Kids With Oppositional Defiant Disorder Need "Unconventional" Parenting Strategies

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Kids with Oppositional Defiant Disorder are “unconventional,” and they need “unconventional” parenting strategies.

How do I know whether or not I have an “unconventional” child who will need to be parented using “unconventional” parenting strategies?

Please review the following statements. Are they true for you rarely, sometimes or frequently?

1. I have a hard time saying “no” to my child.

2. When I say “no’ to my child, “no” eventually becomes a “maybe” which eventually becomes a “yes”.

3. I have blamed myself for my child’s misbehavior.

4. I sometimes feel guilty about my parenting (e.g., “I haven’t done enough” or “I haven’t done a very good job”).

5. I often feel distant from my child.

6. I feel that my child has no appreciation for all I’ve done for him/her.

7. I try to be my kid’s “friend.”

8. I sometimes feel sorry for my child.

9. I have ‘gone off’ on my kid …then out of feelings of guilt, I let him have his way.

10. My kid uses guilt-trips on me a lot.

11. My kid usually gets his way in the long run.

12. He can be verbally/physically aggressive.

13. She refuses to do any chores.

14. He is very manipulative.

15. I feel guilty because of having to work and not being able to spend enough time with my kid.

16. I feel sorry for the kid because of divorce or an abandoning father/mother.

17. I don’t want my kids to have to go through what I went through.

18. My kid is in charge (the tail is wagging the dog).

19. My kid feels entitled to privileges, but not responsible for his actions.

20. She does not get along well with authority figures.

21. He believes the rules do not apply to him.

22. She is resentful about something that happened in the past.

23. He has attention-deficit problems too.

Do these phrases describe your kid’s behavior fairly accurately?

1. Often loses temper

2. Often argues with adults

3. Often actively defies or refuses to comply with adults’ requests or rules

4. Often deliberately annoys people

5. Often blames others for his or her mistakes or misbehavior

6. Is often touchy or easily annoyed by others

7. Is often angry and resentful

8. Is often spiteful and vindictive

9. Often bullies, threatens, or intimidates others

10. Often initiates physical fights

11. Has used a weapon that can cause serious physical harm to others

12. Physically cruel to animals

13. Physically cruel to people

14. Has stolen other’s property

15. Has broken into someone else’s house, building or car

16. Often lies to obtain goods or favors or to avoid work

17. Often stays out at night despite parental prohibitions

18. Has run away from home overnight without returning home for a lengthy period

19. Often skips school

If most of these statements are true for you and your child, then you will (a) benefit from using a set of “unconventional” parenting strategies, and (b) make a bad problem worse if you don’t.

Most parents who have kids with Oppositional Defiant Disorder are therapy-drunk. What I mean is their child has been in anger-management therapy for his violent outbursts, the family has had family therapy in order to develop conflict management skills, mom and dad have had couples therapy (or marital counseling) to resolve communication problems, mom has had individual psychotherapy for her depression. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. You don’t need any more therapy!

I find that when parents have a few simple parenting-tools in dealing with the out-of-control teen, they actually do a much better job of influencing him/her to change his behavior than a judge, probation officer, cop, counselor, psychotherapist, etc.

Can I give you an idea real quick? A change agent is someone who influences another person to make some improvements in his behavior. You can learn how to be the change agent — and you’ll do a much better job than others because you’re the kid’s parent, and you will see him/her nearly every day as long as he/she continues to live at your house. A therapist would only have about 12 hours of “influence time” if he/she were doing “family therapy” with you and your kid …you will have thousands of hours of influence time.

You managed your child up until he/she reached puberty. Then your kid fired you as the manager and said, “I’ll take over from here.” The best you can do now is to be re-hired as a consultant.

You can’t control your kid, but you can influence him or her. And if the parent fails to influence the child, the world will CONTROL the child — and the world is not concerned about what is right or fair.

Know that your child WILL resist any parenting changes you implement. For a while, it may seem as though things are getting worse. This is because your child is adjusting to the changes you make. But don’t be fooled!!! Your oppositional child will try very hard to make you believe that your parenting changes are not working and that your discipline has no effect.

No Half Measures! —

When parents implement “unconventional” parenting strategies, the change cycle looks something like this:

1. Initially, things get worse (i.e., your kid does not like your new parenting strategies and begins to act-out even more)

2. After a few weeks, problems between parent and child eventually occur less

frequently, but with the same intensity (e.g., instead of five heated arguments a week, there are only two)

3. Problems between parent and child occur less frequently AND with less

intensity (e.g., only one argument a week that is not very heated)

Will problems go away totally — and stay away forever? No. But problems are likely to occur with less frequency and severity over time. And you will be able to cope better due to a reduction in your stress-level.

You literally have the toughest job in the world, because you are helping with the development of a human being (your child). And humans are the most complex things on earth – more complicated than computers (after all, humans created computers), more complicated than spacecraft (after all, humans created space craft). And humans are especially complicated when they are teenagers with oppositional defiant tendencies. So this week when you begin to doubt yourself or feel discouraged or feel overwhelmed, remind yourself that this is not an easy job for anyone.

For more information on “unconventional” parenting strategies, please visit

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