Controlling Teens as Single Parents

Control is a key factor when raising a teen with Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). Why? Well, to begin with, things seem to feel as if they’re out of control. Then, there’s your attempts to remain in control of your teen and the defiant behavior. And, lastly, your defiant teen is in a power struggle with you at all times, trying to be the one in control.

As a single parent, there are things you can control, and others you simply cannot control. You have control over providing your child with shelter, food and clothing. You also have control over how your actions show your teen ways to deal and cope with life challenges and conflicts, as well as consequences. But, your teen is personally in control over whether or not he/she learns from and applies those life lessons.

5 Things Parents Can and Cannot Control

  1. Parents can control whether their kids know their expectations or not. So, make sure your teen knows what’s expected of him/her, behavior-wise and attitude-wise. “I expect you to handle your anger without becoming violent.”
  2. Parents can control giving their teens opportunities to live up to those expectations. “Son, I’m okay with you walking away when you become angry with me in order to cool down. Turn on some music to calm down. Then, come back and talk to me again later.”
  3. Parents can control whether this children understand what consequences will be for specific actions that don’t meet expectations. “Son, now that you’re a teen, hitting your little sister is actually domestic violence. Do it again, and I’ll can the police on you. Neither of us wants you to go to jail. So, to avoid this, you need to handle your frustrations without resulting to physical attacks.
  4. As a parent, you can control your own behavior. Children tend to model the actions of the adults in their lives most. Therefore, you need to model the right way to deal with anger without becoming physically violent yourself. Practice those expectations you’ve put on your child, like walking away until you calm down.
  5. Parents cannot control the behavior of their teens. This is a major misconception for many people. In spite of what folks tend to think, you have no control over whether or not your child turns to physical abuse when he/she gets angry. You have no power when it comes to the arguments or the power struggles that comes with attempting to control your ODD teen. What you can control is the way you respond or react to your child’s behavior. So, stay in control. That’s the best way to handle the situation, as well as teach your teen the right way to handle frustration.

Judgment Does Not Help… Therapy Does

People whose kids don’t suffer from ODD tend to believe that you can control your ODD teen. They may even judge you, telling what you need to do to gain control. But, they have no idea how hard it is to manage an ODD child and his/her behavior. They have no idea how much shame and pain you suffer because of your child’s bad attitude and violent tendencies.

So, what’s the answer? You and your child need therapy. And, in many cases, especially for single parents, therapeutic programs work best. That way, the child is removed from the home, giving both the teen and the parent a “break” from each other. In the meantime, the child gets a quality education, along with 24-hour therapeutic care, including individualized therapy, group sessions, anger management programs, and much more. Single parents and teens with ODD heal better with professional therapeutic programs.

Single Parenting and Defiance in Teens

Oftentimes, teens tend to be a bit defiant by nature. But, there are those who seem to be more rebellious than usual. If this is your teen, he/she may be suffering from Oppositional Defiant Disorder, also known as ODD. These teens often thrive on pushing your buttons and creating conflict. Why? Well, it makes them feel powerful and in control.

Criteria for ODD

What’s the difference between a rebellious teenager and a teen with ODD? Well, the general rules are:

  1. Four or more of the following behaviors must exist
  2. Those behaviors must be present for six months or more

Common ODD Behaviors

  • Loses temper often
  • Argues with authority figures often
  • Defies rules on purpose, often
  • Annoys others on purpose, often
  • Blames others for bad behavior or mistakes often
  • Becomes annoyed easily be others often
  • Expresses resentment and anger often
  • Is vindictive and spiteful often

How to Handle Defiant Teens as Single Parents

It’s very common for parents of teens with ODD to explore professional help for their children. Parents can also benefit from therapeutic measure to help them handle the frustration and challenges created by their teens’ defiant behaviors.

The good news for parents is that most children grow out of ODD as they go into adulthood. But, until then, one of the biggest frustrations you’ll suffer as a single parent will be getting your teen to follow rules. This requires getting your teen to care about consequences. Here are three tips to help you accomplish this as a parent of an ODD teen:

  1. Rules must be clear and consistent. The rules need to be very clear and unquestionable. You must always be consistent with the rules, too. That means that no matter how tired or frustrated you become, the rules must remain the same. Some child behavioral specialists recommend writing down the rules. Then, you and your teen should sign them. That makes it much more difficult for your teen to manipulate or challenge the rules. The last thing you want to hear is, “I didn’t know.”
  2. Enforce rules and consequences consistently. Every single rule should be following at ALL times. And, you need to be consistent when it comes to enforcing the rules, as well as the consequences of not following them. Wiggle room has a way of causing any teen to push the limits. However, when a teen has ODD, they’ll continuously badger or attempt to bully you into altering the rules. After being challenged over and over, single parents can start to feel drained. So, put your foot down. Don’t compromise when it comes to the rules. In time, your teen will come to realize that the rules are set in stone.
  3. Only issue out 100% enforceable consequences. Take heed to this very important rule of thumb. Teens with ODD are extremely defiant and very sneaky. They’re the teens who will sneak out the window if you try to ground them. They thrive on taking control away from parents and using it for themselves. Keep this in mind when issuing out consequences you can’t enforce 100%. If not, you will most definitely lose power. In other words, telling your teen, “You can’t go outside for a week”, is probably unenforceable. So, every time he goes outside to head to school or Grandma’s house, he’ll feel powerful, as if he got over on that rule. So, choose your consequences, and your words, wisely when dealing with teens with ODD.

Teens with ODD have strengths, just like other teens. They’re often bright children filled with determination and creativity. Yet, they can be very rebellious, challenging you at every turn. This can be very tiring and frustrating for parents of ODD teens, who struggle to manage the negative behaviors.