Just Plain Ol’ Boyhood or Oppositional Defiant Disorder?

The old expression “Boys will be boys,” describes types of behavior that may not be appreciated by parents (or sisters). These behaviors, though typically unwelcomed, are rather benign in cause and effect.

For instance, a typical boy might think it’s funny to put a frog in his sister’s bed. Two young boys might decide their older cousin’s wedding is the perfect place to show everyone their underwear.

Typical boyhood behavior can generally be described as silly, energetic, curious, and imaginative.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) is something entirely different and can be characterized by negative, defiant, disobedient and often hostile behavior toward adults and authority figures. In order for a child to be diagnosed with ODD, they must display specific behaviors for at least a period of 6 months.

Symptoms/Behaviors of ODD

ODD is characterized by the frequent occurrence of at least four of the following behaviors:

  • Losing temper often
  • Arguing with adults and authority figures
  • Not following rules intentionally
  • Deliberately annoying others
  • Being easily annoyed by others
  • Blaming others for mistake and misbehavior
  • Being angry and resentful or spiteful and vindictive

While all children can display some form of disobedience during childhood, ODD’s defiant behaviors are persistently expressed. Persistent stubbornness or an unwillingness to compromise, testing limits, arguing and ignoring orders or rules set by adults are big red flags a child may have ODD.

Treating ODD

Treating ODD typically involves several types of psychotherapy, as well as training for children and parents. Treatments may last several months or longer.

The cornerstones of treatment for ODD usually include:

Parent Training

A therapist will help parents develop skills that are less frustrating and more positive for children and parents. Sometimes session will be conducted just with parents and other times the child will participate in the training as well.

Parent-child Interaction Therapy (PCIT)

In PCIT session, therapists coach parents as they interact with their children. The therapist might sit behind a one-way mirror and, via and earpiece audio device, coach parents through strategies that reinforce positive behavior in the child. PCIT helps to improve parent-child relationships while decreasing behavioral problems.

Family Therapy

Family therapy can be highly-effective at improving communication and relationships between family members. Therapists ensure that all members of the family are heard and validated during sessions.

Cognitive Problem-Solving Training

This type of therapy focuses on helping children identify and change thought patterns that lead to unwanted behaviors.

Social Skills Training

Your child may benefit from one-on-one therapy that will guide him to adopt more positive life skills.

If you would like to talk with someone, or would like to have your child assessed for ODD, please contact us today. We would be happy to speak with you about how we may be able to help.

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