Common ODD Symptoms Parents Need to Know

Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) in teens can bring with it a number of challenges that parents may struggle to adjust to. All children and teenagers show oppositional behavior every so often; that’s just part of learning and testing boundaries. ODD, however, can be something else entirely, with parents and other caregivers finding themselves at a loss as to what their next steps should be.

One of the first things that a parent can do is to educate him or herself about some of the most common symptoms of ODD. The more that you know about this disorder, the better position you will be in to work through the challenges that it can bring with it.

Top things to know about ODD

Being the parent of a child or teen with oppositional defiant disorder can feel isolating and overwhelming. Perhaps one of the most important things for the parent of a child with ODD to know is that they are not alone. An ODD diagnosis is also not something that parents need to be afraid of. In fact, getting a solid diagnosis is a positive step. It means that parents are now one step closer to getting their teens the help that they need.

With this foundation, you’ll be in a great spot to now help your teen move forward on the right path.

Learning the three main types of ODD

As is the case with many types of medical and mental health disorders, there is more than one type of ODD. Broadly speaking, there are three main types of ODD that it would be helpful to have an awareness of.

  •     Stimulus-dependent ODD
  •     Cognitive overload ODD 
  •     Fearful ODD.

When your child gets his diagnosis, you’ll likely be told which type he has. Your teen may have one or a combination of the types of ODD. Whatever the case may be, you know you’ll face levels of challenges as you and your teen attempt to navigate the diagnosis.

What triggers ODD in children and teens?

Most types of defiant and angry behavior seen in teens are the result of a deeper underlying issue. ODD behaviors are often a way for teens to mask the fear, pain, or other overwhelming feelings they have. 

Some of the root causes, or triggers, for children and teens with ODD include the following.

  •     Trauma. Traumatic stress can take a toll on every part of a teen’s life and can come out in several ways. 
  •     Anxiety. If a teen has an anxiety disorder, defiance and oppositional behavior may come out if a teen is looking for a way to avoid activities or situations that may trigger his anxiety. Teens who live with obsessive-compulsive disorder may lash out with anger due to their fear and other anxieties.

You may not be able to help avoid each of the situations that may trigger outbursts in your teen but working to address the underlying issues can go a long way to help your teen manage his anger, oppositional behavior, and negative attitude.

What if ODD goes untreated?

It can be difficult to bring others into family matters, even when your teen is struggling. This could extend to the idea of getting your teen into treatment programs that can help him to learn with ODD. The concern is that allowing behavioral disorders to go untreated can lead to serious lifelong struggles for your teen and everyone in your family. 

Remember that ODD can result in frequent angry and emotional outbursts. Your teen may also struggle with learning or focusing on tasks. He may be argumentative and refuse to follow rules. This is frustrating when he’s a child and teenager, but this can become much more serious as your teen reaches adulthood. 

This could include issues such as:

  •     Difficulty focusing in school, which can result in falling behind and possibly not graduating.
  •     Difficulty holding down a job, particularly if he gets into frequent arguments with coworkers.
  •     Challenges with other people in positions of authority, including law enforcement.
  •     Potentially finding himself in legal trouble directly related to his anger and lashing out.
  •     Problems with relationships and friendships due to the often volatile and unpredictable behavior he displays.

Not getting your teen the right type of treatment for ODD may leave him unable to cope with the various challenges that he may encounter as he tries to navigate through life. So, just what kind of treatment options are there for teens with ODD?

One of the first things that you should do is to ensure you are working with your teen to strengthen your relationship and connection. Many parts of ODD can be sourced from a fragile or difficult relationship with parents and other family members. Working with a family therapist is one of the best ways for you to work through ongoing family issues to strengthen your relationship. Having a strong attachment and trust in your relationship can help to de-escalate some of the issues your teen struggles with. Be sure that you also take time to recognize the positive behaviors and actions you see in your teen. 

Treatment options for teens with ODD can include:

  •     Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  •     Artistic therapy to help teens express themselves
  •     Adventure therapy
  •     Peer group therapy

Outpatient therapy can be very beneficial for teens who are struggling. Some may benefit from a different solution that may include an inpatient option. A residential treatment center can allow teens to get the focused therapies that they need, in a secure and supportive environment.

Does your teen have an ODD diagnosis? Are you looking for access to more resources? Reach out to HelpYourTeenNow to find out how we can help parents and teens navigate oppositional defiant disorder through treatment programs designed with ODD and teens in mind.

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