Do you often feel overwhelmed as the parent of an ODD child? Kimberly Abraham and Marney Studaker-Cordner have worked with parents of kids with Oppositional Defiant Disorder for 20 years—and Kim is the parent of an adult child with ODD. Read on to find out the 5 things you need to know to be a more effective parent.

Raising an ODD child is like belonging to a special kind of club: it’s the “Special Forces Unit” of parenting. When you have an ODD kid, you encounter situations parents of “typical kids” would never dream of. What’s worse, you didn’t volunteer for this duty—it’s much more akin to being drafted. And while you’re trying your best to parent a very difficult child, you’re often misunderstood by professionals and other parents who are raising typical kids.

It helps to remember what’s driving your child’s behavior: the need to be in control.

The bottom line is that a child with ODD is not your typical kid. The primary difference? Typical kids will allow others to exert some degree of control over them. They may argue, but they’ll eventually give in. They may break rules, but they allow themselves to be grounded. Ultimately, they will give over to parental (or adult) authority. What’s the biggest fear an ODD kid has? Loss of control to a parent, or any adult authority figure. In an argument, your ODD child will dig his heels in rather than yield. As soon as he feels threatened, it’s on! Grounded? Please! Parents often feel more miserable during grounding than their ODD child. In the words of 15-year-old Jack, “I know how to get ungrounded. I’ll just turn my stereo up so loud all my mom’s knick knacks fall off the shelves. She’ll beg me to get out of the house!”

Here are some tips if you’re living with a “Jack” in your home:

Nobody Wins the Blame Game. When your home is in turmoil because of constant arguing with your child, it can be easy to fall into the trap of blame. Kim is the parent of an ODD child, and as she was raising him, she often found herself saying things like, “My son is ruining my life. I spend all my time dealing with him. I don’t even have any time for myself anymore.” And she didn’t just blame him for how she was feeling and the constant chaos in their home, she often blamed herself. “I’d beat myself up by saying, ‘If I was a better parent, he wouldn’t be this way,’” she explains. “After I realized what I was doing, whenever I found myself caught up in the Blame Game, I tried to take a step back and identify what I was feeling. Usually it was hurt or disappointment in my son or myself: I was taking my child’s behavior or choices personally. I had to realize that my son was not responsible for my emotional well-being—I was.”

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Blaming yourself or your child won’t help the situation and can leave you feeling angry and resentful toward him. To make matters worse, you’ll come away feeling guilty on top of it. It’s good to hold your child accountable for his actions, but when it turns to blame, it will only worsen feelings of resentment. Besides, kids are quick to blame others for their own behavior. Instead, you want to be a role model for them by taking responsibility for your own feelings and actions.

Keeping A Tab Just Leaves You with a Huge Bill. With Kim’s son, she says that it was never that he’d done “just one thing—it was that he’d done twenty things over the course of a day (or sometimes an hour).” So it wasn’t just that he’d refused to take care of his dishes, it was that an hour before that he’d kicked a hole in the wall, and an hour before that, he’d gotten in a fight with his brother. She kept a running tab in her mind of everything he’d done wrong. It left her feeling overwhelmed and hopeless. By the time he refused to take care of the dishes, she’d had enough. She could give you a tab of offenses he’d committed back to the time he was six and threw mashed potatoes on the wall just because he was bored! But there’s another side to that coin: her son would also give her a running tab of the mistakes she’d made as a parent, back to the time he believed she sold his toys at a garage sale. It was a recipe for arguments and power struggles.

Just as parents want the chance to learn from our mistakes and start each day fresh, our children deserve the same. Though sometimes it’s difficult to separate these actions out, try to make your responses fit the specific behavior, instead of the running list you have going in your head. In other words, don’t let your child’s bad behavior compound until there’s no punishment or consequence big enough for them.

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Tug of War Will Give You Rope Burn. It helps to remember what’s driving your child’s behavior: the need to be in control. When faced with loss of control, ODD kids will often go to extremes to fight against authority. Suddenly, you’re no longer focused on the behavior or issue at hand; you’re in a power struggle. Rather than your child learning from consequences, things quickly get way off topic. You might start out trying to address your son’s grades in school, and end up arguing about whether or not you threw away his Matchbox cars when he was four years old. But engaging in power struggles will leave you exhausted, frustrated and often confused as to what the heck just happened! Our advice is this: When you find yourself in a tug-of-war over control, try letting go of the rope. And ask yourself, “What is my intention in this discussion?” If you’re simply arguing with no clear direction or purpose, it’s probably not a discussion that needs to occur. The best thing to do is walk away. Remember, it takes two to tug on that rope. If you keep pulling on your end, you’re likely to end up in the mud.

Sometimes an Answer Isn’t Required. Sometimes kids just need to vent. Ever find yourself needing to get something off your chest, but you’re not really looking for an answer? As parents, we tend to jump in and try to solve what we view as our kids’ problems. Sometimes when they’re complaining or upset it doesn’t really require a response from us beyond, “I hear what you’re saying.” Kim used to go into “fix-it” mode with her son, offering solutions to problems despite the fact that he hadn’t even asked for guidance. Not surprisingly, he would shoot down every one of her suggestions and then get angry at her. Why? Because he didn’t really want her to solve anything.

If your child is looking for an answer or response, they’ll ask you. Otherwise, try just listening without jumping in to help. Allow your child to have his feelings, and know he’s been heard.

Change Your Thoughts. The way you think about things determines how you feel and act toward your child. If your thoughts are negative, it will affect the way you interact and respond to his behavior—and to him as a person. See if you can catch hold of things that are popping into your mind and replace them with more positive thoughts. For example, when “Jack” digs his heels in on something, instead of thinking, “He’s so stubborn; everything’s an argument,” try to change that thought to, “He’s certainly determined.” Changing your thoughts can help you change how you’re feeling toward your child.

When someone pushes against you, the natural instinct is to push back. When Kim’s son pushed against her in defiance, she said she “often found herself pushing back in reaction, without even thinking about it.” Your child may have the type of personality that will continue to push against others and fight against being controlled in any way. Make no mistake, raising an ODD child is an emotional and challenging experience. It’s a process of trying to be creative, because you have to constantly look for “things that work” with a child whose very essence is to fight against being controlled.

The truth is, your child’s personality isn’t likely to change, but if you use these tips we offer, you’ll find yourself engaging in that conflict less frequently and less intensely. As Kim says, “I found that it was hard for my child to argue without a partner in the process. By changing how I responded to him, over time our relationship changed.” If you’re able to alter the way you respond to your child, the result will be less conflict and more peace in your home. And by modeling the techniques we’ve given you, you’ll be teaching your child conflict-resolution skills, de-escalating techniques, healthy relationship skills and coping skills. The best part? You’ll be able to end the day feeling good about yourself and knowing that you gave it your best.

Related Content:
Parenting ODD Children and Teens: How to Make Consequences Work
Oppositional Defiant Disorder: The War at Home

About and

Kimberly Abraham and Marney Studaker-Cordner are the co-creators of The ODD Lifeline® for parents of Oppositional, Defiant kids, and Life Over the Influence™, a program that helps families struggling with substance abuse issues (both programs are included in The Total Transformation® Online Package). Kimberly Abraham, LMSW, has worked with children and families for more than 25 years. She specializes in working with teens with behavioral disorders, and has also raised a child with Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Marney Studaker-Cordner, LMSW, is the mother of four and has been a therapist for 15 years. She works with children and families and has in-depth training in the area of substance abuse. Kim and Marney are also the co-creators of their first children's book, Daisy: The True Story of an Amazing 3-Legged Chinchilla, which teaches the value of embracing differences and was the winner of the 2014 National Indie Excellence Children's Storybook Cover Design Award.

