I didn't know my child was ODD - I just thought he was ornery
The Defiant Child: A Parent's Guide to Oppositional Defiant Disorder
by Douglas Riley
*From the Publisher: The American Psychiatric Association estimates that sixteen percent of children in the United States may have oppositional defiant disorder. These kids relentlessly push the boundaries set for them by authority figures. By exploring the mindset of O.D.D. children and explaining the way they operate, Dr. Douglas Riley teaches parents how to recognize the signs and modify the behavior of their O.D.D. child.
Well, I really don't want to pull a Fonda and review a book I haven't read. So I'll review the title and blurb.
What a triumph for modern psychiatry, they've managed to medicalize childhood!
Children who "relentlessly push the bounds set for them by authority figures"? Oh whatever will this poor old world be FORCED to endure next? Oh my, I simply must learn to "recognize the signs". (Of what? Being a kid?)
My five-year-old son pretty relentlessly pushes the bounds set for him by the authority figures in his life, i.e. Mommy and Daddy. These days it mostly involves how much TV he's going to watch and when it gets turned off. We're told by more experienced parents that we've got bedtime battles in store.
He's also argumentative at times, pays highly selective attention to what his Authority Figures tell him and has learned to quibble. ("I told you not to run away in the store!" "I didn't run Daddy, I walked.")
Why would he do that? Are we bad parents? Is there some kind of Oedipal conflict involved? Or could it be (and I'm just speculating here) that it's because he's intelligent, spirited and in robust good health? (Knock wood.) Could it be that it is in the nature of kids to "push the bounds set by authority figures" and that it's the job of parents to first set those bounds, enforce them, and then loose them at the appropriate times?
Q and A time:
Q: Do you blame yourselves?
A: Hell yes. Heredity has got to count for something after all.
Q: How do you deal with a defiant child?
A: Lots of different ways. My wife studies the subject of child rearing seriously and in fact there is a fair amount of good advice available. Mostly it amounts to saying "No!" and meaning it.
Q: What's your position on spanking?
A: No special position, just a swat on the butt while standing. Doesn't much work though, grounding without TV is what seems to sober him up quickest.
OK, so maybe the book is about behavior extreme enough to warrant serious concern, and who knows? Maybe it does have some good tips for dealing with defiance in children. But SIXTEEN PERCENT? You're telling me that sixteen percent of American kids have a "disorder" that warrants medical intervention?
Now here's a speculation of mine. We have reason to believe that some people are born, what for want of a better term we might call "natural leaders". People who have reason to know, such as Henry Morton "Doctor Livingston I presume?" Stanley, say that about one in five men are such. That's close enough for government work to 16%.
Could this be what they're trying to define as a "disorder"?