What therapies are ineffective in treating Oppositional Defiant Disorder?

Experts agree that therapies given in a one-time, short-lived approach (e.g., boot camps, tough-love camps, scared straight programs, and brat camps) are not effective for kids and teens with Oppositional Defiant Disorder. In fact, these approaches may do more harm than good.

Trying to scare or forcibly coerce kids and teens into behaving only reinforces aggressive behavior. These children may comply while under duress, but will learn from the scare tactics that were used on them – and use those same tactics on others at a later date. Kids respond best to treatment that rewards positive behavior and teaches them skills to manage negative behavior.

Before you send a troubled child or teen with Oppositional Defiant Disorder to a boot camp, it's important that you understand what these boot camps are and how effective (or not) they are in transforming angry, unhappy, struggling kids.

The theory behind most boot camps is that “if you scream enough at kids and discipline them, they will shape up." Angry, defiant, oppositional children and teens may shape up while in the intensely overwhelming, military-like environment of a boot camp, but in most cases, these short-term "SCARE camps" do not create lasting changes in behavior. It is more likely this type of setting will create more hostility and resentment toward authority figures.

Most troubled children need structure, strong guidance, therapy, and the discovery of natural consequences of behavior. For this reason, if your child or adolescent is truly struggling with behavior, emotions, and academics, he/she needs something that is more sophisticated and sensitive than a tough drill sergeant in his/her face.

Parenting Children and Teens with Oppositional Defiant Disorder

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