Virginia Tech study offers help for parents with hard-to-manage children

Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) in children refers to a disorder that is characterized by a recurring pattern of negativity, defiance, disobedience, and hostility toward authority figures, especially parents and teachers. The Child Study Center, part of the Department of Psychology and the College of Science at Virginia Tech, is offering free assessment and treatment for parents and children whose behavior may be related to the disorder. The study will be the first in the nation to compare the two types of treatment for the disorder. 

   

A child that displays a consistent pattern of defiant, hostile, or uncooperative behavior toward parents and other people in authority may be diagnosed with oppositional defiant disorder. A child that displays a consistent pattern of defiant, hostile, or uncooperative behavior toward parents and other people in authority may be diagnosed with oppositional defiant disorder.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, the disorder is estimated to occur in 2 to 16 percent of children and includes the following symptoms that persist for more than six months:

  • Frequent arguing
  • Significant oppositional behavior
  • Irritability
  • Temper outbursts
  • Persistent stubbornness
  • Aggressiveness

“To date, the predominant approach to the treat of ODD has been parent management training,” said Thomas Ollendick, University Distinguished Professor of psychology and director of the Child Study Center. 

   

University Distinguished Professor Tom Ollendick, director of the Child Study Center and internationally known expert in child fears and phobias University Distinguished Professor Tom Ollendick, director of the Child Study Center and internationally known expert in child fears and phobias

In recent years, experts in the field proposed an alternative model of the treatment of the disorder. The model of intervention is referred to as Collaborative Problem-Solving (CPS).

“CPS emphasizes identification of the specific psychological and biological factors underlying a child’s oppositional behavior and addressing these factors through application of diverse psychosocial behavioral treatment methods,” Ollendick said. “A critical feature of the CPS is the involvement of parents in the training of children’s affective modulation and self-regulation skills so as to better regulate and control their behavior.”

Children must be between 8 and 12 years old and exhibit all or most of the behavior characteristics listed above. The study is open to individuals in the New River and Roanoke Valleys of Virginia. Participation in the study may earn your family up to $200.

For more information, or to determine if your family is eligible to participate, please contact the Virginia Tech Child Study Center at (540) 231-8276 or visit the Child Study Center website.

  • For more information on this topic, contact Catherine Doss at (540) 231-5035.

Ground-breaking research connects cognition and emotion development

    CAP Lab research; child being fitted with a brain wave cap

Martha Ann Bell, associate professor of psychology in the College of Science at Virginia Tech, and her research team are studying how cognitions and emotions are related in children and how this relationship changes as children develop from infancy into their preschool years. Read more

Grant funds study of child phobias

In addition to the study of defiant disorders, the Child Study Center is also conducting an ongoing project that researches specific fears in children. The study is funded by the National Institute of Mental Health and is open to children between 7 and 12 years old. 

Some common phobias can include:

  • Being alone (monophobia)
  • Dark and nighttime fears (nyctophobia)
  • Enclosed spaces (claustrophobia)
  • Heights (acrophobia)
  • Water (hydrophobia)

To learn how to participate, contact the Child Study Center at (540) 231-8276 or childphobias@vt.edu.

Read a related story on phobias.

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