Defiant children are definitely not for the meek. Although there are many characteristics that define a defiant child, probably the one that makes your defiant child hardest to deal with is his incredible level of persistence.
For example, a typical child when told no would certainly argue with you, or otherwise attempt to persuade you to change your mind. They might bring up the issue two, three, or maybe even seven or eight times. After that, most children will give up, unless it concerns an issue especially important to them.
Children who are ODD, however, not only don’t give up after the seventh, eighth, or tenth time, they are able to maintain the same level of energy at the thirtieth request as they had at the first. In fact, many ODD children, after they see their request has been denied, will deliberately up the ante by yelling, threatening, or worse. Many parents simply give up just so they can maintain their sanity.
A second characteristic of children with ODD is their seeming inability to learn from their actions. Defiant children seem oblivious to most punishments, whether they are smaller punishments like time-out, or larger ones like being grounded for a month. To the frustrated parent, they appear to be willing to “do the time.” After the punishment ends, they often go right back to repeating the same behavior that got them into trouble only a day (or even a few hours) ago.
A third characteristic is the ODD child’s tendency to seek excitement. The defiant child often complains of being bored. Some have even admitted to picking fights with parents or siblings just so they have a chance to liven up things a bit. They also tend to engage in risky behaviors in an attempt to satisfy their need for stimulation, which can lead to illegal or otherwise dangerous activities.
These three characteristics are the main reasons why ODD children not only are so challenging for parents and other caretakers, but they also explain why defiant children are at such a high risk for criminal behavior.
The question is, what can parents do in order to help their ODD child accept their authority, and learn from consequences? Stay tuned for Part 2, where I’ll discuss tactics you can use that directly address these issues.