by Dr. Shanthi Thomas
Are you familiar with children or teenagers who display disobedient and defiant behaviour? Of course all children are defiant and disobedient some time, but if a child displays such behaviour most of the time, it could be a case of Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Children and teenagers affected by this disorder display irritable, angry, hostile, argumentative and vindictive behaviour frequently. Unfortunately, it is one of the common behavioral disorders found in children and teenagers. The good news is that by 18 years of age, a lot of children would have outgrown this disorder. However, while it is present, it is nothing less than a nightmare for parents and teachers to handle.
At least four of the following symptoms are present in a child or teenager with Oppositional Defiant Disorder.
As can be expected, most teenagers and children with Oppositional Defiant Disorder suffer from impairments in academic, social or occupational functioning. Low self-esteem and difficulty maintaining relationships and friendships are also commonly observed symptoms.
Though many researchers suggest a strong genetic component in the incidence of Oppositional Defiance Disorder, the general consensus is that it is caused by a combination of biological, psychological and social factors. A lot of children with ODD come from families with a history of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), mood disorders such as Bipolar Disorder or Depression, and substance abuse. Some environmental factors such as lack of parental supervision, lack of structure in day-to-day activities, inconsistency in disciplinary practices, and exposure to violence and abuse, have also been cited as possible causes of ODD. Adopted children and children of divorced parents are seen to be at a higher risk of having this disorder.
Treatment for ODD involves family-based interventions as well as psychotherapy and training for the child and parents. Typically the treatment lasts several months or a couple of years. Medications are used for ODD if it coexists with other disorders such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), anxiety or depression. As such, there is no medicine approved for use to treat ODD.
The most important and effective treatment for ODD consists of:
Even if the family is not in a position to seek therapy, there are certain steps that the parents can take to lessen the ODD behaviors exhibited by the child, as given below.
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