Are you down with ODD?

Tiny at open house, 3rd grade.

What is ODD? Well… I’ll start with this…

A civilised society has laws, rules and an unwritten set of moral guidelines. These laws and rules are decreed because we are humans and are allowed by God to have free will. This is MY belief.

In other words… we (law abiding citizens of Earth) sometimes buck the system or bend the rules to suit our needs or wants. I believe that most adults understand the reasons for a state of law. The alternative is anarchy (a society without laws or rules) which, quite possibly, is the first form of government most children want. Yep. If you have children then you may be nodding in agreement at this moment.

For instance, if you have two children the exact same age, size and intelligence sitting across from each other and then set down one sparkly, noisy, little toy in between them it will become a race to own the toy and then NOT share the toy and assert dominance over the other child in a show of force that this world has never seen before! Okay, not quite that fierce and not all children are this way. I’m not going to say one way is better because all things have a place. We’ve come this far as human beings by having the, well… the human nature that we have.

Child Rearing

A nation has laws. A home has a parent or guardian (law bringer sounds good too) to instruct the rules and enforce the rules. Some children will share without being taught. Most children will share after being taught. I’m not going to delve too deep into child rearing here but it is important to note that having a child with ODD can make this process even more difficult or a better word may be, different. I wrote that MOST children will share when taught that they need to because… (insert list of everything that’s good about good things for yourself and others summed up in parenthesis here. Trying to keep it short and not a blog on why sharing is a good thing.) A child with ODD may have a more difficult issue with this on a natural level.

Rules suck

Tiny doesn’t like rules but only when they apply to her. She’s not mean (most times) and she enjoys helping people especially with her baby brother. She’s usually organized, tries to take care of her things and enforces any rules in place to her siblings or peers. But then… those those pesky rules creep in where she has to follow them. She doesn’t like rules if they get in the way of her wants. She’s amazingly clever too, so a simple “no” is never enough (No is always enough because she’s a child and should follow the rules. Keep reading and I’ll explain.) If you tell her no about having a cookie then she will become a world renowned defense attorney and plead her case. She keeps evidence and witnesses too. What I’ve learned is that ODD is about “fairness” (or “freedom”) or what the child views as fair. Adults understand well that life shouldn’t be seen as something that is fair or unfair. It’s not healthy to do so. That’s a fairly difficult conversation for an eight year old when her older brother Auggie (a few years older) gets to do something and she can’t. The other issue is that she didn’t want to follow the rule to begin with but has, thank God, really worked on recognizing when she’s being defiant. That doesn’t mean she immediately begins following the rules.

Free Spirit or Law Breaker?

A few rules she really dislikes and fights to not follow are: Bedtime, brushing teeth, finishing her food, where to sit, what to wear, what to watch, sharing, chores and going to school. Oddly enough, she usually does her homework. She fights these rules and presents every reason why she shouldn’t follow them and then presents every excuse when she’s caught breaking them. Yes, she does this on purpose. She has ODD. It is her nature to be defiant. As I wrote earlier, I’m thankful she’s beginning to recognize that bucking every rule isn’t healthy.

Reaction and Moving Forward

The only thing I have figured out is what happened yesterday. I may be wrong but I attempt to be fluid in my decisions. There are moments where no is just that. Then there are moments where I change my mind or she changes my mind. We attempt to have a conversation about it and why the answer changed or did not. Most times she accepts the answer and when she doesn’t it’s noticed by those around her.

*I’m never going to be to personal on here and at some point, when they’re teenagers or young adults I don’t want to have embarrassed them unjustly.

One thing that Tiny enjoys above everything else (seemingly) is making and playing with slime. She’s very knowledgeable about the different types and how to make them stretchy or wet or good for bubbles and so on. This is her therapy. It’s her moment of meditation so I essentially put no limits on it. Is that right? Maybe. What I’m certain of is that even though a child is five, three, nine or whichever age you choose, they are still human. It so often gets overlooked that children have anxiety, depression, wants, fears or desires. They have few options of “mental escape” because, unlike adults, they can’t get into a car and drive away or eat a whole quart of icecream or say NO wherever they choose or quit school at any time or…

ODD makes their brain question anything that isn’t what they deem free. It could be viewed as anarchy or chaotic when truly, it’s freedom they desire. As a parent, it is sometimes difficult to explain why some rules or laws exist especially if your child is naturally defiant to them.

What has been helping

For a few weeks now, with Tiny and Auggie, I’ve been speaking to them about how it feels when they’re obsessed or angry or overly sad about something. I ask them what they’re feeling and does it feel good or happy. Then, I explain that they don’t have to linger in that state and can move on to something else. Now, when they get into they’re emotions and feelings it’s for shorter times. No one wants to feel that yucky weight on them especially if a couple of actions can change it. This has been helping. It’s not perfect or one hundred percent effective but it has helped.

Thank you for reading. I’m trying to get back to a weekly schedule if my mind permits. God bless and I hope you have enough.

Just Jared

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