ADHD Symptoms: Managing Your Child’s Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD)

Updated on April 9, 2018
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I'm a mother of two children with ADHD from Indianapolis, Indiana.

ADHD Symptoms: Managing Your Child’s Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD)

A child with Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD) can be described as being aggressive, impulsive, and highly irritable. Did you know that people diagnosed with ADHD are up to 11 times more likely to also be diagnosed with Oppositional Defiance Disorder? Managing your child’s ODD along with his other ADHD symptoms can seem impossible at times.

In my experience with my children, it seems this disorder compels them to do EXACTLY what they know will annoy or frustrate another person. At times they seem to enjoy this, to the point where they look to be smiling slightly in delight. If your child has ODD, I’m sure similar scenarios have played out in your home. We all love our children no matter what. However, coping and managing these co-morbid ADHD symptoms will not only frustrate us as parents but can also be hurtful and cause dysfunction in the family dynamic.

What can we do? In my experience, when my children are being defiant, it’s mostly because they are trying to solicit a reaction or gain attention, even if that attention is not positive. Here are some ways I’ve learned to manage defiant behavior with my children. Of course, all children are different and these approaches may not work for your children. However, if you are struggling, they may be worth a try.

Ignore the Behavior

Whenever it is possible, just ignore the behavior. If they move toward you, don’t look at them. You may verbally explain in a short sentence why you are ignoring them (“I will not acknowledge you until you change your behavior”). However, don’t give any eye contact. Act as if you are blind and deaf. I’ve often used this approach with my son. When he became old enough to read, I began writing the brief sentence in a short note, as I know feelings or reactions can be heard in your voice.

Talk to Your Child

When your child has resolved to abandon the defiant behavior, ask them to explain why. The most likely answer is going to be, “I don’t know,” but that’s OK. The purpose of the question is to make your child think about how they have behaved. If they are age appropriate, dig deeper. Ask them what did they intend to accomplish? Begin a conversation with them regarding their previous behavior. During your discussion, brainstorm ideas with your child on more positive approaches to a similar situation that may happen in the future.

Give Them Time to Be Alone

This is as simple as sending him to his room. Remind your child that their behavior will have to change prior to coming back. I know this seems pretty basic, however, the purpose is to deny them receiving a reaction from anyone, which is what they may be seeking. Remember, when you tell them to go to their room, do not yell and try to speak as monotone as you can.

I know some of you are thinking, “What if they refuse to go?” Simply leave them where they stand; everyone must leave the room, even the dog!

Photo by Angelina Litvin on Unsplash
Photo by Angelina Litvin on Unsplash

Writing Exercise

When your child begins showing defiant behavior make him write a sentence multiple times. Make sure the sentence is positive. When my son was in 3rd grade, if he got into trouble at school, I made him write, “I am a good kid and I make good choices” 25 times. You might be wondering, if he was being defiant, how did you get him to write the sentences? My guess is, he was getting attention or a reaction. However, this was not the reaction he wanted.

Take-Home Thoughts

As parents raising children with ADHD, our journey is often fraught with strife, but we can’t give up! We must hold steadfast, teaching our children to successfully navigate life through constant coaching. Remember, as parents, we are our child’s biggest advocate and at times “tough love” is appropriate. If we don’t correct our children and show them more appropriate ways to cope, then who will? The answer is no one!

Our hope is to help extinguish these unwanted behaviors while they are children, still learning who they are. We want to cherish our children and create happy childhood memories for years to come, instilling positivity and confidence. Through these “bumps in the road”, let’s not forget to recognize and reward our child’s many positive attributes and behaviors. Lastly, we must make sure our children understand that our actions are motivated by our unbreakable love for them and our will to lead them to be the best person they can be.

If you are willing to share some of your experiences, please leave a comment. I love to hear from my readers.

ADHD Symptoms: ODD

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