Child psychologists at Johannesburg’s Sandton Psychology Centre are often consulted by worried parents who are concerned about their child’s disruptive behaviour. Sometimes, what emerges is a pattern of non-compliant conduct which is stressful for the entire family. Not all unruly children fit the profile of the oppositional defiant child, and the symptoms must be viewed with caution. As is the case with many psychological disorders one has to rule out other aspects or syndromes is order to make a proper diagnosis. Once the correct diagnosis is made child psychologists will assist with psychotherapy (in the form of play therapy) and behaviour management. Other treatment for Oppositional Defiant Disorder may also include specialized parent training, family therapy, structured group therapy, and school- and home- based contingency management programs.
The DSM-1V lists the essential features of Oppositional Defiant Disorder as a “recurrent pattern of negativistic, defiant, disobedient, and hostile behaviour toward authority figures” that persists for at least 6 months and is characterised by at least four of the following behaviours:
- Loses temper often and for no good reason
- Argumentative with adults
- Defies or point blank refuses to comply with what adults have requested
- Does things deliberately in order to annoy and irritate others
- Does not take responsibility and blames other’s for their own mistakes or wrongdoing
- Is easily irritated and annoyed by others – everybody bugs him/her
- Demonstrates anger and is filled with resentment
- Is often spiteful and vindictive
The Oppositional Defiant Child is not a happy child. In addition to the aforementioned traits they also struggle with social interaction and are often depressed and exhibit low self-esteem. Furthermore, they tend to not do well at school academically as they have a short attention span and a general lack of motivation. These children also have frequent mood swings and low frustration tolerance.