Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) is a difficult condition to diagnose in any child, but may be even more difficult to diagnose in teens. After all, teenagers are defiant by nature. However, normal defiance does not interfere with a child's ability to learn and get along with others. For teens with ODD, almost every aspect of life becomes a struggle. And because ODD usually develops in earlier childhood, teenagers with the condition have often been dealing with symptoms for many years.
In terms of symptoms, ODD in teens is basically the same as ODD in younger children. The main difference is that teenagers are bigger, stronger and smarter, so they're capable of doing more damage. Parents and teachers of ODD teens should arm themselves with all available knowledge and resources about this condition in order to maintain a semblance of harmony. They should also keep in mind that once a fight has begun, an ODD teen won't easily give up. The key is to prevent an outburst of ODD in the first place, and to deflect any sign of combat the moment it rears its ugly head. If this doesn't work, be prepared to walk away. It's sometimes better to give up than to fight an unwinnable war.
Because parents of ODD kids often play a role in the development of the condition, they can and should be a part of treating it. Strong parenting styles -- both too lenient and too strict -- can contribute to the development of ODD. For this reason, it can be very helpful for parents to enroll in individual or group parenting courses and workshops that are designed to teach effective methods of discipline for teens. ODD research overwhelmingly supports the idea that therapy is most effective when it includes parents and other family members. So keep in mind that your ODD teen may be able to overcome this disorder independently, but the odds of success are significantly better with your help.
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