the unique demands of your child with high-intensity behavior. With help from CCS — Pinehurst, NC, your child can win the battle against oppositional defiance. Just make a call to request an appointment.


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Serving Areas: Carolina Counseling Services – Pinehurst, NC

Counties: Moore county, NC, Lee County, Hoke County, Chatham County

Areas: Pinehurst NC, West End NC, Taylortown NC, Seven Lakes NC, Eagle Springs NC, Jackson Springs NC, Foxfire NC, Candor NC, Norman NC, Ellerbe NC, Rockingham NC

Zip Codes: 27281, 27376, 28315, 28347, 28350, 28373, 28374, 28387, 28388, 28394

Kelly ErkenBrack, LCSW

Specializes in: (Ages 3+) Children, Teens, Adults, Couples and Families. Anxiety, Depression, Grief and Loss, Mood Disorders, Trauma, Adjustments and Life Transitions, ADHD, Behavioral Issues, Parenting, Relationship Concerns, Self Esteem
Insurance: BCBSTricare Prime/Select, Medicare and Cash
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Location: Pinehurst, NC

Robin Caswell, MSW, LCSW

Specializes in: (Ages 5+), Individuals, Adults, Anxiety, Depression, Grief, Loss, ADHD, ODD, Trauma/PTSD, LGBTQ, Self-Harm, Military Family Life, Mood Disorders, OCD, Phobias
Insurance: BCBS, Tricare, Medicare and Cash
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Location: Pinehurst, NC

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Fayetteville, NC 28311