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Raising a Child with ODD

Child ODD counseling at Carolina Counseling Services North Fayetteville Office Fayetteville NC, childhood ODD, therapy for children with ODD in Fayetteville NC

Raising a Child with ODD


It is not unusual for children, especially those from aged two until early adolescence, to be disobedient and defiant every now and then. Expressing resistance is a natural part of their development process, thus it is considered typical for them to argue, talk back and “reason out” to their parents, teachers, and other adults.

If you notice that your child’s persisting hostility, uncooperativeness, and defiance is disproportionate to what is predictable for his or her age, it may be more than just “bad” behavior. Your child may have a type of behavior disorder called oppositional defiant disorder (ODD). This is a serious concern that needs immediate treatment from a qualified professional.


What is ODD?

The DSM5 Diagnostics Criteria defines Oppositional Defiant Behavior (ODD) as a condition characterized by an ongoing pattern of an angry or irritable mood, defiant/argumentative behavior, and vindictiveness toward peers and authority figures exhibited for at least six months. It is one of a group of behavioral disorders called disruptive behavior disorders (DBD) because children with the disorders tend to disrupt those around them.

The range of estimates suggests that 2 to 16 percent of children and teens have ODD. The disorder is more common in younger boys, but it equally occurs in boys and girls during school-age and adolescence. Although seemingly affecting those in a lower socioeconomic level, ODD develops in children of all backgrounds. ODD children have high rates of subsequently developing other conduct disorders, including Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).


What are the possible causes?

No single overwhelming cause is identified to produce ODD. There are no clues yet as to the condition’s exact cause.  The risk factors are not well understood, but three dimensions are known to contribute:


  • Biological: Children from a family with a history of behavioral disorders are more susceptible to developing ODD. Parents with a drinking or substance abuse problem are more likely to have children born with a difficult child temperament and impairment in the part of the brain responsible for reasoning and judgment. Exposure to toxins and poor nutrition are also factors that lower children’s cortisol level, causing them to be easily frustrated and irritated.


  • Behavioral: Abusive or negligent parenting is highly correlated to oppositional and aggressive child behavior. Children whose parents respond poorly to their different temperaments have difficulty with attachment and cannot act appropriately in social settings.


  • Social: External stress factors, such as family instability, a chaotic home environment and ineffective parenting strategies can traumatize children, leading to the development and severity of ODD.


What’s the relationship between ODD and ADHD?

In addition, know that it could be linked to ADHD or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. According to ADDitude, about 40 percent of ADHD children also have ODD. Children who have both conditions may exhibit consistent anger, viciousness, and unsettling behaviors toward parents, mentors and other authority figures.

There are expert suggestions that these behaviors can be due to ADHD-related impulsivity. These manifestations may also be a way for ODD-ADHD children to work through their frustrations and emotional anguish. This means that the manifestations could be a mechanism for a child to face their internal turmoil and confusion. Thus, misbehavior may not be intentional; it happens because they have little power over their reactions and impulses. If the parent understands the link between ODD and ADHD, raising a child with the condition/s can be possible, if not easier. 

It is important to note here that parental empowerment through ODD management training can be a productive way to help children with ODD. Often, these children will respond well when they have a calm parent for a role model, which eases the process of ODD management training. Imitating their parents, a child can learn to modify their reactions and behavior with the guidance of a professional. 


What are the symptoms to watch out for?

Children are by nature oppositional, argumentative and defiant, especially when they are upset, hungry or tired. This juvenile behavior results in it being difficult to distinguish if your child is just being naturally strong-willed or manifesting the symptoms of ODD. Some ODD-related behaviors can also arise in children undergoing a life transition, in the midst of crisis, or under stress. The only way to confirm it is when the pattern is constant, excessive, disruptive, and directed toward a particular authoritative figure.


Common behaviors of children with ODD include the following:


  • Frequent temper tantrums
  • Rebellious against rules
  • Blame others for their mistakes
  • Easily becomes annoyed and loses temper
  • Frequent outburst of anger
  • Resentment
  • Excessive arguments with adults
  • Spiteful attitude
  • Revenge seeking


The severity of ODD can be determined depending on where the difficult behaviors are exhibited. If the symptoms are frequently and intensely manifested in multiple settings such as home, school, or church, your child’s ODD is at an extraordinary level. It can be daunting for parents to see their child struggling with the symptoms. At the same time, the annoying behavior can test your limits while feeling an assortment of emotions, including guilt, embarrassment, and even fear.


How to respond to your child’s needs?

Although it may not be possible to prevent the development of ODD in high-risk children, recognizing and acting on the symptoms as soon as they become evident can minimize distress to the affected child and family. It can also effectively prevent the occurrence of many problems that may be triggered by the disorder.

Unfortunately, not all parents have the tools and knowledge to provide nurturing, supportive, and consistent care with a balance of love and discipline to help alleviate the symptoms and prevent episodes of difficult behavior. Your usual parenting strategies may not work. Accepting that your child needs help is critical – it is the reason why you would reach out to seek help. Seeking appropriate treatment is very important, especially when the child with ODD is experiencing rejection by peers because of aggressive and annoying behavior.

Without treatment, ODD has a greater chance of developing into more serious conduct disorder, such as juvenile delinquency, substance abuse, and self-harm. It is also possible for the progressive symptoms to persist until adulthood, significantly impairing the child’s relationships, career, and general quality of life.


Where to find help?

Raising a child with ODD can be emotionally exhausting. With all the symptoms your child is struggling with, you hope that he or she will grow out of the condition. You may be able to provide love and care, but these are not enough for the symptoms of ODD to go away without a proper diagnosis and treatment. This is something that only a trained professional can do with precision and efficiency. ODD symptoms can be assessed to decide if these are  indications that your child may need counseling.

The good news is that ODD can be effectively resolved with behavioral therapy, an area of expertise in children’s counseling offered by the skilled counselors/therapists independently contracted with Carolina Counseling Services – North Fayetteville Office – Fayetteville, NC. Just make a call to request an appointment. Your child will be matched with the right fit therapist independently contracted with CCS – North Fayetteville Office – Fayetteville, NC. Many children have been helped to relieve the undesirable symptoms of ODD, develop social skills, and later to form healthy habits that can last into adulthood. Call today!

Serving Areas: Carolina Counseling Services

Counties: Cumberland, Bladen and Sampson Counties, NC
Areas: Fayetteville NC, Ft Bragg NC, Pope Field NC, Sliver City NC, Linden NC, Bowmore NC, Autryville NC, Bunnlevel NC, Erwin NC, Dundarrach NC, Pineview NC, Rex NC, Lemon Springs NC, Johnsonville NC, Eastover NC, Stedman NC and Wade, NC
Zip Codes: 28311, 28395, 28390, 28356

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Carolina Counseling Services – North Fayetteville Office, Fayetteville, NC

422 McArthur Road, Suite 2
FayettevilleNC 28311

Our Mailing Address:

PO BOX 9909
Fayetteville, NC 28311

Choose your Therapist

  • Becky Clark, MSW, LCSW

    Specializes in: (Ages 18+) Anxiety, Depression, Individuals, Couples, Geriatrics, Criminal Justice, Stress Management, Loss and Grief related to death, disability, divorce, deployment, “empty nest”, retirement and other major life transitions
    Insurance: BCBS, Tricare, Medicare, and Cash

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    Location: Fayetteville, NC