Comments (79)
  • Vp
    Hello. I strongly believe my 8 year old son has ODD. My question is that he really ONLY shows these behaviors for us his parents and close family/grandparents. He gets nothing but positive feedback from school, other teachers, coaches, etc. Has anyone else experienced this and how is itMore possible? When I read "don't take things personally" I want to rip my hair out because this feels very very personal. I hope I don't hear "at least he knows how to behave outside the home!" Because I'm terrified he will one day treat his own family poorly. My husband and I are defeated, depressed, and traumatized. Thanks for reading
    • Denise Rowden, Parent CoachEP Coach

      Thank you for sharing your story. You bring up a situation shared by many parents. We have an article you find helpful: https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/angel-child-or-devil-child-when-kids-save-their-bad-behavior-for-you/.

      We appreciate you being part of our Empowering Parents community. Be sure to check back and let us know how things are going. Take care.

  • In Tears

    I am almost in tears today :(

    I feel defeated , I feel at loss and I feel like giving up on my 11 year old.

    He has issues with authority , he argues , he wants to show off and wants constant attention from his classmates and gets it by doing something negative. This is the third call in 2 weeks from schools, he interrupts, he bends the rules, he hates authority. Grades and study is A +, but behavior is zero.

    I though of some BOOT camp type or some residential facility or some military school but feels so bad when I think like those things for my otherwise kind hearted kid.

    I dont know what should I do now?

  • IMissMyLife

    Reading all of these posts makes me feel as though I'm not alone. Thank you everyone for posting.

    My 9yo, much like the stories I'm reading here, is ODD. I find myself yet again at 4am Googling " How do I keep my sanity with an ODD child". I've done this more times than I can count...it's the only way I know to bring my emotions back in check.

    My son, since maybe 6mths old, has been...a nightmare. Therapy, positive/negative reinforcement, oils, prayer, time out, spanking, and eventually medication - nothing is the "cure". I'm terrified to date and many days even to go anywhere. He ruins most outings regardless of their nature (mall, party, ice cream, grocery shopping). My life is built around his behavior.

    I imagine what it would be like had I only had his brother and then I feel guilty for those thoughts. It all just feels hopeless.

    Someone please tell me he'll grow out of this... His specialists and psychiatrist say he very likely will but I'm not sure I believe it and honestly, by then, I'll be a shell of a person - defeated, depressed and alone. Please someone say it gets better.

    • Denise Rowden, Parent CoachEP Coach
      I am so sorry you are facing these struggles with your son. I can only imagine how distressing this must be for you. There are effective ways of responding to and addressing his behavior that may help you feel less out of control. We have several articles that offer toolsMore and techniques for parenting children with ODD. You can find those here: https://www.empoweringparents.com/article-categories/conditions-diagnoses/oppositional-defiant-disorder/. We appreciate you sharing your story. Be sure to check back and let us know how things are going.
  • Beck

    Hi, im new to empowering parents as i struggle with my 6yo son's defiant behaviour. It started off as a aggressive behaviour once when we went on holidays and through the airport refused to hold my hand and when i tried to tell him started punching into me. I felt embarassed, ashamed, hurt and helpless.

    His behaviour continued to escalate regurlarly with tantrums in front of people, anger outbursts and constant arguing back with me. I blamed myself and started resenting him, id lay and cry myself to sleep at night feeling isolated and helpless. I have tried taking hik to drs a few times to get a referral of possible adhd as his quite hyperactive and does 8 somersaults from the couch to the floor 600 times a night and cant sit still long enough to watch a movie. Theres been so many occasions where i'd leave the movies, football games, his sporting just because of the shame and embarassment id endue arguing with him. I never heard anything back fr the referral. So for another year me being at my wits end and blaming myself as a single parent that i just wasnt foing a good job. It has taken its toll over the last few months to the point where i loathe being a parent most days, i dont enjoy doing fun things as too much effort goes into trying to discipline him. I love him dearly but the defiance and arguing has even started occuring with friends of mine that try to step in at times because they see what it does to me amd he screams in thier face and gets angry and aggressive with me. I feel so isolated and feel i never have time for me. To try to have a relationship with guy is near impossible because im embarassed and lost all confidence to date as i feel on edge about the way my son would behave on front of them. Ive gone and gotten another referral to see a behavior specialist just waotong on getting an appointment as im at wits end. I just want to knkw how to cope better for him and me.

    Just want to be a happy mama again.

    Thanks for reading as ive been doing a lot of research on ODD and it helps to feel im not alone.

  • Angela
    I am having the same problem as everyone else with my 11 year old. He is verbally and physically abusive. Everyday its an argument from the time he gets up (5:30 am) to the time he goes to bed (9:00 pm). The school calls at least threeMore time a day. The medicine is not helping. He sees a therapist and psychiatrist. The psychiatrist only prescribes medication and does not interact with him when he acts up in her office. He has no friends or social life. He refuses to do anything except play video games. The school placed him in a special education class and he was an honor student. It seems as though my issues are the same as everyone else's, but there is no solution except to call the police or wait until he gets arrested for something serious. Am I missing something because we really need help? The house is chaotic and we do not have much of a social life because people do not want to be associated with his behavior. We cannot get a babysitter just so we can go out for two hours. Family members won't even watch him.
  • Shannon
    My son is almost 11. Today I finally lost it. I took a week off took him out of town for three days with his friend. During this time he argued 3/4 of everyday and even started fighting with his friend..told him to shut up a few times andMore to leave him alone. Yesterday we went to Kentucky Speedway w family which he fought w me most of the time as well. When we got home at night I told him to sleep in his own room (he wanted to sleep w me) he came in my room three times arguing and crying because he didn’t want to. This morning I told him I couldn’t deal with going to a family party today because he acts up when a lot of people are around and he starTED arguing because he wanted to go. After a week straight of it and not having a break from him I ended up crying and breaking down. I hate when that happens but I am a single parent and it’s exhausting having a kid this difficult. we are trying another doctors to try to get back on meds once again when nothing has worked.
  • Jmi
    I have a 15yr old son who in reality is my step son. i came into his and his sisters life a couple months after their mother passed when they were 4 and 5. so i have been in their lives longer than their biological mom. She passed away fromMore Lupus and unfortunately when my son was 10 he was also diagnosed with Lupus. He is controlled in that aspect with a variety of meds. For the past couple of years he had been acting out more than usual and it has been gradually escalating and becoming more defiant. He has ODD. its been a constant battle with him... he picks on everyone, esp his younger sibling and his older sister. His grades have plummeted he gets in trouble at school. He says he just doesnt care. I'm an RN and a high school teacher, my husband is also a teacher, so when it comes to medical treatment im all for it, education and good grades are a must in our house. Our son seems to think otherwise. He says its his life and we should let him do whatever he wants. It is such a huge power struggle with him and myself because I know deep down he still feels that im not his real mother and he doesnt have to listen to me. His behavior is always worst with me than with his father, of course. We have a counselor that visits with him like 2 times a month or so, but honestly her involvement is kind of pointless, or maybe just a sounding board for my son. I really dont know what to do with him anymore. its too expensive to ship him off to military school.
  • Amybeth
    My son Carson turned 11 today. He has been diagnosed with ADHD & ODD. Mostly everyday is a battle. He is now homeschooled by me while j work because he wouldn't cooperate in school. We tried a low grade of meds thru his dr,and it didn't help much. More He throws things, tears up my house or anything in his way, says horrible things to me. Screams, says he's gonna harm himself or run away,and all because things don't go exactly his way. I am sooooo tired of living this way. I've tried positive reward,but I'm not the best at being consistent. It's hard not to give in when we're in public or I really need him to behave.(like late for work or at church) Sometime's I feel as if i have to give in! I need advice, help, something. I feel like if I keep dealing with this,I'm gonna be the one who needs needs! Help
  • John A
    Something I'm looking for but can't find is dealing with an ODD child when other children are also in the mix. All these strategies seem to be one-on-one and don't deal with the extra dimension of conflict with the other children. It is all very well for me to remainMore calm and not buy into the conflict, much less so for a 9 year old, so even if I step out of it the conflict escalates anyway. The apparent tolerance for bad behaviour can also seem extremely unfair to them. What advice do you have on training your other children to deal with the ODD one?
  • John
    Thank you. You have described my relationship with my son to perfection. So what I get out of this is I am supposed to give up and let him have his way every time he challenges me? I am supposed to let him control the relationship? WhenMore I ask him to do something my belief is he should do it. You are saying he doesn't have to do anything I ask, because he fights me on EVERY task. You obviously know the symptom very well. I just don't feel what you are saying is a solution. He doesn't get to be the boss of our home just because he has a tantrum every time I ask him to do something. It seems like all submission is teaching him is that his tactics work, and he wins. So winning the battle is NOT important for the parent??? That leaves the child in control of the home. That is not the outcome I desire. What am I missing?
    • Momslove
      @john My son is now doing exactly what the article describes (he wasn't as aggressive but would do passive aggressive stuff like breaking things when no one is looking.). So we didn't know about ODD until he was a teenager. In other words, if we had, andMore had gotten this advice, we'd have a way better outcome. Today, my husband and I have to work from the mess that has been created by that need for control by our ODD son. So glad I found this site. It's still not an easy path going forward-a lot of damage has been done.
    • Rebecca Wolfenden, Parent Coach
      I hear how much you want to learn more effective techniques for parenting your son, and I appreciate your questions. Parenting a child with ODD, or those tendencies, can feel like one long power struggle over who is in control, so you are not alone in your frustration. More Rather than simply giving up your authority and letting your son “win”, the article above advises that it tends to be more effective to pick your battles, and to focus on where you have control. While you cannot “make” your son act a certain way or follow your rules, you can control your own responses and whether/how you choose to hold him accountable if he is choosing not to follow your rules. You might find additional information on this in Your Defiant Child’s Behavior: 5 Things You Can—and Can’t—Control as a Parent as well as Avoiding Power Struggles with Defiant Children: Declaring Victory is Easier than You Think. Please be sure to write back and let us know how things are going for you and your family. Take care.
      • Momslove
        I feel that my son is like John is thinking-he has taken control of the home. Why? Because my husband fails to do the ideas suggested above. Thank you for your advice and the help you give to parents.
  • RhondaFlowers


