by Daniel T. Moore, Ph.D.
Families with children who are oppositional defiant have many difficulties to overcome. Life is not easy. Fortunately, there exists books to help cope with difficult children. The most common books on oppositional defiant children offer behavioral techniques to address the defiance and other problem behaviors. I personally feel these books are worthwhile, but recommend a different approach. The following books represent a position that children with oppositional defiance disorder have a learning disorder. Not a learning disorder in reading or in math, but a disorder in managing their emotions. The following three books explain this concept and offer useful suggestions that I feel are more effective than the traditional behavioral approaches.
The first book is for children that often have explosive rages. Not all children who are Oppositional Defiant Disorder have explosive outbursts of rage and anger. For those who do, The Explosive Child : A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, 'Chronically Inflexible' Children by Ross W. Greene, Ph.D. (ISBN: 0060175346) is an excellent source for solutions. Dr. Greene offers a different look at children with violent temper tantrums. It is not a quick fix but offers a philosophy and recommendations on teaching your child how to develop better coping skills. This book falls short on teaching parents how to teach emotional maturity.
The second book, Raising and Emotionally Intelligent Child by Joan Declaire, John M. Gottman, Daniel P. Coleman, and Joan de Claire (ISBN: 0684838656) teaches parents how to mature their child emotionally. It teaches coping skills and what your children can do with their emotions. According to Ericka Lutz: "The authors identify a five-step "emotion coaching" process to help teach children how to recognize and address their feelings, which includes becoming aware of the child's emotions; recognizing that dealing with these emotions is an opportunity for intimacy; listening empathetically; helping the child label emotions; setting limits; and problem-solving. Chapters on divorce, fathering, and age-based differences in emotional development help make Gottman's teachings detailed and useful."
Finally for advanced training and for peace of mind for the whole family, the book: Love is Letting Go of Fear by Gerald G. Jampolsky, ISBN: 0890872465 is a big help. Actually, we feel everyone should read this book. It is from "A Course in Miracles" and Jampolsky presents everything well. The book is easily read and the concepts are described in non-technical terms. It is a good philosophy to live by. If followed, it will bring peace of mind. Peace of mind is not usually found in families with a child who is oppositional and defiant. By following the principles in these books, healing can happen to all family members. Most importantly your child can overcome their emotional learning disorder and relate more effectively with others.
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