It’s not uncommon for kids to go through a period where they exhibit moodiness or defiant behaviors. The term “terrible twos” or the early teen years are typically known as the most challenging years for parents and their child’s behaviors. However, these behaviors could be signs of an underlying behavioral disorder.
Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) affects up to 16 percent of children and teens. If your child’s behaviors raise concern on whether there may be an underlying condition, understand that behavioral disorders are common in children. It is helpful to know the symptoms and how to seek treatment.
What Is Oppositional Defiant Disorder?
Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) is a behavioral disorder often diagnosed during childhood. There is no known cause of what causes ODD, but there are theories about how it may develop. A child with ODD is defiant, uncooperative, and aggressive towards siblings, peers, authority figures, and parents.
ODD is more common in boys during their childhood years. Symptoms typically develop and become noticeable between the ages of 6 to 8.
Signs Your Teen May Have ODD
The symptoms of ODD can happen in children who do not have this disorder. The defining aspect of whether or not it is ODD is the frequency of how often the child displays these symptoms. It will also interfere with daily routine and activities. These behaviors will occur at home with parents or siblings and at school with teachers and other classmates.
Symptoms may include:
- Blaming others for their own wrongdoings
- Combative with adults and authority figures
- Exhibiting a short temper
- Disobeying rules, demands, and requests
- Refusing to do what is asked of them
- Throwing excessive temper tantrums
- Speaking harshly or aggressive to others
- Seeking revenge, mocking, or being vindictive towards others
These symptoms can occur naturally or if a child is experiencing budding hormones. It is important to speak to your pediatrician or pediatric mental health professional for a proper diagnosis.
While the causes of ODD are not entirely understood, there are risk factors. Risk factors include:
- Mood Disorders: Improper functioning of neurotransmitters can influence ODD symptoms and lead to other disorders. ADHD, mood disorders, anxiety disorders, and personality disorders may influence ODD.
- Family Challenges: The environment a child grows up in impacts their behavior. Common challenges include inconsistency in whether parents are present or not, emotional instability, and substance abuse.
- Genetics: Adolescents can also have ODD if they have a family history of other mental health disorders. For example, if ADHD or mood disorders run in the family, chances are your child can develop ODD.
- Emotional Regulation: Temperament also can affect whether a child develops this disorder. If a child struggles with emotional regulation and controlling their behaviors, it can manifest into ODD.
ODD rarely occurs as the only disorder in adolescents. Another co-disorder that is common in individuals with ODD is substance use disorder.
Co-occurring ODD and SUD
Alcohol and drug use are common among teens who have ODD. Drugs and alcohol are often a means to cope with underlying issues, and it can lead to substance abuse which can exacerbate the symptoms of ODD.
Teens may also use substances to defy parents or authority figures. If they know that the parents do not tolerate substance use, they may use substances to break the rules.
Treatment Options for ODD and SUD
It can be tricky to know how to approach treatment options for ODD or if the behaviors are the result of ODD. The key defining points are the frequency of the behaviors and whether they disrupt their daily living. When talking to your child, they won’t see their behaviors as an issue or their fault but instead blame others. It is why you must speak up and describe behaviors to their pediatrician or mental health professional. Seeking a qualified professional will help diagnose and find treatment for your child.
Early diagnosis and treatment are essential for getting this disorder under control. When looking for diagnosis and treatment, contact a psychologist or psychiatrist that specializes in behavioral disorders. They will also be able to assess and diagnose any other co-occurring disorders such as substance abuse. Treatment options for ODD and SUD include:
- Individual and Family Therapy
- Parent training and Parent-child Interaction Therapy
- Social skills training
- Lifestyle changes
If you are concerned that your child may have ODD or a substance use disorder, talk to their pediatrician or mental health professional right away. Seeking help today will provide your teen the best chances to manage their mental health and substance use disorders.
If you believe your teen may be struggling with ODD, substance use, or other co-occurring disorders, know that help is available. Clearfork Academy is a treatment facility dedicated to helping teenage boys overcome drug use and co-occurring disorders. Our facility resides on a charming ranch overlooking Eagle Mountain Lake in Fort Worth, Texas. We offer a variety of therapeutic programs that we specialize in to meet your child’s specific needs. The staff at Clearfork are highly trained and can offer the highest and dedicated quality of care. As a parent, being involved in your child’s recovery is essential to helping them maintain sobriety and let them know they have support from the ones they love. Know that you and your teen do not have to go it alone. If you are looking for a safe and caring treatment facility for your teen, Contact Clearfork Academy today by calling (888) 966-8604.