Children Conduct Disorder Oppositional Defiant Disorder ODD
Conduct disorder/ ODD is an exhausting disorder affecting children, or the entire family when a child with the disorder behaves in a manner resembling the terrible two’s magnified by 50.
A child who is so out of control even Nanny 911 episodes appear tame. It feels as if something went so incredibly wrong that a child acts out in ways that will make a parent fear they are raising the next serial killer. Sure, that may sound a bit dramatic but this is how it is when living with a child diagnosed with Conduct disorder / Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD).
I have a son who had Oppositional defiant disorder. I had never heard of it until a school psychologist who had watched and worked with my son for four years finally figured it out. Thankfully, I have a wonderful supportive husband by my side helping me change my son’s behavior from out of control to my sweet charming little man who has learned so much in four very long and difficult years.
If it weren’t for this man coming into our lives I shudder to think where we would be today. I consider my son to be completely healed, although our regiment is and will continue to be quite strict and consistent as it is what he needs. It took my new husband, a team of teachers, tutors, counselors, and doctors to help my son along his path to finding himself somewhere inside that monster that was showing his ugly face every day.
I had lost hope and my energy was depleted so it took my new husband stepping in and basically taking over control to start keeping my son in line, by being incredibly consistent and strict. That’s when I started seeing a difference. I also noticed a change when I removed preservatives and excess sugars from my sons’ diet. With these changes apparent, my hope was restored and we were on our way to finding my son again.
In researching ODD here is what I learned: The term disorder is a misnomer because it is not a disorder but instead a learned behavior, or likely a combination of a child’s home environment and inherited factors including:
- Ineffective, Inconsistent and/or harsh discipline
- Lack of supervision, neglect or abuse
- Limitations or developmental delays in a child’s ability to process their thoughts and feelings
Being that Oppositional defiant disorder is a learned behavior it can also be unlearned or reversed with a strict and consistent routine. There are no medications to treat ODD; however, many times a child will have other related mental health issues that are successfully treated with medication.
Some of the mental health issues often times occurring with ODD are:
- Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
A child with ODD will display symptoms such as an extremely strong will, disrespect and opposition to adults or people in authority positions, defiance in almost any situation, temper tantrums disproportionate to the child’s age, argumentativeness, lying, anger, and resentment. It is not unusual for a child to pick a fight and as soon as an exhausted adult gives in and tells the child, “ok! Yes, you’re right the sky is green.” The child will then argue, “No it isn’t, its blue”. This type of behavior, over and over, leaves parents feeling overwhelmed, exhausted and feeling out of control themselves.
Children with ODD will struggle in school and in making and/or keeping friends. It appears a child with Oppositional defiant disorder thrives on deliberately annoying other people. They refuse to take responsibility, blaming others for their mistakes or misbehavior; they are easily annoyed and act with aggression toward peers and adults. They often have trouble academically.
Parents with a child suffering from ODD should seek support and help from a professional familiar with this disorder as many times it is misdiagnosed, and left untreated ODD can, and most likely will, progress to the more serious Conduct disorder, substance abuse and severe delinquency.
Conduct disorder commonly occurs when ODD is left untreated. The child will most likely begin to violate more serious rules like running away from home or skipping school. Their pattern of misbehavior will usually progress to more aggressive behavior toward people and or animals. Children may initiate bullying and fighting, or animal cruelty. They may become disrespectful of others’ property by stealing or causing damage by vandalism or arson.
Children afflicted with ODD or Conduct disorder will most likely have trouble feeling empathy and may misread social queues or miss them altogether. He may misinterpret others behavior as hostile or aggressive leading him to act out in response to the aggression with aggression in return.
Living with a child with either Conduct disorder or ODD is exhausting and sometimes heartbreaking. Parents should get help, avoid power struggles, and remain positive with their child. Their child requires an extremely strict routine, consistency and positive reinforcement as well as a happy and refreshed parent who has confidence in themselves. The child will thrive in an environment which is healthy and did I mention consistent, consistent, consistent? I cannot emphasize that word enough.
Parents and children will benefit from parental training. Parents and siblings should have patience as the treatment will include the whole family. When one child is disruptive, the entire family feels the effects and everyone suffers the consequences to a degree. The upside to this “disorder” is that it is within a parent’s control to change their child’s behavior and their life.
The incredible part is, with patience, determination, and consistent parenting you can change your child’s behavior. Once my son overcame his defiant behavior it was hard to imagine that my sweet child was once a monster and I sometimes wonder if exaggerated the whole thing. Then a see a video and I’m reminded of how horrific our lives were and realize I was in such a stupor because it was my only way to cope with how out of control my home was.
I know now it was the worst way to handle our situation and it made my sons condition so much worse. The upside is, now that we’ve overcome this, I know I can overcome anything. My best advice is that its ok... no, it’s a very good idea to ask for help!
note from the editorial staff: ODD explained and descriped form a "first-hand"-mother is far better and reliable than from any theoretical book or course. it's just life nothing else but the real one.