Treatment Of Oppositional Defiant Disorder
If you can identify the above symptoms in your child from over a period of 6 months, then it is likely that they are suffering from ODD. Hence, it is imperative that you seek professional help and consult a child’s pediatrician, primary care doctor, child psychiatrist, or child psychologist about their disruptive behavior problems. Early intervention is important as teens and adults with ODD can develop depression, substance abuse, and suicidality, when left untreated. Treatment typically depends on the patient’s age, the severity of symptoms, comorbidity, and health. A doctor or therapist may recommend the following for effective treatment –
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Parent management training (PMT)
- Family therapy
- Peer group therapy
- Parent-child interaction therapy (PCIT)
- Anger management skills
- Problem-solving skills
- Impulse control skills
- Communication skills
Medications are usually not prescribed for the treatment of ODD, but certain medicines can help relieve symptoms associated with co-occurring disorders, like anxiety, depression, ADHD, etc. Effective medical treatment along with positive parenting techniques can prove to be highly helpful in improving your child or teen’s behavior and prevent the symptoms from worsening.
How To Deal With Oppositional Defiant Disorder
Apart from seeking medical help, here are a few beneficial parenting strategies and techniques that can help you manage their symptoms and help them recover in the long run –
1. Follow the doctor’s instructions
Ensure that your child receives the right treatment, attends therapy sessions, and takes medications as prescribed so that the symptoms of ODD and comorbid conditions can be managed. Also, make sure to keep all appointments with the licensed mental health professional to prioritize their treatment. You should actively participate in family therapy as required.
2. Be calm and composed in your reactions
Remain calm when communicating with a defiant child as kids with ODD often expect to engage their parents in heated arguments. Refrain yourself from reacting negatively and using minimal words explain what exactly you need from them as a parent or teacher. If they continue arguing, withdraw yourself from the conversation. By engaging in the conversation longer than you should, you will transfer the control to your child.
3. Have a well-established structure
It is important that you create an organized environment at home with clear rules and priorities. Establish clear rules and boundaries that cannot be negotiated with. However, make sure that you don’t force a long list of rules that don’t make sense to your child. The rules and boundaries should be targeted at improving your child’s behavior and not punishing them. So make sure the rules are practical and realistic. You also need to determine the consequences of not following the rules beforehand. In case your child breaks a rule and faces the consequences, do not linger on it. Move on and help your child to move on. The objective is to help them learn, not punish them.
4. Make sure your child is properly cared for
You should also ensure that your child is well-fed and well-rested. Make sure that they strictly follow their bedtimes and get at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night, eat nutritious healthy food, don’t skip meals or waste food either. An organized, healthy lifestyle can greatly help a kid with oppositional defiant disorder.
5. Use positive reinforcement
Reinforcement can undoubtedly prove to be highly beneficial with the oppositional defiant disorder in children. Although both negative & positive reinforcement can help in behavior modification, positive reinforcement is more helpful. This is why, when dealing with an ODD child, a parent must focus more on positive reinforcements than negative reinforcements. According to a 2021 study, positive reinforcement refers to encouraging or modifying someone’s behavior through rewards. If your child enjoys certain activities or gifts, then you can use such rewards to encourage them to engage in desired behaviors. It can even motivate the child to continue the behavior. The study adds “Positive reinforcement works exceedingly better and faster than punishment.”
6. Offer options and choices
Defiant children like to be in charge of the situation and strongly dislike authority figures. When a parent, caregiver, or teacher provides choices, they get the illusion of control which can help to improve their negative behavior and attitude. However, make sure to offer them a limited number of options to choose from. Typically, 2 or 3 choices can help them make the best decisions and experience a significant sense of control.