Oppositional defiant disorder
All children are oppositional from time to time. They talk back, disobey, ask “why?”, and argue with or ignore adults. This is developmentally appropriate and part of testing limits and learning.
However, when a child’s oppositional behavior seems more frequent or severe than other children of the same age, or if the behavior starts to interfere with the child’s friendships, school performance, or family relationships, and has lasted for at least six months, it is no longer considered developmentally appropriate.
Oppositional defiant disorder behaviors can include:
- Losing his temper
- Arguing with adults
- Actively defies adults’ requests or rules
- Deliberately annoys people
- Blames others for her mistakes or misbehavior
- Easily annoyed by others
- Appears angry and resentful
- Appears spiteful and vindictive
Treatment and parenting approach
The first step is to see the child’s pediatrician or primary care provider. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry suggests that a treatment plan be created to best treat the needs of each individual child.
Treatment that focuses on helping parents and caregivers learn skills for parenting and managing has been effective in reducing disruptive behavior in children with oppositional defiant disorder. These treatment approaches include education for the parents and behavioral approaches that reinforce positive behavior and provide consequences for negative behavior.
It is important in oppositional defiant disorder that parenting be consistent, clear, and loving. Limit-setting is important. However, treatment or parenting approaches that try to shock or scare children and teens are not effective and may be harmful.
When parents and teachers recognize oppositional defiant disorder behaviors in children, there are steps they can take to help. Parents can learn skills for parenting and managing their children’s behavior. Classroom teachers can employ structured behavioral reinforcement routines in their classrooms.