    So I have a 17 year old daughter I raised her on my own other then her seeing her father twice a month. When she was 10 years old Dr said she was odd and add. I have a long story but, I'll try to break it down.

    About 2 months ago. The most recent thing that has happened my daughter lied about being at work and going somewhere else. So I took her phone, keys and license away. So the fighting began. Very disrespectful. Everyday she would yell at me or my mom . So after a week she still wanted to lie more and more and just kept on. Fighting with me by kicking me so I smacked her butt. All I was then was a worthless mother to her. So I sent her to go live with her father.

    When she left she said she wanted nothing to do with me at all. I gave her a hug and still told her I loved her and I would wait to hear from her. I have heard from her a few times. And today she calls cause she wants some of her things and turned into more fighting and that everything was my fault and calling me crazy. I am so lost I just feel I lost my little girl forever .

    Thank you.

  • Kellie83
    Omg I need help?!! I have a 10 year old that I am at a total loss with! He hasn't officially been diagnosed with ADHD and ODD yet but I'm working on getting him in with his dr soon. He shows every sign of both and I'm at my witsMore end. I've tried everything with him, grounding, spanking, time outs, calm talks screaming even crying because I simply can't handle it. He fights constantly with his older brother who is 12 and myself from the time he gets off the bus until bed time. I'll ask him to do or not to do something over and over until I get mad and try to take away something and he literally fights me. I myself have a thyroid disease and am often very weak and sick from it and I just don't have the strength to fight him. I've been told by outsiders that "if I were to bust his butt or punish him correctly he wouldn't act this way." He is causing my house to feel like a constant battle ground and I need some tips on things I can do to make our lives a bit easier. My husband is an over the road truck driver and Is barely ever home so I don't get much help from him unless I have to call him because our son is just flat out being unruly. Any and all tips are appreciated.
    • At a loss
      We are in the same situation with my 10 year old son. His dad and I are divorced and both families are very involved. We are all at a loss now. He has became more and more defiant. We are currently looking for a conselor in our area. Prayers forMore you and your family during the difficult time.
    • Danielsmomtanya
      Hello, I have a 10 year old son who is adhd & odd as well & my life has been a constant battle with him. However 3 weeks ago I started charging a dollar for bad behaviour. Everytime he raised his voice $1, if he misbehaved at school $1, ifMore he didn't hang his jacket, put boots in closet etc... $1. & he said well this isnt real money mom I don't habe any! & my response was yes you do "everything I have bought you can be sold for me to get the money you owe me" so the first week he got to $106 & it literally killed me but I sold his ipad! Doctor told me if I set a boundary I must follow through with it. Next week $40 was accumulated & I sold his favorite video game... This week $4 so far! I have not once raised my voice & this is a huge change & I have simply explained to him his behaviour will not be tolerated anymore. Clearly he now knows I am not playing games because his behaviour is getting better & better. I would normally cave & I am not! Try it "it's working for me" hope I have given you some hope
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport
      Kellie83 I’m so sorry to hear about the challenges you are facing with your son.  It can be so difficult to deal with constant fighting, not to mention the additional struggles you face with your health problems, the lack of support from others, and your husband’s absence due to hisMore work.  I hear you.  In situations like this, it can be useful to focus on where you have control, which is over yourself and your own actions.  While you cannot “make” your son behave in a certain way, or follow your rules, you can control how you respond and hold him accountable.  I want to point out that we do not recommend getting into physical fights with your son or trying to force him to comply, as this is not going to teach him how to follow the rules and could actually escalate power struggles between you.  Instead, you might try some of the strategies outlined in https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/how-to-get-your-child-to-listen-9-secrets-to-giving-effective-consequences/.  Please be sure to check back and let us know how things are going for you and your family.  Take care.
      • DesperateGuardian
        I've been struggling for 8 years raising my nephews with special needs and I need some advice on what to do when nothing works for anyone and you have become fearful and resentful towards your child?
        • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport
          DesperateGuardian Parenting can be so draining and exhausting sometimes, even under the best of circumstances, and I’m glad that you’re here.  It can be so frustrating to feel as though you have tried everything, and still https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/my-kid-will-never-change-when-youve-hit-a-wall-with-your-childs-behavior/  Reaching out for additional support, and learning new tools to try, can beMore really helpful next steps.  You might find some useful techniques in our series on acting out children: https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/are-you-afraid-of-your-acting-out-child-part-i-why-giving-in-is-a-dead-end/ and https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/are-you-afraid-of-your-acting-out-child-part-ii-7-ways-to-get-back-parental-authority/.  Please be sure to check back and let us know how things are going for you and your family.  Take care.
  • Paullette

    I have a 15 yo daughter who I don't particularly like at the moment. The current batttle is she has ended a friendship of 11 years with 2 best mates which has isolated her in the town where we live so she has taken to not coming home so she can be in the town 45 minutes away where the new friends and her social life is. She also changed whwere she works to this town and plans to just spend every weekend there. When I advised if she chose to work there then the bus was part of the deal I was basically told I can't stop her which is true.

    So while this article is accurate what does it actually look like to do the things suggested?

