How To Help Your Teenager With ODD Still Have An Organized Life After Divorce

Divorce is often tough on the whole family, more so children and teens. Teenagers already have enough to deal with and most of them experience a cocktail of emotions after their parents’ divorce. They may feel angry, frustrated, sad, confused and lonely.  Such a stressful situation might worsen the behavior of teens with Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD).

ODD teens are not your typical teens. This behavioral disorder is characterized by consistent defiant, hostile and uncooperative behavior towards authority that seriously interferes with the teens’ daily life. The upheaval brought about by divorce can exacerbate an ODD teens’ symptoms and behavior, making things even more difficult for the family.

Part of dealing with an ODD teen involves creating and establishing structure to provide guidance and a positive atmosphere that’s crucial to their healthy development. This shouldn’t stop because of their parents’ divorce. Both parents are still needed to give guidance, love, and support.

Establishing Structure for your ODD Teen after Divorce

Maintaining rules and consequences.

You might feel guilty or overwhelmed after a divorce and that can lead you to let certain behaviors in your teen slide. ODD teens still need consistency so make sure you still uphold the rules and consequences they’re used to. Have a discussion with your teen and let them have a say in coming up with effective consequences and rules they should adhere to.

Cooperating with your ex-spouse.

Co-parenting after divorce brings its own set of challenges. ODD teens thrive on conflict and may enjoy pitting one parent against the other so having clear, open communication channels between the two of you will eliminate a wide range of problems. Both you and your ex-spouse need to have a discussion about your ODD teen and get on the same page about discipline and the basic rules they should follow.

Watch your own behavior.

Parents are behavioral models for their teens so ensure you only model behavior that you want them to emulate. Avoid bad-mouthing your ex-spouse and don’t use your teen to spy, report or check up on them either. Also, work out issues that involve you and your ex-spouse directly with them without involving your teen.

Enlist the help of a professional.

Talking and reassuring your teen can go a long way towards helping them adjust to life after divorce. However, your teen might refuse to talk to you and might feel better opening up to a trusted individual like a therapist. If that’s the case, enlisting the help of a professional might be the best thing to do. The professional might even recommend a behavioral modification program for your teen to help them get back on track.

While focusing on your ODD teen’s behavior is important, don’t forget to prioritize your own self-care. Find ways to keep yourself healthy as both you and your teen cope with the divorce.

Author of this article, Tyler Jacobson, enjoys going to the mountains near his home in Draper, Utah to connect with his wife and children through camping, hiking, and quality time together. When he isn’t rebooting in the outdoors, he shares his fatherly experiences with the world through writing and creative work. Tyler shares the ups and downs of family life and the solutions he’s found through lengthy research and involvement in the industry and his own experiences to help parents everywhere. Follow Tyler on: Twitter