Treatment for ODD is centered on behavioral therapy, but specific treatment for ODD depends on the age of the child, his or her level of impairment and any coexisting conditions he or she may have. It also depends on the willingness of parents to engage in meaningful therapy with the child, as this is often an integral part of treatment. The basic goal of ODD therapy is to guide patients through the process of "unlearning" bad behavior and relearning effective ways of relating to others. This almost always includes individual psychotherapy for the child as well as individual and group therapy for his or her parents.
The goal of cognitive behavioral therapy is to teach children to understand and redirect their negative feelings and to reestablish positive associations with authority figures. Social skills training for the child can also be helpful, as it improves a child's ability to relate to others and remain in control of aggressive emotions. Each of these strategies is also very helpful at restoring the parent-child bond.
Parental involvement in ODD therapy is a very important component of treatment for ODD. Mothers and fathers of ODD patients will be encouraged to take parent-training courses and participate in parent-child interaction therapy and/or collaborative problem solving. These techniques are invaluable to parents dealing with an ODD child and are considered critical to the long-term recovery of the ODD child.
In addition to behavioral therapies, treatment for ODD may also include medication in cases where ODD coexists with other conditions, such as ADHD. For example, stimulant medications used to treat ADHD may also be effective at reducing oppositional symptoms [source: American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry].
There are also simple, real-life strategies for managing an ODD kid, including knowing when to pick your battles. The key is remembering that children with ODD are driven by the need to engage in combat. They care less about the reasons for or consequences of the fight. For them, the important thing is to push the buttons of their authority figure. This is why ODD can be a serious obstacle to succeeding in school. Parents of ODD kids should work with their child's teacher to incorporate ODD management strategies during the school day. Read on to learn more about coping with ODD in the classroom.