    How do I change how i think about my 15 year old putting herself at risk being on the verge of being kicked out of school or not feeling I can trust her in my home alone? How should I respond when she sends me 81 msgs in 2 hkurs to get her own way or screams at me for 30 minutes or puts a teacher on the edge of breaking. I try to ignore not respond or walk away and it fuels her.

    How do I take responsibility for my own emotional well being in what is an abusive relationship that I can't walk away from? I see a psychologist but that doesn't help when I am scared of what mood my daughter is in or when the school phones (the school that I also work in) calls every day on the slope to a major explosion.

    I have this beautiful intelligent articulate young lady who I love and I am watching a train wreck. Paullette

    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport
      Paullette I hear you.  It can be so difficult when you are facing behaviors like this from your child, and I’m glad that you are here reaching out for support.  As Kim and Marney point out in another article, https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/your-defiant-childs-behavior-5-things-you-can-and-cant-control-as-a-parent/, one of the most effective actions you can take inMore this type of situation is to focus on your own responses and actions, because this is an area where you have more control.  For example, as you mentioned, while you cannot make your daughter work in a certain town, you can set limits for yourself around transporting her.  While you cannot stop your daughter from being abusive toward you or sending you multiple text messages, you can choose how you respond to that.  I’m glad that you are working with a psychologist as well.  It might be helpful to work with this professional to develop a plan to help you feel more in control, no matter what type of mood she might be in or the choices she might be making.  I recognize that this is a challenging situation, and I wish you all the best as you continue to move forward.  Take care.
  • cge1587


    (I'm not very familiar or experienced at blogging, so please bear with my learning curve)

    I'm a single parent of  10 year old boy, adopted (virtually since newborn), born healthy (not drug exposed), tests gifted (not usually a gift for the parent, I've learned), has ADHD, ODD, with infrequent episodes of CD. He's on multiple meds per psychiatrist, including mood stabilizer and antidepressant.   Last night was 4th time I've called the police in ~14 months (as advised) when his melt-downs go too far and I don't know how or when they will stop. Last night was in our car in store parking lot.  I didn't want to drive home only so that he could continue in the privacy of our home and damage something in our home, etc.

    My question:  What, when, and/or how do I talk to him about his having ODD?  Or do I not talk about it with him at this age?

    He's tried to take advantage of having ADHD at school, by once announcing it in class, using it as excuse, etc.  But, he commented once to his therapist that he feels like he has more anger than a kid should have.  I want to increase his understanding, hoping that will help his self-esteem and then behavior.  He can be such a great, polite, fun, generous kid, sometimes.  I can imagine he is scared by his own behavior sometimes and knowing more might help.  Or it might be too much information, scare him more, and/or he use it as an excuse to not take responsibility for his actions, which he does already.

    Thoughts from professionals?  Similar questions/concerns from other parents?

    Grasping at straws here for what will help.


    • Doesn't matter

      Using the label can be good with some - for example, someone with an analytical mind who finds value in categorization - but more detrimental to others - for example, someone who feels above average and would be offended to be lumped into a group.

      Just like with NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder), it's recommended to address the behaviors with the person, regardless of the label.

      For me, the analytical mind, it is tempting to bring up the label and how the behaviors fit so well, but it makes more sense not to bring it up unless it will specifically help with that person's behaviors.

      My background and current situation:

      I am probably Borderline Personality Disordered (I have 8 of 9 traits); I was in a 3-yr relationship with someone I believe to be Narcissistic Personality Disordered (also 8 of 9 traits); my son's behaviors have fit well into ODD, since a very young age (he's now 15).

      I've done reading and research informally, have been in therapy for 30 yrs on and off.

      Good Luck. Thank you for writing. I've never been able to find a group, so this is the closest to it.

    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport
      cge1587 Thank you for writing in and sharing your experiences with your son.  I hear how much you are struggling with whether to share your son’s diagnosis with him, and how much you should share with him.  I also see that you are working with other professionals to help yourMore son manage his behavior.  It could be useful to talk with them about your concerns, if you have not already done so.  Because they have the benefit of working directly with you and your son, they will be in a much better position to help you decide what you should share with your son, as well as the timing of this.  Please be sure to write back and let us know how things are going for you and your son.  Take care.
  • Secret squirrel Nic

    Our 9 year old daughter has ODD. We have some periods of almost normal family life and long periods of hell and misery dealing with the volatility of her moods, the violent outbursts, the cruel insults, the damage to our home environment and the continual fights with her sibling.

    In utter desperation, we have recently approached a child psychologist and are paying privately for counselling sessions with her. She will meet my daughter for the first time later today. We have had the best week I can remember in a long time, no violent behaviour just a few 'simmers' which we've managed to diffuse. What have we done differently? We have absolutely stuck to our guns with consequences for bad behaviour - she spent five hours in her bedroom a week ago and we took away some things which she really loves. She can control this behaviour at school and I've used this to really bring home to her that she has choices in life and it is her decision to take the 'wrong' route. I also bought and am reading 10 days to a less defiant child and have found some of the advice helpful.

    I've had a good week and am feeling there is hope but am all too aware that should this slip back into the hell we have been living, that my hope and optimism will be eroded immediately. I feel quite strongly that there needs to be forums like this to offer support to other parents living their lives in continual angst and fear of how the mood will turn. We are all doing our best in times of desperation for our children and we should not beat ourselves up or feel blame for the way things are with our children. Please know you are not alone. Good luck everyone.

  • Deflated Mother
    I have an ODD 12 year old daughter & I am at a total loss.
  • LisaHartman
    I am the mother of a 21 year old boy and was sitting feeling desperately helpless tonight with his behaviour I decided to look on the Internet for some kind of consolidation and have read all these comments from sad desperate parents like myself although it has madeMore me feel so much better to know there are other parents out there feeling exactly like me. I'm sorry to say as they get older it may get slightly better. But the problem is they have no empathy and the problem does not ever go away. My son no longer lives with me thank good I love him with all my heart but he is ruthless cold and selfish I have once again been crying my eyes out tonight.ive had 21 yrs of it and still my heart aches
    • Bsgma
      I am so sorry for the hurt you are feeling. I was led here trying to find information to help and try to understand what my daughter and grandson are dealing with. My grandson is diagnosed with ODD. You are right. It does help to know you are not aloneMore and that others struggle as well. I wish you well and will pray for all people struggling through this to find peace.
  • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport

    Mom to Blaise

    I’m so sorry

    to hear about the struggles you are experiencing with your son, and I’m glad

    that you have found our site as well.The threats your son is making about killing himself are quite

    concerning, and I encourage you to take them seriously.I recommend working with your son’s case

    manager, and other members of his treatment team, to develop a plan you can

    implement when he is making these statements.I also hear how scared you are for your daughter’s safety as well as

    your own, especially when your husband is not home.Thus, I encourage you to also make a plan for

    you and your daughter to stay safe from harm when your son is attempting to

    attack you.You might find some useful

    information in our article, https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/signs-of-parental-abuse-what-to-do-when-your-child-or-teen-hits-you/.I can only imagine how difficult your current

    situation must be for you, and I wish you and your family all the best moving

    forward.Take care.

  • concerned adult
    A child with ODD that is under weight for their height and age who refuses to eat what everyone else is eating, should they be allowed to eat what ever they want?
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport

      concerned adult 

      Thank you for your question.If you have concerns about your child’s diet, and whether s/he is

      getting enough nutrition, it can be useful to check in with your child’s

      doctor.S/he would be able to assess

      your child’s nutritional requirements, as well as provide any necessary resources

      or referrals for follow-up.  Take care.

      • concerned adult

        RebeccaW_ParentalSupport concerned adult 

        The doctor is the one who told us he was under weight, I was trying to get responses how other parents handled these eating issues. Do you offer your child food at meal time and if they refuse to eat you put it up and when they come to you later you give them the same plate or do you just let them pick and choose what they want to eat and not fight the battle???

