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.