KNOW SOME ODDS? CHILDREN, STUDENTS, EMPLOYEES WHO ALWAYS SAY “NO?” ODDs often drive parents, teachers, and bosses crazy. Guess what? Cranky Old Lady things that is why Shrinks have a name for those who never say yes–Oppositional Defiant Disorder. It is a disorder because it rules the person’s life, they can rarely if ever say yes. As a boss, praise an ODD and they will often start putting themselves down. As a parent, offer to give a higher allowance and the child will refuse. Why? Because it is winning the will struggle that matters.
Not all people and in fact very few are ODDs. Power leaders, however, can learn a great deal about handling negative behavior in general by understanding when disobedience becomes a disorder. We all engage in ODD behaviors from time to time. Some more than others.
Think about it? Do you like always being told what to do? Some enjoy the comfort of not having to make decisions, but most do not want to be micromanaged. That is why one of the big disputes between Cranky Old Folk arises when riding in a car. According to a poll among my more aged friends, back seat driving drives each crazy and lead to more fights than sex and money. Anyway, back to the topic.
Here is a quick symptom list describing ODD: Loses temper, argues with adults, refuses to do what is asked, often enjoys being disobedient, annoys others on purpose, is touchy and irritable, blames others, seems spiteful, seems to seek revenge. Does not break the law.
Problem: As with so many labels, these symptoms are often a matter of judgement. Almost everyone at one time or another shows such symptoms. Many of us beak the law. If you drive, I bet my Cranky Old Lady’s last hair, you have exceeded the speed limit or failed to stop or yield when the law says you must. S
Be warned, don’t practice medicine without a license. Don’t try to diagnosis self, family, friends, students, staff. The professionals have a hard enough time making agreeing on psychiatric labels.
Instead learn how to help. Here is information you might find helpful:
Understand what makes someone ODD. Three things seem to be involved. As a child, the person only got attention when s/he was doing something wrong. This can happen in large families or in families suffering from a great deal of stress. Also happens because some families worry praise can spoil a child or youth, while other families take good behavior for granted.
A very important reason is disobeying feels powerful and often the person feels powerless, or felt so as a child. Some who show this disorder grew up in violent homes, oinally, youth with this disorder have experienced domestic violence, had problems in school or lived in lots of different homes.
HOW TO HANDLE AN ODD CHILD OR ADULT This is behavior that can be changed. What follows applies to all negative behaviors whether at home, school, or the workplace. The overall strategy is to avoid all power struggles and arguments. An ODD child or adult gets jazzed up and juiced by the fight. The longer s/he can keep from obeying, the more powerful s/he feels.
Specific ways to cut down on negative behaviors include:
- The child or adult must be able to do what is asked. Many children having problems in school have learning disabilities that make it impossible to do what is asked. We would never ask a blind person to read the printed page. Children are often asked to do what they cannot do. The same is true of employees. Know the other person’s abilities.
- Rules must be clear, written down, and posted where every one can see.
- Punishments must be clear and not leave any room for arguing.
- The authority figure must be straight. If the adults don’t obey rules, lie, con, bully, fight or steal, so will those they are trying to lead.
- Strengths must be acknowledged.
- A reward system for good behavior is as important as punishments for unacceptable behaviors.
- A culture of obedience matters. One of the difficulties currently facing many parents, teachers, and bosses is the general encouragement in all kinds of media to protray parents, teachers, and bosses as either stupid, mean, or dishonest.
- All involved need to handle anger and resentment properly.
- Self-soothing skills are also helpful.
- Consistency matters. All rules, rewards, and punishments must apply to all, all the time and every time.
STAYING STRONG TIP: As frustrating as it can be to deal with an ODD, one thing helps. The ODDs tell you what is real about your behavior. This is particularly true for employees. Listening to dissenting voices is not always easy, but is usually more productive than those who always agree with you.
If children did not rebel humans would probably still be sitting in a tree, shivering from the cold, and getting rained or snowed on; mankind’s rebellious children showed us how to climb down, use fire, take advantage of caves.
Katherine Gordy Levine, American author
Share, like, and care. Help me, yourself, and others get and stay strong.