        • Jake and Becky
          concerned adult RebeccaW_ParentalSupport We have an 8 year old with ODD and when food becomes an issue, she has some "standards" she can have (grilled cheese, apples, or a quesadilla).  She has to make them for herself if she doesn't want to eat the "family meal," and making that choice alsoMore eliminates any dessert options.  So basically if she doesn't want to eat dinner, her plate is put away (she can have it back), she can have one of her "standards" instead, but she doesn't get anything else.
          • Bsgma
            I really like this idea! I was thinking: eat what we eat or you can have pb&j.; The idea of more than one option will let them feel more in control of that is what they need at the moment. I also like that she has to make it herself.More Although my grandson is a bit young for that, it is something to remember for the future, as he learns.
  • Everyday warrior
    It is so difficult as a parent of an ODD child not to take it personally when that child behaves well outside the home. My sons ODD raises its ugly head only when he is around his immediate family. Even Aunts and Uncles describe him as an ideal child. AtMore home he throws furniture down stairs, constantly verbally attacks us all and does as he pleases or there is hell to pay. I privately refer to him as TDT , the domestic terrorist. I have been reading, using behavioral systems, gotten counseling and praying for years about this. My friends say I have the patience of a Saint but I believe they secretly think my husband and I are failures. Maybe we are. I worry about my son, and his sister who deals with his rage with quiet ignorance until she cracks and hauls off to kick him. What is this ODD hell! My life revolves around the person whose behavior least deserves the attention. I have found that detaching, as much as possible, works the best to minimize the "attacks" . This also makes me believe he would be better off without me, but I don't think anyone else would let him live. I often want to take my daughter and run away.
    • Heart Breaking


      I am also in this same situation. My son, now aged five has been the same since he reached 1/2 and just got worse and worse over time. He too is only like this out of school. I have been told that diagnosis of ODD OR ADHD is only when the behaviour occurs in more than one setting. I am struggling so much and every single day is a battle.

      The disobedience, the shouts, the screams, the verbal abuse, physical abuse, the tantrums, harming property and myself and his sister then the meltdowns of the sorrys that last a minute then he creates again. Never ending.

      At school he is above average in everything and is exceeding. He obviously recieves lots of praise for this and exaggerated praise too because of the age. This is why I believe it doesn't happen at school.

      I recieved help which didn't help from a support worker...it wasn't for long and hasnt changed anything at all.

      It is draining, I also feel that he needs to be elsewhere because we have no relationship, he makes me me feel like he would rather be elsewhere so that he can be happy.

      I have a daughter also, aged 9 and she has never been anything like this and as a family it is chaos built around the behaviour from my son!

      I don't know what to do for help now??


      • Doesn't Matter

        @Heart breaking & Warrior

        I am right here with you. Except - my son's behavior went through some flip - flopping. When he was 6, school called almost every day telling me he was overturning desks and chairs - please come get your terror and at home, he wasn't perfect, but nothing like that.

        I finally consented to special services in school, and this helped greatly. He was able to get back to mainstream without these issues when he hit fifth grade.

        But, at home now, everything turned on me.

        Now he's 15. He doesn't care about much: grades, social activities, chores. I imagine depression plays a part as well.

        So, I would say to you - I very much understand what a nightmare a "TDT" can be, at least there is hope for each of yours - maybe they will find a niche through career.

      • Bsgma
        I was researching ODD randomly on the internet and came across the Mayo health page. I generally trust the Mayo website more than most others. Anyway, when looking at symptoms, it specifically says that it may occur at one or more of the following: home / school. My grandson's behaviorMore was only at home for a while. Then it started coming out more and more at other locations. I am sure that you are grateful that he doesn't act out outside of the home but that doesn't mean he never will. Keep trying to get help. My daughter struggled for years (literally) to get some kind of answer until she FINALLY was able to find help. Good luck. I will pray for you and your family. Don't give up on your child or yourself.
    • Jake and Becky

      @Everyday warrior We have an 8 year old daughter with ODD and a 14 year old "normal" son.  Since literally before birth our daughter has been the focus of 90% of our attention and I feel like our son has lost his childhood to his sister.  She is abusive (every way but physically), AND she has been in therapy / receiving outside help since the age of 3.  She's gone to therapy every week for five and a half years.  We've had in-home help.  She's in special education at school under "emotional disorder" (not for any cognitive reasons - just because she's unpredictable and abusive to the other kids).

      I am the only person who can keep her under control, and it's a subtle thing - if I am gone, if she is out of the house for more than a day or two (split custody with her biological father), her behavior rapidly deteriorates.  When she is with him, the rest of us practically sigh with relief because we can have a day or two without conflict - a day or two where we can actually do fun things, or be productive.  I, too, have wondered about what it would be like to give up custody to her father...  maybe it would be a better life for me and my husband and my son...  but it wouldn't be a better choice for the rest of the planet.  

      I've put one foot in front of the other for years and years with her, and we've known since she was an infant that something was ... not quite right with her ...  But now I'm starting to be afraid for what comes up ahead.  What will high school look like for her?  Is my commitment to her one that will be this intense for the rest of my life?  What is going to happen to her when she's not living with mommy any more??  I can handle the day-to-day... but what about a few years from now?  Her future is my fear...

      Everyday warrior, secret squirrel, and all the others...  I think we all know we're not alone, but being a parent of and ODD kid is still isolating.  It's not like there's a "ODD Kids Tuesday Afternoon Playgroup" - at least not in my neighborhood.  It's good to share stories and strategies...

    • KelliPage
      @Everyday warrior I am in the same boat....dreaming of leaving with my other child.
      • Doesn't Matter


        I feel you on that

        I go through all kinds of guilt because there are many moments when l think how much I hate this child and I want to just send him away. (But where, anyway? Lol)

        I've gotten to the point where I can say to myself - I do not hate him. I hate the way I feel right now, which is a failure, depressed, angry, insignificant, weak.

        And then I recognize that it's not my son's fault I feel that way.

        So I try to go back to him with compassion.

        But it is


    • jenalynb
      @Everyday warrior You are a warrior for sure and we deal with the same thing. Everything you said is our lives. My son is 23 and has cerebral palsy and I also believe ODD.  We are in the same boat and know exactly what you are dealing with and howMore you are dealing with it.  I just wanted to tell you there are others, like myself, living this hell.
    • Secret squirrel Nic
      Everyday Warrior, you are not alone. I'm reading your post In tears because I khow you are feeling and that awful mix of feelings of desperation, hopelessness and thinking there's no escape from this. We have a 9 year old daughter who since the age of 3 hasMore been, at times, horrendously difficult to parent and it is only by chance I've self diagnosed her condition as ODD. She too is pretty good outside the home but often violent unpredictable and out of control at home. Makes us feel like we've failed as parents. Now I've read more about the condition I know we have to get outside help. I have the number of a child psychologist who's been recommended to us and tomorrow we are starting the journey of getting some help. I love my daughter but feel we've never had any semblance of normal family life because of this condition. I don't have any answers but wanted you to know there are other families out there feeling the same and I think we have to keep reaching out for help until we find it. Good luck, X
      • Doesn't Matter

        I feel for you guys.

        My son is now just about fifteen and it's been a rocky road that is currently one of the rockier moments.

        But I have been on and off of boards like this one for most of his life, and sad to say...

        There are no answers. That's why we don't find them.

