Oppositional provocative disorder: what it is and how to deal with it
The oppositional defiant disorder is a problem that affects some children and teenagers.
Those who suffer from this disorder are stubborn, irritable, disobedient and have a difficult character. However, it does not actually violate other people’s rights, and is not physically aggressive.
This problem is sometimes considered a milder form of behavioral disorder , but these two ailments have precise differences: compared to opposing boys and children who have PDO, a child or boy who suffers from behavioral disorder seems to have no conscience, and violates the rights of others, sometimes without even showing signs of irritation.
A diagnosis of oppositional provocative disorder can only be given if the typical behaviors of this problem persist for more than 6 months, and are so serious that they interfere with the social and school (or work) life of those affected.
To date, it is not known what the DOP causes, but in the opinion of many it is more frequent among young people who live together with families with adults who often have heated discussions.
It is a condition that could be the indicator of an even more serious ailment, and therefore may require further investigation, in order to intervene in the most appropriate way.
Symptoms of oppositional provocative disorder
Symptoms of oppositional provocative disorder generally manifest themselves from the period that includes kindergarten to middle school. But it can also affect older children.
Usually, the PDO is found at the age of 6, and over time it can become something different and perhaps even more serious: for example, it could turn into conduct disorder (DC), which tends to occur around 9 years.
In any case, oppositional provocative disorder is a type of negativistic, provocative and hostile behavior lasting at least 6 months, during which at least 4 symptoms among those listed below occur frequently:
- arguing with adults
- be angry
- refuse to respect the rules imposed by adults
- to irritate people voluntarily
- accuse other people of their mistakes and behaviors
- be very susceptible and easily irritable
- be angry and resentful
- be spiteful and vindictive.
The anomaly of the behavior of those who have the PDO causes a compromise in the social, school or work life of the latter.
In order for the PDO diagnosis to be valid, the behaviors that PDO owners put into practice do not only occur during the course of a mood disorder or psychotic disorder.
Furthermore, to be diagnosed with PDO, the possibility that the young person suffers from conduct disorder must be excluded. And if you’re 18 or older, you don’t have to have antisocial personality disorder.
DOP risk factors
The exact causes that provoke the oppositional provocative disorder are not yet known , but among the risk factors that could favor the onset of this problem in a child or boy there are:
- Being abused or neglected.
- A discipline that is too rigid and severe, or inconsistent.
- A lack of adult supervision.
- Parents who have suffered from ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), behavior problems, or PDO in turn.
- Problems in the family.
- Changes that cause stress, and that negatively affect the child’s or boy’s sense of consistency. Such situations can increase the risk of the child or boy taking disruptive behavior (problematic, destructive, counterproductive and uncontrolled behavior).
The manifestations of oppositional provocative disorder change according to the age of the person, and the severity of the disorder itself.
In males, the disorder prevails most among those who, in preschool age, have problematic behaviors or have very intense motor activity.
In school age, those with PDO can have low self-esteem, bad mood, poor tolerance to frustration, a tendency to swear, and use tobacco, alcohol and drugs. In addition, he often has conflicts with teachers, parents and peers.
This disorder can occur in children and young people with too lecherous, or excessively severe and rigid parents. There are also very frequent cases in which children and young people with PDO have a troubled history, due to the fact that they have been cared for by several people who have followed each other from time to time.
Those with oppositional provocative disorder may also have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Furthermore, the PDO is a problem that also falls within the learning and communication disorders.
Doctors diagnose PDO on the basis of certain frequent symptoms and behaviors that a child or boy assumes for a period of at least 6 months.
In the event that doctors have valid reasons to suspect the presence of an oppositional provocative disorder , they make careful assessments to check for any signs of depression, such as lack of appetite or sleep disturbances, and anxiety.
Depression and anxiety in children and adolescents can indeed cause some symptoms similar to those of oppositional provocative disorder . For example, one of the major symptoms of depression is irritability. And two of the symptoms that can manifest in case of extreme anxiety, are disobedience and provocative behavior.
In addition, doctors must also differentiate these symptoms from those of ADHD, since in some cases they can be very similar.
Age and gender specific characteristics of the PDO
Passive oppositional behavior is very common in children (preschoolers) and adolescents, so caution should be used in diagnosing oppositional provocative disorder and not rushing to judgment.
PDO is more frequent in males in the prepubertal period, but the percentages of occurrence after puberty are likely to be the same as in females.
Generally the symptoms between males and females are similar, except for the fact that in males they can be more persistent, and also for the fact that males can have a more tendency towards comparison.
This disorder usually becomes evident before 8 years of age, and not later than the teenage period. Symptoms often begin to occur within the home environment, but over time they can also occur in other contexts.
