There are children who submit to authority and there are children who defy authority when the need arises; then there are children who have no sense of authority. If your kid is consistent in challenging the authority of parents at home and that of teachers at school, then there is a good chance that your kid falls into the third category. Though many varied reasons can be responsible for sowing the seeds of defiance in children, it is also quite possible that your child might be suffering from Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD).
OD’ing on ODD harmful
Children with ODD are known to be stubborn, disrespectful of authority, and constantly testing parents/teachers on purpose. These children frequently lose their temper which leads to heated arguments and they also give less importance to rules and regulations set for them. Kids with ODD are also known to be manipulative to the extent of pitching people against each another. Credible studies suggest ODD to be the most common psychiatric problem among children of today. According to an estimate 2%-16% of children and teens have ODD.
A teen with ODD will procrastinate habitually or even claim to forget things and not hear something said to them by another person. Look out for these signs!
What not to do
For parents/teachers: Do not make bargaining a habit when dealing with the child. Instead of promising to send the kid to movies once his/her room is cleaned up, it is easier to make him/her understand the idea of consequences arising due to the child’s actions. Don’t forget to praise them for a job well done.
Apart from this, don’t allow teens to manipulate you into doing something that you will regret doing in the end, and this hold true for both parents and teachers. It is important not to get caught up in the emotional games of ODD children. Instead the focus should remain on the topic at hand and how objectivity can be maintained.
What to do
For parents: Limit the kids’ television and internet time and stick to the timetable. This allows children to spend time with their thoughts and unearth hidden potential locked up inside him/her.
For parents/teachers: Once the rules for the desired decorum are set, make it a point to follow them through under all circumstances. Changing the game plan midway will only confuse your ODD teen.
For parents/teachers: When the need to punish the child arises, provide them with solid reasons as to why it had to come to this. Be transparent in your communication with teens.
Performance at school
You should stress upon your children that they will be responsible for their behavior and performance at school. Though you can assist your teen with their work and problems it is important to let the child finish the job to give them a slight taste of responsibility.
If your teen is proving difficult for teachers and staff at school, arrange for a meeting with the principal and teachers concerned to discuss the case with them. Keep the focus on the kid and how he/she can be reformed to learn important life lessons at an early age.
The last word
The idea of disciplining your kids is very appealing in essence, but when the same is put to practical use, the results can be destructive. There is no need to come down hard on critical thinkers, rebels and visionaries of tomorrow. Instead we should encourage creativity and individual thinking in children while constantly reminding them of the rule of ‘every action has an equal and opposite reaction’.