  • Mrskb
    My almost 6 year old son is showing signs of having ODD. Our Dr has referred us to the child mental health so we are waiting for contact from them. The Dr believes if he has any "label" it is not extreme but has only met our son once. IMore am thinking he is more ODD than anything else. Although the above post is helpful I can't help but feel as though I am letting him get away with things/his behaviour by constantly backing down, something my husband feels strongly about and it's not setting the right examples to our 4 yr old son. Do you have any further advice on this? We really are at the point of desperation. My soon can be so violent with me and is constantly winding up and eventually hurting his brother, it is so hard to deal with. Many Thanks.
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      I can see that you

      are experiencing a lot of challenging behaviors from your son right now, and

      I’m glad that you are here, asking questions and reaching out for

      support.  I’d like to clarify one point, which is that Kim and Marney are

      not advising that parents back away from all conflict or allow a child to get

      away with all inappropriate behavior.  Rather, they point out that

      parenting a child with ODD, or ODD-like tendencies, tends to lead to numerous

      power struggles.  Thus, parents in this type of situation tend to be more

      effective when they are aware of this potential for frequent conflict, and are

      carefully choosing their battles with their child.  If your son is

      becoming violent with you and his brother, I encourage you to set very clear

      limits around this type of behavior.  You might find some helpful

      information about how to do this in https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/stop-aggressive-behavior-in-kids-and-tweens-is-your-child-screaming-pushing-and-hitting/ and https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/when-kids-get-violent-theres-no-excuse-for-abuse/.  Please be sure to

      check back and let us know how things are going for you and your family. 

      Take care.

  • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


    We appreciate you writing in to Empowering Parents and

    sharing your story.  I hear how concerned you are about your niece and her

    behavior, and I’m glad that you are reaching out for support. Because we are a

    website aimed at helping people become more effective parents, we are limited

    in the advice and suggestions we can give to those outside of a direct

    parenting role. It may be helpful to look into local resources to help you

    develop a plan for how you might be able to help in this situation. The 211

    National Helpline is a referral service available 24 hours a day, nationwide.

    They can give you information on the types of support services available in

    your area such as counselors, support groups as well as various other

    resources. You can reach the Helpline by calling 1-800-273-6222 or by logging

    onto http://www.211.org/. We wish you the best going

    forward. Take care.

  • Clara2000
    Hi I have a 5 year old boy who is so hard to manage he is physically violent to everyone have will argue and fight every little command asked of him I have asked for him to be referred many times to be assessed but as yet nothing he alsoMore has sensory issues in my mind he smells everything I mean everything he won't brush his teeth or hair we can't wash his hair as he goes mental if sudds go in the bath water I have given up bringing him out as I can't control him and even family will no longer help out with him because of his behaviour my really at the end of road here my husband and I are on the brink all because we can't cope with our little boy we have an older child who my son says he hates and he beats he up any time she enters a room please I what can I do I need help from somewhere
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      It can be so

      overwhelming when you have a child who appears to be so out of control at such

      a young age, and I’m glad that you are reaching out for support.  You know

      your child best, and I encourage you to continue working with local supports,

      such as his doctor, to see if there are any underlying issues which might be

      contributing to your son’s behavior.  In the meantime, you can also work

      with him to help him develop more appropriate strategies for managing his

      actions.  We have a few articles which you might find useful in creating

      this plan, such as https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/stop-aggressive-behavior-in-kids-and-tweens-is-your-child-screaming-pushing-and-hitting/ and https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/8-steps-to-anger-management-for-kids/.  I recognize how challenging this

      behavior can be, and I wish you and your family all the best moving

      forward.  Take care.

  • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


    Thank you for writing in and sharing your experiences. 

    We hear from many parents who describe similar experiences regarding the

    challenges of having a child with mental health issues and behavioral problems,

    coupled with a parent’s own difficulties, and how all of this can impact other

    relationships within the family.  You are not alone.  For help

    locating resources in the UK, you might consider checking out http://www.familylives.org.uk/.  They offer

    information, advice, support and assistance to parents and families, and you

    can reach them by calling 0808 800 2222.  They also have options for

    receiving support via live chat and email, and you can find more information on

    these on their website.  I hear how difficult this is for you right now,

    and I wish you and your family all the best moving forward.  Take care.

    • DamianH
      RebeccaW_ParentalSupport DamianH Thanks Rebecca I will contact them ? :)
  • tara1974

    I have an 8 yr old,daughter and im struggling with day to day life, she won't listen,argues,falls out with friends,hides things and I feel like she hates me.

    She doesn't and won't listen I can tel her numerous times not to do things and its like I'm wasting my time , I feel like no one understands and thinks she this pretty little girl .

    She's caused major arguments betweenn myself and her dad and plays on everything , apolagizes for some wrongs then does exactly the same again with no emotion ,having an older,sister I know she's different in her behaviour but I feel like im in a fish bowl going round in circles and I'm really struggling

  • Jodi

    My son is 17 almost 18, he is in the welding vocational program at his High School. He got a job over the summer doing welding and was fine for the first month. He is paid well but it is hard work. He is now getting bored and wants to quit. He has saved some money from his pay checks thanks to me as I had him give me 1/2 as he would have blown all his money on nothing. He loved the job up until now where he wants to quit. We told him he cannot quit. Now he is saying everyone is picking on him and he does not know what he is doing and his welds are terrible. He is looking for us to tell him if is okay to quit.

    How do we explain to him that he has to work and that he can not quit jobs as soon as he has some money saved and then when he runs out of that money find another job and just keep repeating the same cycle over again.

    He finds ever excuse to quit the job and just beats you down constantly about it.

    Please suggest some books/articles for me to read to help with this cycle as I do not want this to go on or be his way of life.

    • Marissa EP


      I can

      hear the concern you have for your son and his future employment. It sounds like he has

      expressed some concerns he has at his current job about people picking on him and his quality of

      work. It can be easy for kids to fall into “the grass is greener on the other

      side” mentality, rather than trying to work through the issue. Instead of

      trying to explain all of your concerns to your son, it can be more effective to

      help him with some problem solving around the issues he has expressed. He may

      need help figuring out an acceptable way to respond to those who are picking on

      him, or maybe help him identify a superior he could talk to about it. By doing

      this, you are helping him gain skills now that can help him make better

      decisions going forward. Wishing you and your son the best of luck as you

      continue to work on this with him.

  • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


    It’s understandable

    that you might be feeling anxious and frustrated with your son’s behavior, and

    the dangerous choices he is making.  Although your son refuses to go, it

    could still be helpful for you to voice your concerns to his doctor.  His

    doctor, and other local resources such as law enforcement or crisis services,

    can help you to make a https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/the-lost-children-when-behavior-problems-traumatize-siblings/ to follow when your son’s behavior escalates or he becomes dangerous

    to himself or others in the house.  In addition, Kim and Marney have

    another article which you might find useful: https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/my-odd-child-is-physically-abusive-to-siblings-and-parents-help/  I

    recognize how difficult this must be for you, and I wish you and your family

    all the best moving forward.  Take care.

