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Help! My Child is ODD

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ALPHABETICAL LIST OF COMMON PSYCHOLOGICAL DISTURBANCES

EVER FEEL THIS WAY?
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by Caryl Harvey

 

 

Daniel asks to play with his toy cars in his bedroom. Ardith tells him he can. At least it will get him out of her hair for a while. “But do not take them apart,” she cautions.

Within five minutes, the first set of tiny wheels hits the stair banister. A moment later, a metal car body bounces into the picture hung on the stair wall and sends it crashing to the floor.  

“Dan-iel!” Ardith yells. “Get down here.”

Daniel doesn’t come…right away. He waits for the third scream…the one immediately preceding his mom’s angry steps on the stairway.

Finally, he comes downstairs and plops onto the couch.

“You broke my picture,” Mom says.

“It wasn’t my fault. Someone didn’t hang it very well and it just fell off the wall.”

Ardith shakes her head.

“Now stay there until I say you can get up,” she says.

Daniel coughs. He coughs again…a protracted, gagging, fake cough.

“Daniel,” his mother cautions. “Stop.”

“Stop what?”

“The fake cough. Stop it.”

Daniel coughs a few more times.  He starts kicking his feet against the sofa legs.

Ardith wants to cry, but she doesn’t. That’s one of the first things they told her about dealing with Daniel: don’t react with emotion.

Daniel has O.D.D.—Oppositional Defiant Disorder.

What is it?

It’s a psychological disorder that looks a lot like ADHD.  Except in ADHD, kids create havoc with impulsive behavior. There is nothing impulsive about the way Daniel acts…it is purposeful. He intends to disrupt.

What causes it?

Not a lot is known about the causes of ODD. One theory is that kids don’t complete their psychological development. ODD problems seem to begin at ages 1-3. The thought is that some kids just stall out there…in the terrible twos.

 How do they know if a child has ODD?

There are some tests and symptoms. Generally, the therapists interview the child and the parents as well as other significant adults in the child’s life. They look at medical history. ODD is the most common childhood psychological disorder. Over 5% of children have it. And if a child’s parents are alcoholic and have had trouble with the law, the child’s chance of having ODD increases three fold to about 18%.

The main symptoms of ODD are:

      OFTEN loses his temper

      OFTEN argues with adults

      OFTEN defies the rules

      OFTEN annoys people on purpose

      OFTEN is easily annoyed himself

      OFTEN is angry

      OFTEN is easily annoyed

      OFTEN is spiteful and “gets even”

The key here is the word “often.” How often? It varies with the symptoms.

And ODD doesn’t usually appear without other disorders. That’s called “CO-MORBIDITY.” The most common side-kicks of ODD are ADHD and/or depression.

The first thing your doctor will do if your child is diagnosed with ODD is to determine which, if any, CO-MORBID condition accompanies the ODD. Then they will treat THAT condition. Sometimes that includes drugs like Ritalin or Strattera. Or your doctor may prescribe mood stabilizers.  

Although ODD can develop into a more serious disorder called “Conduct Disorder,” the good news is that most kids grow out of it.

But while they have it, they will drive their parents to the brink of insanity. And the bad thing is that these kids are so hard to deal with that NO ONE wants to be around them.

SO WHAT DO YOU DO IF YOUR KID HAS ODD?

The first thing to do is to

 ASSEMBLE THE TEAM.  Meet with teachers, parole officers, grandparents, aunts and uncles…any adult with whom the child has frequent contact.  Why?  Self-preservation. ODD kids divide and conquer. They are expert at getting adults to sympathize with them…at making themselves the victims. They are very convincing liars. Make sure everyone is on the same page with this child. At your meeting, discuss RULES.

        Decide on a FEW behaviors you CANNOT live with. Pick your battles here, because you can’t work on everything at once.

        Decide on the consequences. Make these appropriate to the individual child. And don’t use money or anything you buy to reinforce the rules. Use the stick and carrot approach, and make sanctions IMMEDIATE. (IF you do this, you may choose what we have for supper tonight. If you do not do this you can’t watch TV tonight.) Then make sure everybody on the team knows the target behaviors and the rules.

         Be consistent, both in the rules and the consequences.

         For older kids, you might even want to write out a contract and have them sign it.

        And, chances are, you’ll have to change things up every so often…the child will “learn the ropes” and your management plan will have to change to accommodate this.

TRY NOT TO REACT WITH EMOTION.  I remember an old “Star Trek” episode where alien creatures created fearful situations and then fed off the fear. Same idea here.

LIMIT TV and VIDEO GAMES. Current thought is no more than 1-2 hours of TV daily, and DEFINITELY not right before bedtime.

PRACTICE SELF-CARE   Get babysitters (probably people who don’t know your kid, right?) and GO OUT once in a while.  Find a friend to whine to. THIS IS IMPORTANT. Then whine.  Eat right, get rest and exercise. Taking care of a child with ODD is NOT a piece of cake.

HAVE A SAFETY PLAN IN PLACE IN CASE YOU JUST CAN’T TAKE “ONE MORE MOMENT.”  Have someone you can call to come get the child, or stay with the child while you get away for a short time.

DO STRETCHING EXERCISES DAILY.  

Why? So you can give yourself a daily PAT ON THE BACK. You’re doing a great job. You deserve it.

 

HERE ARE SOME WEBSITES PARENTS MIGHT FIND USEFUL: PLACES TO WHINE
 
 
THESE ARE SUPPORT GROUPS:
 
 
 
THIS IS AN INFORMATIONAL WEBSITE: