Defiant Child Syndrome – Ways to Manage Defiant Children

Children are naturally active, curious and at times, disruptive. Their imagination is wild and they are carefree souls that yearn for more discoveries and realizations in life. At these stages of their lives, it is important that their parents or guardians care for them and provide for their needs well. Unmet needs at this stage could lead to various behavioral problems in the future as noted in the theories of Freud and Erikson. There are common childhood behavioral disorders that should be noted in order to prevent any problems in the future. One of those disorders is the defiant child syndrome, most commonly known in the psychological and medical field as the oppositional defiant disorder (ODD).

What is Oppositional Defiant Disorder?

The disorder is characterized by an unending outline of hostile, defiant and disobedient behavior towards authority figures, most of which distinctively exceed the borders of normal childhood behavior. This description of the oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) has been comprehensively provided by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Most children suffering from this disorder are often stubborn and usually angry at everyone.

Behavioral features and diagnosis

Oftentimes, people with Oppositional Defiant Disorder are diagnosed through the disorder’s behavioral features. For instance, the child is commonly seen in continuous rage, angry outbursts and recurrent temper tantrums. The child also has a high disregard for authority figures. They are typically seen annoying other people intentionally, blaming others instead of owning up to their mistakes and are exasperated with trivial things. They also tend to loathe people who do the things they abhor, often plotting some point of vengeance against them. They are also prone to questioning the rules place by authority figures and often mocking these same rules. Oftentimes, these children and adolescents are observed to be increasingly inflexible and defiant by parents compared to siblings.

Diagnosis of Defiant Child Syndrome doesn’t happen instantaneously. There are a lot of factors that need to be considered before diagnoses can be handed out. Initially, the children’s defiant behavior should take a toll on their social life and academic performance. For instance, their behavior to be rebellious against authority figures can precipitate a hindrance on learning social skills and doing well academically. It is also possible that the child’s defiant and aggressive behavior could lead him into situations that have potential to be life-threatening. Furthermore, this behavior should also be present for the past six months or so.

Treatment and prognosis

When the disorder is left untreated, roughly 50% of children will continue to manifest the typical behavioral features of the DSM-IV criteria for up to three years later in life. Half of the 50% oftentimes progress into more serious conduct disorders.

The initial treatment laid out for people with oppositional defiant disorder is the psychosocial treatment, which reinforces positive behaviors. Therapists often encourage the child to explore other emotions such as happiness and excitement instead of dwelling on anger and resentment. Other treatments of ODD also include social skills training, family therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy and psychotherapy. Oftentimes, the treatments for ODD are individualized, depending on what treatment the child will respond positively to the most.

Having a child with Defiant Child Syndrome can be difficult but you only need to find the appropriate resources to help you adjust to your child’s needs.


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