  • Britney
    My son, whom just turned 8, is diagnosed with severe O.D.D. It has been a constant struggle the last few years. He has been failing in school and barely scraped by into 3rd grade. He does not listen to anything I say unless it benefits him. He has alsoMore gotten violent in his tantrums. He has hit, kicked, and scratched me along with all the house damage he has caused0es in the wall, broken beds and many of his possessions. He goes to church when we know he can act accordingly and says he has faith in god. I have him in counseling and seeing a psychologist who perscribes him meds. I know vounceling takes a while, but I am at my wits end. His counselor vwont even keep him more then 15 minutes because my son wont talk. His attitude is tearing our family apart, my SO and I constanly fight about what to do and I cant give my other 2 children the attention they need because i always have my hands full... I cry a lot and just feel hopeless. I don't know what else I can do to help him. Now I am looking into getting him out side help. If it continues the school has already said he will not be welcome back. I lives in Illinois which is a broke state already and they are fighting over gov funding at this point. We might not even have a school for my children to go to next year... I have never been more lost, stressed, and helpless in my life
  • Desperate parents
    I'm a parent of a 10 year old daughter who has odd, odd, psychosis and gad. My husband and I have tried to find her the right help since she has been five. Every day is a fight and is exhausting with her, as parents we don't know what elseMore to do, it's also tearning our marriage apart and our family. Please can anyone tell us where we can take her for help? We live in Ohio.
    • DeniseR_ParentalSupport

      @Desperate parents

      I am sorry you are facing these struggles. Dealing with

      acting out behaviors day in and day out can take a heavy toll on a marriage and

      a family. I’m sorry you have not been able to find the help you have been

      looking for. While I’m not able to recommend a specific mental health

      professional in your area, there is a service that may be able to help you. The

      211 Helpline is a nationwide referral service for health and human services.

      You can reach them 24 hours a day by calling 1-800-273-6222. You can also find

      them online at 211.org. Another resource that may be useful is the http://www.nimh.nih.gov/. You

      can find a link to their website on our https://www.empoweringparents.com/resources/. Best of

      luck to you and your family moving forward. Take care.

      • Desperate parents
        Thanks for the advice on the 211 thing and websites. Its good to know that there is other people like you out there that can and understand what we are going through.
  • GoldenO

    I'm curious to know if you've actually read ODD in the DSM 5 or have read published articles about this topic. It is noted that the disturbance in the child's behavior is associated with

    distress in the individual or in their social contexts, such as school and

    friends.It is not simply their individual problem or "need for control".

    There are tremendous correlations between family dysfunction and child

    conduct problems. More specifically the

    strongest correlations were poor parental supervision and lack of parent

    involvement in their child’s activities. Not to put the blame solely on the parents, but most treatments require parent management strategies; changing the ways

    parents react to their child’s behavior.

    • Aee77

      Did you read the content here? The title? I'm going to take a wild guess that you do not have a child with ODD. I do. My oldest child. My four younger children do not have ODD and do not behave in the same ways. The authors shared ideas here about what parents need to know and how to react and think differently about their child and their approach to parenting that child. So I fail to see what you believe should be included here that is not.

      I can tell you that my own oppositional child is not lacking for parental involvement and constant supervision is non-negotiable since I cannot trust her to treat the other kids with respect or kindness. She is 14 now and I have to supervise her much like a 2 year old around a hot fire. She knows how to behave, she just doesn't like the rules. She will break them for the sake of breaking them and then attempt to justify her actions. The thing that makes parenting my daughter so difficult is that I have to protect the other children in the house from her wrath. This is a tight rope walk. Despite family and individual therapy, she is a master at manipulating, and does not care about the consequences until she receives them. Then she is all apologies.

      I make mistakes as a parent. It comes with the job, but defiance for the sake of control is absolutely what my daughter does. She may have distress over school or home, but she creates it. Blaming parents isn't evil. It IS our responsibility to parent our children, but children need to be held accountable for their actions too. I have employed every "best practice" approach to parenting my daughter and many of them fail because she finds a way to escalate her behavior to the point if necessary intervention.... i. e.... hitting siblings, this became such an issue that we had to take her to the emergency room to have her evaluated. That is what stopped that behavior. Nothing else worked. There is no rule book for ODD kids and changing parenting approaches only does your part of the changing. ODD kids don't care about changing themselves. They want everyone else to change for them. There is a fine line between changing your approach and actually accommodating poor behavior. I would challenge anyone to live a week with her and try to get a better response to rules, homework, chores, sharing..... And by all means, if they could do it better, I would alter every bit of how I approach parenting my daughter. But, her response is the thing that needs to change in the end. I can change everything about how I parent, if it doesn't change the negative responses or behaviors, then what? I try again, differently. But eventually, the ideas get harder to come up with and suddenly your 6 year old with ODD is now 14 and for all of the progress you've made, twice as many problems have risen to be battled. Each new behavior is a new battle, a new argument, a new stress, and a new way for her to attempt to control something else. It's all about the control. Say what you like, but control is what ODD kids covet the most and they will fight for it like their very life depends on it.

      • jenalynb
        Aee77 well said.  As for GoldenO I did read that ODD in the DSM 5 article.   The child's behavior will not stop just because the parent changes how they approach them.  All that happens in the child finds a new way to control through a new behavior. I haveMore no use for an article that puts the blame solely on the parents.  There are many factors at play here.  Any parent dealing with this and from what I am reading there are many.  I can't believe how many.  You aren't alone and it is nice to know neither am I.  To throw out an article that pretty much says bad on you parents, you did this to your child..no way.  That article does not have it right.  By all means though GoldenO, I would LOVE to see how you deal with a child/adult who is in the middle of an ODD tantrum screaming obscenities in your face, spitting on you and breaking everything they own because they want their way.  It isn't as easy as you seem to think it is.
      • ju
        Hi, I can mimic everything you have said, my son is 12 and I feel everything you feel, it's there just no help, I'm in England and it's hardly recognised here, or so it seems my biggest worry it's her will end up with CD then live a life inMore and out of the system?
      • Goincrazy

        I am living the same life with my 16yr old son. No professional seems to understand. Some days i think of placing him in assisted living as i feel he killing me inside & just ruining life. He bn threatened of bn kicked out of school as well due to ODD behaviour displayed towards all teachers. How do u or r u coping?

        It was wonderful to read ur post. Finally someone living the same nightmare.

        • Mama2AdhdOddGirl

          I wouldn't call it "coping" so much as "barely keeping it together." This article is well-written and it may be helpful if I read it every day, but as of right now, I'm stuck in the "blame game." My entire day is spent fluctuating between being resentful of my daughter's actions and/or feeling guilty for my reactions. This is only amplified because I'm a middle school teacher with a great relationship with my students, but I come home to a middle schooler who considers manipulation to be her superpower. (No,, really. She told her therapist that she views it as a strength.)

          I can't be the mother I want to be and it's tearing me up inside. Then I feel guilty for the pity Pau I have thrown for myself and realize that I should be spending that energy helping her cope with the difficulty of having limited social skills and her constant anger/frustration.

          It is devastating to admit that I need frequent breaks from my daughter. A previous poster said that she had to sipervise her 14 year old as if she were a 2 year old. I've said this often and twice today! It is the most exhausting predicament in the world. She sabotagesaid happy moments as if she's addicted to conflict. And I'm afraud she is.

          Like everyone else had mentioned, it takesden its toll on a marriage, too. It is very difficult. I wish everyone a peaceful day. Breathe. It has to get better.

