Ability to Love, Impulse Control, Moral Reasoning
Parenting the At Risk Child

Oppositional Defiant Disorder and the Inner Triangle

About a third of children with ADHD can also be diagnosed with Oppositional Defiant Disorder or ODD. The condition is thought to affect up to 10 per cent of school aged children. The disorder is diagnosed when children show "a pattern of negativistic, hostile, and defiant behavior lasting at least 6 months, during which four (or more) of the following are present:

Often loses temper

Often argues with adults

Often actively defies or refuses to comply with adults requests or rules

Often deliberately annoys people

Often blames others for his or her mistakes or misbehavior

Is often touchy or easily annoyed by others

Is often angry and resentful

Is often spiteful or vindictive"

Children with ODD typically have poor impulse control. The real source of the disorder is the child's inability to control the impulses that arise from his drive for social dominance. This drive causes him to always want to be the boss and to assert power over other people. The desire for power over others causes these children to be manipulative and to enjoy provoking others.


If you think your child has ODD please seek a mental health evaluation by a competent professional.

Children with ODD are very hard to live with! There are numerous web sites and parenting programs that claim to be able to help parents with ODD kids turn them into compliant children. Remember that children with ODD likely have a certain temperament that may get easier with the right parenting, but is unlikely to totally transform.

Just what is the right parenting approach to use with a child with ODD? First, consider the inner triangle. If you work on increasing your child's enjoyment of love and his ability to love, he will naturally become more respectful and less domineering. Love reduces the drive for social dominance. Teach your child to love by spending lots of quality time with him. Try to find constructive activities he likes that you can do together.

Find ways to redirect your child's need for power into something constructive. The best outlet for this need for power is to become good at doing things or to develop competency. Have your child participate in athletics, learn music, enjoy art or some other hobby. Then, he can be competitve rather than just bossy.

If you respond to your child's challenges to your authority by becoming aggressive (using yelling and spanking) and power assertive, his drive for social dominance will likely be further stimulated. He will become more defiant the more you try to directly assert power over him. To put it bluntly, It is not possible to beat him into submission! Assuming the role of teacher is the best way to assert power over a child with ODD.

Children with ODD do need firm limits, enforced through consequences. The purpose of these limits is to teach impulse control. If children are able to develop better impulse control they will be less overcome by the basic drives.

Just Like His Father? AND The Child Well-Being Workbook by Liane J. Leedom, M.D. are a complete program designed to develop your ODD child's Ability to Love, Impulse Control, and Moral Reasoning!

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