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Opposition Defiant Disorder, ODD and ADHD: The Link


ODD is a behavioral disorder that is defined by chronic aggressive behavior, frequent explosive outbursts, a tendency to ignore requests from family or authority figures, and purposely irritate others.


About half of preschoolers who have been diagnosed with ODD outgrow the problem by age 8, but if left untreated, it can evolve into conduct disorder and more serious behavioral problems.


Interesting fact, 40 percent of children with ADHD can also develop oppositional defiant

disorder. Some experts suggest that ODD and ADHD may be linked together because of

impulsivity. Carol Brady, Ph.D., a child psychologist says, “Many kids with ADHD who are

diagnosed with ODD are showing oppositional characteristics by default… They misbehave not because they’re intentionally oppositional, but because they can’t control their impulses.”


Other experts suggest kids who exhibit ODD behaviors are trying to cope with the frustration and emotional pain that is associated with ADHD.


How do we treat ADHD and ODD?


It’s important to recognize your child has ADHD and seek professional help from your family

doctor. Your doctor may suggest putting your child on a regimen of medication, which in some cases, can also help to reduce ODD symptoms.


I personally highly recommend seeking help in behavioral modification techniques to help

manage your child’s condition. Early intervention and the proper behavioral techniques will

help your child to be successful at home and school.


In severe cases, a child may need to see a child psychologist which the psychologist may also screen your child for anxiety, mood disorder, borderline personality disorder, BPD, all of which could cause ODD.


How to parent a child with ODD and ADHD


It is recommended parents take parenting courses that teach parents the skills how to react to their child’s behavior. Proven research has shown when parents use positive parenting skills and strategies can reduce the signs of ODD in the child. It may seem counterintuitive, but role modeling, teaching, and following through with your child, can help teach children to self-regulate.


Keep in mind when starting a parent management behavior program:


1. Accentuate the positive: Positive reinforcement is the magic key when starting a

parent behavior management program.


Yelling, spanking, or sending your child to their bedroom worsens your child’s

behavior by telling them they are bad, or you’re not there for them when they

are having a hard time self-regulating their big emotions.


Instead, teach through example and give positive feedback.


Learn how a child’s brains react to positive feedback rather than negative.

What happens to the brain when a child is flipping their lid? How do parents

deal with a child who is argumentative?


2. Warmth and an exciting feeling towards your child:


Acknowledge your child with non-verbal and verbal gestures. For example, use

body language such as thumbs up or a gentle smile projecting they are

awesome little people, or you might say, “It was wonderful the way you played

quietly when I was on the phone.”


Taylor rewards and disciplines to meet your child’s specific abilities and needs.

Make sure the rewards or discipline are directly related to the behavior. Keep

in mind, discipline doesn’t mean taking away their game for weeks or sending

them to their room until they apologize.


Most importantly, consistency in the way you talk and treat your child, set

rules, and convey expectations is the key to changing your child’s behavior.


Children with ODD are most comfortable when they are in constant conflict with others. When you start to argue with them, you are playing into their hands. They throw out the bait and a parent reacts to it until things get out of control.

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