          • LaurieSue
            I am new but I wanted to say that I too understand the issues you are dealing with. My son is 15 and has Aspergers, very high functioning autism, severe ADD, nonverbal learning disorder, and anxiety. We are homeschooling him now because the school could not possibly giveMore him the intense help with social skills, emotional management, and life skills he desperately needs. In have up a great paying job I loved to homeschool him. We have tried stimulant based and non stimulant meds for the ADD, SSRI meds Zoloft and Lexapro for anxiety, Intuniv to help moderate his anger and anxiety. None of them help. We are spending a fortune on my husbands single income on copays for couseling, behavior mofification, occupational therapy, tutors, supervised social groups, private music lessons....not to mention every second of our life on his needs and he fights us every step of the way. He does not qualify for assistance programs because he is so high functioning. Its taken a huge toll on our marriage and his younger sister too. We are trying to help him but he refuses to cooperate. Some days I seriously consider drugging him into oblivion with sedatives so we can have some type of a semi normal life for a day or two. I have to believe things will get better. He is so intelligent, I can't believe he hasn't seen that his actions are harming both him and our family and any hope for a decent future for him. At this point, when we are no longer support and help him, I can only see him in assisted living because no employer would hire him or keep him employed based on current behavior. If anyone here is seeing progress with their kids I would love to hear about it. Knowing what helped would give me hope I desperately need right now.
      • TrenaLynn
        Aee77, I agree with you wholeheartedly! Raising a child with ODD is the most difficult thing I've ever done. It is a CONSTANT battle. My husband and I have done and continue to do everything possible to raise him so that when he is a grown man he will haveMore respect for not only authority figures within the community but also his peers. I've spent more nights sleepless racking my brain to find ways to support him than most parents could imagine. I have had every single one of his teachers and counselors on speed dial. Upon registering him for Kindergarten, I requested an SST immediately. I fought tooth and nail to acquire an IEP. We have had him in year round sports activities. He has been in private therapy since the age of 4. We also have an impressionable 5 year old, whom we we do everything in our power to protect from my 11 year old's rage, dismissivness, and disrespect. So, for someone to casually say that we as parents are probably not doing enough or not doing it right, leaves me feeling defeated.... In these forums, we should be doing what we can to offer support, guidance, and "hooray" for even small achievements and progress. It doesn't do anyone any good to be negative. We are fighting for our kids lives here!
        • Mysterious Mystique
          I feel a little better knowing im not the only one dealing with kids with odd. Im always up for new ideas. As a signal mom with 3 kids all with adhd and odd i find myself at a loss. It seem like im always trying to find things toMore work. They may work for a bit than i have to switch out my technique. I just want our home to run smother. Help please .
          • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport

            Mysterious Mystique 

            We are so glad that you are here.  You are definitely

            not alone in wanting a more peaceful household and trying to find strategies

            that will work with your kids.  We have numerous articles on parenting

            kids with ADHD (which you can find by clicking https://www.empoweringparents.com/article-categories/conditions-diagnoses/adhd-add/),

            as well as ODD (which you can find by clicking https://www.empoweringparents.com/article-categories/conditions-diagnoses/oppositional-defiant-disorder/). 

            Many families have been helped by using our parenting programs as well, such as

            the https://www.empoweringparents.com/product/total-transformation-program/ and the https://www.empoweringparents.com/product/the-oppositional-defiant-disorder-lifeline/.  Please let us know if you have any additional questions;

            take care.

      • HeatherWorrall

        Aee77 I want to thank everyone on this page for being honest. My son is 7 and has ODD. Control IS the issue, I don't care what anyone says and managing his behaviour on a daily basis is exhausting. On a 1-1, we cope fine, but when there are more people around with their own expectations of how one'ought' to deal with a difficult child, the fuse is lit. Plus my son does not cope well with relationships. He is a wonderfully loving child half of the time, although even that is over the top and he needs to control me. However, when his anger kicks in - which is very frequent, black is white, white is black and there is literally no point of reason to change his mind. He will dig at family members constantly when the mood takes him and we are all pretty good at keeping calm around him, despite the abuse he throws at us. Experience tells me that losing it with him just makes him rise to the challenge to win and control the argument. The original cause is lost and it ends up being about him coming out on top plain and simple. I shout, he shouts louder, then the threats come. Yesterday he told me he would kick me in the brains and cut his step dad's head off. 

        I don't rise to this any longer. I don't take it personally. I know this isn't him talking, it's the ODD. When he's in his calm, neutral state, he's incredibly mature, can reason it out [usually it's because I changed a plan, or enforced a plan, or changed a rule] and will always apologise sincerely, But it doesnt change the behaviour and it will happen again. I too have gone through the 'I'm a bad parent' phase - but I have raised his 2 wonderfully placid, polite and considerate brothers who are 20 and 15 and so I can't have got it that wrong. My two eldest sailed through school, never got into trouble - my youngest struggles with it, doesnt see the point in it, and falls out with friends on a daily basis. I'm regularly told by his teacher that his anger emerged at school. They don't understand him because he blows hot and cold so much. But that's who he is.

        I have tried everything to manage my son the best I can. I give him choices now, stacked in my favour, for pretty much everything - dinner, outings, behaviour management. It works well most of the time - he ends up doing what I wanted but he feels he has been in control of the situation. Ive learned not to be too heavy handed because that will cause a major eruption. Ive learned that he needs more love than is almost humanly possible to give. And like this article says, Ive learned to let go of the rope. It's hard. You need the patience of a saint quite honestly. And there seems no end. As the article says, we didn't choose this. All I can hope for is that with consistent management and enough love, my son will emerge a functioning adult. His father is the same, which is why we are not together any longer. He has been sacked from every job he's had because he can't maintain positive relationships. I fear the same may happen for my son. I'll do anything to ensure that is not the case.

        To all the parents of ODD children and adults - keep going, because there is no choice and we love our sons and daughters. Stop blaming yourself because it's not your fault, stay calm and show them love even when they are being unloveable.

        • ju
          the son have at home it's so different to the one everyone else sees, in front of anyone else her it's just a very lovely boy (12 years old) but at home i I mirror everything that had been said. Does anyone else have this, for this reason I'veMore not been believed for so many years about just how bad it is and i was always to be seen as exaggerating?
          • Heart Breaking

            Hi I have the same problem. He shows little things infront of people but it is considered usually behaviour for young kids trying to push boundaries. Which I understand their opinion but this is not really how he wants to react, he just try to keep it in and his behaviour at home is absolutely herendous.

            School also do not see the same boy we see at home. So sad. To love your child and have little positive communication because he chooses to battle everything out and control everything....it's so upsetting.

        • DrewNeal
          HeatherWorrall Aee77  My son is 7 and has ODD, everything that you described is exactly how our days go. My wife and I have gotten to the point that it is affecting our marriage we are trying to not let that happen. It is a struggle as we have a 4More year old tht wants to be just like his big brother. He is total opposite of our 7 year old and cant understand why his brother acts like that. We as parents are heavily involved in our kids lives. I actually have coached both my boys in baseball since they could play. We always go outside, ride the 4 wheeler, watch movies etc. No matter how involved you are as a parent, the ODD will always rear its ugly head sometimes. Ive lfearned to not be so stern with my 7 year old and use my wifes approach wich is giving choices etc. It seems to work a lot better.  Thank you for your post. It really shed some light on ODD as a whole. Take Care.
      • Rnsz

        I cannot thank you enough for sharing your experience. We have 2 boys-8 and 10.5-and while we will be meeting with the pediatrician today about the younger child (possible ADHD diagnosis), it was my eldest that came to the forefront of my mind when reading through the Vanderbilt Survey, seeing many similarities between his behavior and the behaviors associated with ODD. It's not the first time I've given pause to the possibility; only now at his present age and type of behavior, it's seems far more viable.

        I have struggled the past few years as the stresses of trying to parent two significantly different children (as their issues have emerged), and it's been difficult. It is extremely challenging to stay the course of being fair but firm and consistent in the face of such daily (moment to moment?!) challenges, especially in light of people who place a disproportionate amount of responsibility on the parents shoulders. As you rightly pointed out, our children are autonomous beings and that said, can make choices to go with or against our parenting. Our responsibility to to diligently pursue relevant ways to positively direct their behavior to the best of our ability-what they choose to do becomes their responsibility as well as consequences. It's painful to see them make some of the decisions they do, but they won't learn if not given the chance to fail in a safe environment. The double sided sword to that is, as you pointed out, finding the balance between caring for the one while protecting the others. Never easy.

        I constantly battle feeling guilty, worn out, frustrated, a parenting failure, etc. Your experience with your daughter hit so close to home, I nearly cried out of relief that my experience is not singular and that there's room to hope progress can be made. So my humble gratitude for sharing-I feel encouraged that while there will continue to be difficulties, I can rest confidently knowing I'm doing all I can to parent ALL of my kids to the best of my ability. Thanks.

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