How to Parent an ODD Teenager

If your teenager has ODD, he/she has an attitude which yells, “Who cares?!?” These are not your typical teens because they have no idea how to not test the limits and cross certain lines. ODD teenagers are oppositional and defiant, breaking rules every single day. The symptoms of ODD can leave parents feeling exhausted and overwhelmed.

Your teen seems to thrive on the constant battles for control and chaos caused by negative behavior. Oftentimes, she/he will create issues where none exist simply because of boredom or as a reaction to having a bad day. Your child stays determined to push your bottoms simply as a means of feeling in control and powerful. But, just like any good parent, you love your child. So, you refuse to give up. Yet, the struggle often leaves you feeling ashamed, embarrassed, guilty and, of course, vulnerable to your teen’s ODD-related behaviors.

Setting Rules and Consequences for ODD Teens

Most parents of teens with ODD have two main issues in common:

  • Getting their ODD teens to follow rules and regulations
  • Getting their trouble teens to actually care about punishments and suffering consequences

In an effort to help you understand how to parent an ODD teenager, we’re sharing three suggestions:

  1. Be Clear – Teens can be manipulative by nature. But, throw in ODD and the manipulation can be magnified. That’s why we suggest that you write down the rules you expect your teen to follow. Then, both of you should sit down and go over the rules together, and sign them as well. That way, your teen will have a harder time into manipulating you into believing a rule wasn’t clear.
  2. Be Consistent – Don’t give your teen “chances” when it comes to following the rules. Be consistent when it comes to enforcing rules, as well as punishments and consequences. ODD teens love the feeling of control that comes with bullying you. So, don’t give your teen the power to badger you into compromising, bending or changing rules. If you do, he/she will challenge you repeatedly.
  3. 100% Enforceable Consequences Only – This is extremely important when raising a very defiant teenager. An ODD teen will sneak, lie and run away… all sorts of things in order to avoid having to obey rules. So, make sure that your consequences are always 100% enforceable in order to keep your credibility.
    1. For example, if you threaten to take away your teen’s cell phone for a specific behavior, do it. Just keep in mind that you have to remain a step ahead of your teen. Simply hiding it in your purse may just cause her/him to sneak it out when you’re not looking.
    2. You may need to remove and hide the battery, hide the phone in the trunk of your car or ask a neighbor to hold the phone. And, if your teen decides to borrow a friend’s cell phone, there should already be consequences established for that as well. is here to help answer any question you may have about finding the right treatment options for your teen.

To start from the beginning of our ODD awareness blog series click here.

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