The PDO and families
According to research, children and young people with oppositional provocative disorder live in families in which at least one parent has had or still has problems such as: mood disorder, PDO, conduct disorder, antisocial personality disorder, deficiency disorder attention and hyperactivity, or substance-related disorder.
Furthermore, some studies suggest that mothers with a depressive disorder have a better chance of having children with PDO, although it is not yet clear whether and to what extent the depression of mothers can affect the oppositional behavior of the children, or if and how much the PDO of children can have a bearing on mothers’ depression.
Another relevant finding is that oppositional provocative disorder is more frequent in families where there is a rather serious marital disagreement.
Treatment of oppositional provocative disorder
Do you recover from oppositional provocative disorder ? The disorder can be treated through some behavior management techniques. These techniques are very scrupulous, and among other things they provide adequate rewards every time a child or boy with DOP assumes adequate behavior.
Parents and teachers also play a role in these techniques, and can be educated to adopt them by contacting the specialist who takes care of the child.
Furthermore, in order to improve the social skills of those suffering from oppositional provocative disorder , it is possible to resort to group therapies.
Sometimes the medications used to combat anxiety and depression can help improve the conditions of those with the disorder considered here.
It must also be said that without treatment most of the young people who suffer from this disorder improve their condition over the years. However, in the case of alleged PDO it is always better to consult a specialist.
Educational strategies for teachers with pupils with PDO
School plays a very important role in the growth process of children and adolescents. A teacher who knows good educational strategies for oppositional provocative disorder can be of great help for the social reintegration of a pupil suffering from this problem.
Within a school environment, a pupil with the PDO could:
- refuse to follow lessons and / or do homework
- distracting his classmates during class
- not to respect the rules of social coexistence.
For this reason, the teacher may find himself in a complex situation to manage, especially when there is a lack of specialized personnel capable of directing him towards the most suitable educational strategies for the case.
What should a teacher do when he has a student with the PDO in class? Here is a list of useful tips, which relate precisely to the issue of oppositional provocative disorder strategies , and are based on the opinions of professionals:
- Avoid authoritarian and rigid attitudes: they can repress wrong behavior immediately, but in the long run they increase the pupil’s hostility with PDO.
- Avoid asking the child with DOP to “be good”: it has no effect.
- Avoid telling the pupil that he is “bad”, because this adjective could be internalized by the pupil himself and lead to even more serious consequences.
- Also avoid using negative expressions like “no”, “don’t do”, “enough”, “stop it”, and the like.
- Teach the pupil with the oppositional provocative disorder of substitute behaviors. That is, to teach him to express his anger and frustration in a constructive way. We cannot limit ourselves to preventing him from behaving in a certain way.
- We must not make requests to the pupil with PDO, but affirmations. If asked to do something, he will probably refuse most of the time.
- Establish certain rules, which are clear and have certain (and appropriate) consequences.
- Help the pupil to set a daily goal, and check if he completes it.
- Find an area of interest of the pupil, in which he is perhaps an expert, and ask him for advice about it. Or at least, enhance these skills and competences in some way.
- Put the pupil in the condition to ask himself this question: “What consequences did my anger have?”
- Stay calm and don’t get angry with the pupil with the oppositional provocative disorder .
- The pupil with the PDO needs to be listened to, and it is also important to hear his reasons and understand them.
- To stimulate his participation in the lesson and in school life as a whole, instead of using constructive criticism it is better to praise and gratify the pupil with PDO when he does something positive.
- Create group activities: they are also very useful to the pupil with PDO, since they help him in social adaptation.
- Never give in to the bad deeds and bad intentions of the pupil with oppositional behaviors, otherwise he may feel authorized to do whatever he wants.
- In general, the skills required of a teacher with a pupil who has the oppositional provocative disorder are: firmness, self-control, sweetness and patience.
There is also another aspect to consider: the pupil’s educational path with PDO.
Without concrete help from the teacher, the pupil risks falling heavily behind the rest of the classmates.
The first thing to consider from this point of view, is that in this case too you need to be very patient. Expecting satisfactory results immediately is an error to be avoided.
The pupil must be able to make small progress from time to time, encouraging everything through simple objectives to follow, whose degree of difficulty increases from time to time.
In addition, the teacher must take into account the personality and characteristics of the student with oppositional provocative disorder , and on the basis of this, adjust with the activities and tasks to be given to him.
Another mistake to avoid is to force him to do his homework and other school activities faster, or with more satisfying results. In fact, improvements must always take place gradually, without excessive pressure. Any forcing to accelerate his improvements is always wrong, because it would only encourage his natural aggressive and defensive attitudes.
The child or boy with PDO has needs, both educational and emotional. And by trying to satisfy them, it also contributes to making the school environment a no longer hostile place for him.