Life with ODD

ODD – Oppositional Defiance Disorder. It is exactly as it sounds… but worse. ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is pretty easy to live with. When my son wiggles and can’t control his body or attention, we simply make him  run around somewhere safe or jump on his trampoline. We then do re-focusing activities and he’s usually OK. The ODD on the other hand, can really try your patience. Let me give you some brief examples of how a conversation with my son might go when his ODD is doing it’s best.

Parent: “Would you like an ice-cream?”

Child: “No. I would like some strawberry ice-cream in a cone please.”


Parent: “Did you put your shoes away?”

Child: “No.”

Parent: “You didn’t put your shoes away then?”

Child: “Oh. No, I didn’t put them away, I put them in the cupboard.”


Child: “Did you see that plane?!”

Parent: “Yeah! It was really cool!”

Child: “No, you didn’t see the one I’m talking about! You probably saw another one!”


Starting to see a pattern here? His favourite word is “NO”. He is an expert at arguing with you even when he doesn’t really mean to argue. Even when there is absolutely no reason to argue, and even when he is in a very happy mood and being very good and not wanting to cause an argument!

It’s the most frustrating thing when he replies “no” then repeats back exactly what you just said! Sometimes he realises he’s done it by our confused faces or our reactions, but most times he truly and honestly doesn’t have a clue he’s argued. We’ve even had this argument before.

Parent: “You are arguing sweetie. I think you agree with what I just said.”

Child: “No! I’m not arguing! I do agree with you.”

Parent: “What you just said is arguing.”

Child: “It’s NOT arguing! I am not arguing!”

Rather than getting in deeper, parents in the know back out at this point with a calm smile and just carry on with whatever we were doing. It’s pretty full on. He can actually argue us out of doing something nice for him sometimes.

Child: “Can you please play Lego with me?”

Parent: “Sure! What are we going to build today?”

Child: “No. We aren’t going to build something, you probably don’t really want to play with me. I’ll just build by myself for a while until you are ready.”

Parent: Previously, we would read a lot into that and get very confused and worried that we had sent him some kind of subliminal message that we really didn’t want to play right then! We may have re-engaged the argument by disputing that we had just said we did actually want to play, and the evidence was in fact right in front of him since we were sitting right down on the floor amongst the Lego awaiting instruction from the chief Lego Engineer! Now?

“Right. So. What piece would you like me to find first?” or if we are feeling naughty…

“OK. I won’t play if you don’t want me to. Call me when you are ready!”

Child: “But! You said you would play! Why aren’t you playing?”

Oh imagine how well this goes down with another 6 or 7 year old? Or even another 3-5 year old since he’s been doing that since he was 3?! Very confusing to say the least.

That’s life with ODD – Oppositional? Yep. Defiant? Yep. Disorderly? Definitely! 😉

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