It’s a nightmare.
Your child, the light of your life, the person you love more than anything in the entire world has become someone you don’t recognize, and honestly can’t even stand to be around.
Your once precious baby has developed a persistent pattern of arguing, talking back, being disrespectful, “blowing up” or getting disproportionately angry at every little thing you say and do, refusing to follow even simple directions or rules, blaming everyone but themselves for THEIR bad behavior…and it seems like your child is doing all this JUST to spite you.
And it’s giving you some serious headaches.
These behaviors may be causing significant stress at home, work, or in other social settings.
Maybe you have to walk on eggshells around your kid for fear of setting them off. Maybe it’s causing difficulties with your spouse or partner because your home has turned into a war-zone over discipline.
Maybe you’re feeling like a failure because the strategies you’re using to motivate or discipline your kid just aren’t working and you flew off the handle or became exhausted and gave up.
Perhaps you’re suffering at work because you’re constantly having to go to your child’s school or daycare because they are just not able to pull it together and make it through the day without some sort of episode warranting your immediate attention.
They are fighting with teachers, refusing to complete school work or participate in activities, and causing serious disruptions in the classroom. You can’t even take your child out to eat, to the grocery store, or on a playdate with other children because you know that ultimately there will be a fight or a tantrum, and you will have to address these behaviors in the worst possible environment…public.
The absolute worst part is that you have to watch as your child is struggling unsuccessfully with these big emotions and it is Breaking. Your. Heart.
When your child is experiencing these kinds of difficulties, it can bring about many different emotions for caregivers including shame, guilt, frustration, hopelessness, and even anger.
I see you, Mom, Dad, Grandma.
If this sounds like your child or your struggle, you may be dealing with something more severe than typical, age-appropriate testing of limits or “just being a kid”. Your child may have Oppositional Defiant Disorder.
Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) is defined by the American Psychiatric Association as a pattern of behavior lasting at least 6 months that includes these symptoms:
- Often loses temper
- Is often touchy or easily annoyed
- Is often angry and resentful
- Often argues with authority figures or adults
- Often actively defies or refuses to comply with rules and requests
- Often deliberately annoys others
- Often blames others for his or her mistakes or misbehavior
- Has been spiteful or vindictive at least twice within the past 6 months.
A quick google search can tell you that ODD is quite common, and that there are more than 3 million cases diagnosed each year.
Oppositional Defiant Disorder can affect children from any background and usually appears as children reach late preschool or early school age.
As difficult as ODD is for caregivers to manage, it is even more difficult for the child who is experiencing these symptoms.
Children with Oppositional Defiant Disorder often have difficulty regulating their emotions, have difficulty with school performance, social issues, poor self-esteem, and are at an increased risk for other mental health conditions including anxiety, depression, ADHD, and substance abuse, and as many as 68% of kids with ODD will exhibit a lifelong struggle with impulse control.
However, you are not alone and there is hope! Early treatment and intervention can help… find out more in our next post!