3 Common Misunderstandings About Kids With ODD

3 common misunderstandings about ODD


Up to 40% of children with ADHD also develop oppositional defiant disorder. Source

For much of the last couple years, I thought I was doing a lousy job as a parent. I also thought that I had given my child ADHD. (I did, but I don’t feel that guilty about it anymore.)

Strategies that work with regular kids don’t work with ODD kids.

No matter how calm your voice is, or how carefully chosen your words, you still get mouthy, defiant responses.

Trust me, I know how hard it is.  And I also know how it makes you doubt yourself.

I don’t have a fool-proof solution, but I do have some information.

ODD is hard for parents and caregivers to live with, you have to be willing to work a little harder in order to manage it well.

3 Common Misunderstandings About ODD


The Behavior is aimed at you

According to ADDitude magazine, many children are defiant by default. When an adult talks to them their automatic response is much like flight or flight, they immediately push back.

You could ask them if they want ice cream, and they might shout back, “NO!”  Not because they don’t want ice cream but because that is their default answer.

Oppositional and defiant behavior is rarely personal. It’s not about you at all. It’s about the way their brains are wired.

The behavior is intentional

There is no forethought involved with defiant behavior.

There is often a pattern of behavior, but a pattern is not the same as premeditation.

Most of the time children who have ODD also have ADHD, so their behavior is a reflection of their brain chemistry.

It’s so easy to listen to your child and think to yourself, “he can control this.”

In the heat of the moment, the hurtful words and behavior FEEL so intentional.

But it’s not. If there is one thing I have figured out, it is that my son cannot control some of his most unpleasant behaviors. And often, he is ashamed of his behavior after the fact.

Shame is often displayed at anger. Think about that for a minute. It makes sense.

Oppositional Children Need Consequences

I am absolutely not an expert in child/adolescent psychology. But I do know that if you confront a young person with ODD they are going to come right back at you.

Confrontation can mean many different things, from verbal reprimand to outright punishment.

Traditional consequences simply don’t work with these children. I have tried:

  • -Loss of television privileges.
  • -Sending him to his room.
  • -Yelling as loud as he does.
  • -Threatening to take away various toys.
  • -Canceling plans for a day trip.

None of this worked. In fact, it escalated my child to the point where he couldn’t calm himself down and the meltdown went on for hours.

Kids should not be told their behavior is appropriate when it is obviously not. But if you go all authoritarian parent on them, things will go downhill fast.

I like to consider myself authoritative, so I try to collaborate.

Collaboration doesn’t work sometimes.

Things that do work:

-Parent Training. Check out my affiliate link to ImpactADHD, their services are amazing and affordable!

-Check out Anxious Toddlers. Natasha has two facebook groups, and parenting classes, too!

-Ignore it. Sometimes when my son is being particularly rude I will ignore him or leave the room. If I turn off the television and he starts screaming, I ignore it. Either way, my point is made.

-Choose your battles. Not every fight needs to be your Bunker Hill.

-Make sure your child feels heard. Tell him/her that you hear them and you are empathetic.

-Respect the feelings, do not belittle. You would be surprised how much emotional pain and anxiety is sometimes behind all the attitude.

More resources on children with ADHD and ODD:

Parenting a defiant ADHD Child via ADDitude

Oppositional Defiant Disorder; What is it? via Child Mind Institute

Recommended Reading for parents of kids with ODD:

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