Oppositional Defiance in Teens

How do you deal with defiance in teenagers? All teens can be defiant some of the time. It can be a sign of healthy development as teens work to assert their own identity, but what happens when it is the daily pattern?

For oppositional behavior to be a true mental health diagnosis, a child must show a pattern of symptoms of angry/irritable, argumentative/defiant behavior, or vindictiveness for at least six months. Children and adolescents with ODD may have trouble controlling their temper and are disobedient and defy authority figures. Teenagers who present with these symptoms often have a history of depression or anxiety that coincides with this disorder. Treatment and medication that addresses these issues can reduce disruptive behavior as well.

As you can imagine, individuals with oppositional defiance also have problems making or keeping friends, performing in school, and can’t hold on to a job. Big problems with their own emotional regulation create chaos in relationships inside and outside the home.

Oppositional Defiance Disorder

Parents can learn new skills to manage their child’s disruptive moods and behaviors. Modeling how to collaboratively solve problems and using natural consequences decreases arguments and fights.

Using harsh discipline or aggressive behavior toward teenagers causes the situation to be worse. Authoritarian styles of parenting make get some control of teen behavior in the short term but create more problems over the long term and may ruin relationships with teens as they grow into adulthood. It may push teens into social conduct problems that result in them having trouble with law enforcement and being removed by social services.

Professionals use a “Child Behavior Checklist” to screen for criteria that meet the Diagnostic Manual of Mental Disorders definition of Oppositional Defiance Disorder. Other comorbid disorders may include ADHD, Conduct Disorder, Depressive or Bipolar Disorder, Intellectual Disability, Intermittent Explosive Disorder, Language and Expressive Disorders, Social Phobia, and Anxiety.

Individual and group therapy for teenagers can be helpful. Parents can also learn new skills for managing oppositional behaviors. Learning about attachment styles and generational patterns of trauma can also be beneficial. Reading books on normal teen development is also recommended.

If you need more help with your teen or want to learn how to better parent, contact Ron Huxley today and schedule a session.