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Facing Behavioural Problems


Always Getting Into Trouble?

You may have heard of the disorder called, Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) and wondered what it means.  Join the club!  The ‘symptoms’ of ODD seem to only describe bad behaviour and this doesn’t really give you any ideas about where it comes from, or why you might feel angry or have a hard time following rules. That doesn’t leave you or your family with many ideas for dealing with those behaviours.

There is, however, increasing evidence that oppositional and defiant behaviour does not occur all by itself. In other words, the research that says, you aren't simply choosing to be bad, is growing.  Many times children have other disorders and these symptoms are either being mistaken for brattiness or are setting the stage for oppositional and defiant behaviours to appear.  If this is true, then you might expect that once these other disorders are properly recognized, managed and treated, the bad behaviour should go away on its own and this is exactly what some researchers and clinicians are beginning to find.

Many of these other disorders that set the stage for ODD are thought of as not being able to stop yourself – or problems with “putting on the brakes.” For example, you may have a hard time stopping your impulses, or your attention from wandering, or your awareness of every bit of sensory information in a situation. Being able to stop what you are doing when someone demands that you do something else, without getting angry about it, requires good brakes too.  Learning problems may also set the stage for ODD, especially for people who may be getting in trouble at school.

How to Help Yourself

So what can you do to help prevent yourself from getting into trouble?  First of all, think about what could be getting in your way of doing well. Then talk to someone you trust and see if they can help you come up with ideas to help you stop your impulses, hold your attention better or cope with difficult feelings.  If you’ve tried asking someone for help and you still keep getting into trouble, ask your parents about seeing a mental health professional. The mental health professional can help you figure out if you have another disorder or learning problems that may be making it hard for you to do better. Once the problem is identified, they can help teach you techniques to cope better.

This content was used with permission from Dr. Duncan McKinlay.

Additional Resources

For more information on behavior disorders, check out:




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