With the right guidance most children will outgrow their defiant behavior. Unfortunately though, no matter how hard you try to help, some will not. Children with Oppositional Defiant Disorder, or ODD, are characterized by their defiance, hostility and disobedience. So what happens when you start to feel that your child’s defiant and hostile behavior isn’t just a phase? Or that her disobedience isn’t part of a learning process, but rather, an increasingly prevalent part of her character? The thought that you may have an adopted child with ODD is more than enough to shake your peace of mind.
An adopted child with ODD will often rebel, behave stubbornly, argue with adults and refuse to obey authority figures. They have angry outbursts and difficulty controlling their tempers. You do your best to understand your child’s youthful transgressions as a parent – after all, it wasn’t too long ago that you were a kid. But you also do your best to help your adopted child with ODD understand that becoming an adult means learning and moving on from your mistakes. An adopted child with ODD may resist your help with all her might, and as any parent can attest, defiant behavior can be exhausting and leave you feeling defeated.
Doing Your Best for Your Adopted Child with ODD: A True Story
“My kids were good so I couldn’t understand people who had kids that weren’t. If I saw you in the mall and your kids were yelling and screaming, I’d be like, ‘Why would you let your kids do that?’” one adoptive parent said. “But when we got [B, our child with ODD], I understood. I became one of those parents.”
The adoptive parent had plenty of experience with children and had developed a strong parenting sense, but those were of little use in counteracting her daughter’s ODD.
“I was humbled when we got [B]. We knew we were willing to do whatever it took to help her, but we didn’t know if we’d succeed or not. It’s been a tough ride.”
The adoptive parent told stories of black and white, stop and go, day and night, heave and ho. She and B were constantly pushing and pulling one another in different directions.
“And it’s always against [B’s] better judgment. I could walk into a room and ask [her] if she wants a hundred dollar bill and she’d say no. It’s unbelievable!” the adoptive parent said.
It’s no surprise that her daughter’s disorder led to conflict after conflict and all the stress that comes with household strife.
“I’ve been an advocate for kids, and I’ve helped other parents with their kids my whole life. Even with all that experience and kids of my own, I haven’t really been able to make the situation any better,” the adoptive parent said.
Doing Your Best for Your Adopted Child with ODD: Accepting the Reality
The time came when the adoptive parent began to realize that there was no turning back the clock on her daughter’s development. B had been exposed to drugs and alcohol in utero, which led to a number of difficulties down the road including her ODD.
These things were as much a part of who B was as the fact that she was a beautiful young high-school senior and a member of the family. In order to help her adopted child with ODD succeed, the adoptive parent altered her approach and set new standards for B.
“We just had to adjust our expectations. [B’s] room is awful, but I just don’t go in there. Every fiber of my being tells me that I’m the parent and that I should be able to expect my kid to keep her room to a standard that doesn’t make me shiver when I walk in, but I know it’s just not worth it. Having an unclean room isn’t going to make or break her,” the adoptive parent said.
At first B’s new standard caused some tension in the house.
“Having another child who’s 15 months younger made that very difficult because she doesn’t have the same issues as [B]. I expect more of her. She says it’s not fair, but it is. I tell her, ‘You’re capable, [B] is not. Thank God every day for that,’” the adoptive parent said.
Setting goals that B could reach had a positive effect in the end. Instead of aiming for college like her other children, the adoptive parent is currently helping B to focus on graduating high school.
The adoptive parent also set a number of more realistic goals for herself and began to reap the rewards.
“My daughter can get me totally crazed, but that’s what she wants – she loves drama. One of my goals is to avoid getting in a screaming match with her. You have to remain calm, and if you can’t then you as a parent need to walk away,” she said.
Doing Your Best for Your Adopted Child with ODD: Getting Help
Being flexible with her parenting style, remaining calm and setting realistic expectations for her daughter all helped the adoptive parent maintain a sense of order in her household. Talking to others about her adopted child with ODD helped her manage her doubts.
“It was helpful to have someone I could talk to who would understand me. Even though I never saw that it did [B] much good, it really helped me,” she said.
There’s no magic pill or hidden secret that can help anyone conquer their adopted child with ODD or help any parent cope with their child’s defiance more effectively. ODD is a complicated behavioral pattern that emerges for different reasons and remains for different lengths of time for different people. It’s important that you have the resources you need to maintain a comfortable living environment for your child as you work together through her behavioral difficulties.