Parents are often heard lamenting the approach of their child’s teen years, as they envision sullen, defiant children who are attempting to find their own identities and separate themselves from their parents. Undoubtedly, a certain level of defiance is to be expected from children, particularly during these formative years. However, there are instances in which parents find their teen’s behavior to be so extreme that they wonder if the line of developmentally normal rebellion has been crossed. Determining whether or not a child’s behavior is cause for deeper investigation with a medical professional is never easy, but there are some signs that parents can watch for.
What is Oppositional Defiant Disorder?
Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) is a mental health disorder in which children exhibit excessive anger, irritability, vindictiveness, and defiance in a frequent and persistent pattern. Suffering from ODD not only makes life more difficult for the authority figures in a child’s life, it can also have some lasting and severe consequences for the child themselves. Those with ODD are more likely to perform poorly in school, struggle to maintain relationships, abuse substances, and have suicidal thoughts or actions.
ODD vs. Normal Behavior
Establishing independence from parents and transitioning from adolescence into becoming a self-sufficient adult requires a certain level of rebellion and questioning of authority. That being said, a teen should still be able to exhibit a willingness to compromise to some degree in order to resolve conflict. When this is not the case, and a child is persistently and unrelentingly defiant and disrespectful, parents should seek the opinion of a board-certified psychiatrist who will attempt to better understand factors such as:
- Irritability – Easily irritated or angered by others and seems frequently resentful
- Defiance – Argues frequently with those in a position of authority and disobeys their instructions.
- Lack of Accountability – Often blames others for their own actions
- Vindictiveness – Seems incredibly spiteful or vindictive and has exhibited the behavior at least twice within the past six months
These symptoms can be deemed mild, moderate or severe, and the recommended course of treatment may depend on the level of severity. Co-existing conditions such as ADHD, depression, or anxiety may also influence the best way to help a child with ODD. In many cases, the best results stem from a combination of therapy and medication with high levels of parent involvement.
If you believe that your child may be suffering from ODD, it is best to see a child psychiatrist for an evaluation and possible diagnosis. In Baton Rouge, Dr. Ashley Albarado treats young patients suffering from a range of disorders, including ODD. Contact Psychiatry Associates of Baton Rouge to request an appointment.