"Have a Defiant Child Problem?"
Get Your Child to Behave
Simple Step-by-Step Action Plan
Oppositional Defiant Disorder:
By James Lehman, MSW
The War at Home
A day with a child who has Oppositional Defiant
Disorder is a series of battles in an undeclared
war. It starts when they wake up, continues at
breakfast, intensifies when they have to get
dressed, and doesn't end until they fight
with you over bedtime.
Kids with ODD lose their temper quickly
and often. They're easily annoyed and frustrated
by other people, resentful and hostile with
adults, bossy and pushy with other kids. They blame
everyone else for their difficulties and make excuses
for their inability to cope. They gravitate toward
negative peers and tend to be the most sulking and
angry of adolescents.
Unrestricted free time is a breeding ground for
aggressive behavior for these children. In an
unstructured environment, they become annoying,
threatening or destructive to kids around them
and to adult authority figures. They will use this
time to deliberately antagonize anyone they see as
As a parent, you can't satisfy a child with ODD,
since their thinking is irrational. They clamor for
your attention and then tell you to leave them alone.
The sad truth is, kids with ODD are not very likable.
Parents often feel guilty about the fact that they
love their kids, but don't like being around them.
Parents get blamed for their child's oppositional
behavior and tend to heap even more blame on themselves.
The parent of a child with ODD often feels incompetent
and isolated. They live with the self-imposed shame
that other people think they're bad parents, and
the humiliation grows larger as their world gets smaller.
Left untreated, Oppositional Defiant Disorder can
lead to Conduct Disorder, a more serious pathology
that is a precursor for anti-social behavior and criminality.
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How to Stop the War and Restore Peace at Home
Because they lack the tools to deal with oppositional defiance,
parents generally respond to this behavior with a range of
responses that includes negotiating, bargaining, giving in,
threatening and screaming. The problem is when you scream,
argue or negotiate, you are giving your child's defiance
even more power.
Everyone from the school psychologist to your mother-in-law
will tell you what this child needs is structure. But no
one really shows you what kind of structure and how to
put it in place. It's not as simple as giving the child
a time out. A child with ODD won't use the time out to
change his thinking. He'll use it to plot revenge.
Parents need to change their parenting style and method
of operation with the child.
Parents dealing with ODD need a powerful mix of
determination and strength. You can have a child with
ODD and a peaceful home. The key is to decide: Are you
going to change the world for your child or teach him
to cope with it? It's not practical or effective to try
to change the world for your kid. But by setting limits
consistently, concisely and clearly, you will teach your
child to cope with the world and succeed in it.
- Children with ODD need structure with a
therapeutic component: learning how to develop problem-solving
skills. Your child becomes oppositional when he can't
figure out how to solve problems. The problem can be
anything from not wanting to get up in the morning to
not wanting to do homework. When he learns a simple way
to solve the problem, the defiance subsides.
- The focus of treatment should be on compliance and
coping skills, not on self-esteem or personality. ODD
is not a self-esteem issue; it's a problem solving issue.
Kids get self-esteem by doing things that are hard for
them. Children with ODD need a lot of strong praise and
support as well as realistic rewards. They should be praised
for doing things that are challenging to them. Don't create
false situations for which to praise them to make them
- Avoid senseless power struggles.
Pick your battles with your child carefully and win the
ones you pick. Many times you can win fights with this
child by not arguing back. When you argue, his resistance
gets stronger. Instead of arguing, set limits in a
businesslike way and expect compliance.
- Have a plan for managing your child's behavior. When
you're going to the mall, know what you'll do when he
acts out in the car. Have a plan you'll use if he throws
a tantrum in the store. And be willing to follow through
on the plan until the child learns defiance doesn't get
him what he wants.
For three decades, behavioral therapist James Lehman, MSW,
has worked with troubled teens and children with behavior
problems. He has developed a practical, real-life
teaches them how to solve social problems without hiding
behind a facade of defiant, disrespectful, or obnoxious
behavior. He has taught his approach to parents,
teachers, state agencies and treatment centers in private
practice and now through
The Total Transformation Program -- a comprehensive step-by-step, multi-media program
that makes learning James' techniques remarkably easy
and helps you change your child's behavior.
Anthony Kane, MD
ADD ADHD Advances
"If Oppositional Defiant Disorder is an Issue in Your Home,
it is Definitely Worth Your While
to Check This Out."
Oppositional Defiant Disorder Child Behavior Help
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