Dealing With Nay-sayers of All Ages: Three Tips

Shrinks have a name for those who never say yes–Oppositional Defiant Disorder. It is a disorder because it rules the person’s life, they  rarely if ever say yes.


Praise an ODD and they will often start putting themselves down. As a parent, offering  to give a higher allowance will see the ODD child  refusing. Why?

Because it is winning the will struggle that matters.

Very few  deserve the ODD label. Power leaders, and that refers to most parents, however, can learn a great deal about handling negative behavior in general by understanding when disobedience becomes a disorder.

We all engage in ODD behaviors from time to time. Some more than others.

Think about it? Do you like always being told what to do? Some enjoy the comfort of not having to make decisions, but most do not want to be micro managed. That is why  disputes often arise when arises between drivers and riders in cars.  According to a poll  back seat driving lead to more fights between married couples than anything except sex and money.

Here is a quick symptom list describing ODD: Loses temper, argues with adults, refuses to do what is asked,  annoys others on purpose, is touchy and irritable, blames others, seems spiteful, seems to seek revenge. and to enjoy being disobedient; however, he or she does not break laws that are felonious or criminal.

Problem: As with so many labels, these symptoms are often a matter of  judgement. Almost everyone at one time or another shows such symptoms. Many of us beak the law. If you drive most likely you have exceeded the speed limit or failed to stop or yield when the law says you must.

Be warned, don’t practice medicine without a license. Don’t try to diagnosis self, family, friends, students, staff. The professionals have a hard enough time  agreeing on psychiatric labels. Instead learn how to help

Parenting tips

These tips will help not just parents but all dealing with major nay-saying.

Parenting tip one: Understand what makes someone ODD.  Disobeying feels powerful and often the person feels powerless, or felt so as a child.

Some who show this disorder grew up in violent homes, were beaten as children or saw fighting parents, or were victims of major emotional abuse. Many had major problems in school; some lived in lots of different homes.

Other reasons: As a child, the person only got attention when s/he was doing something wrong. This can happen in large families or in families suffering from a great deal of stress. Also happens because some families worry praise can spoil a child or youth, while other families take good behavior for granted. Finally, the youngest child in a family  is often  over bossed or feels over-bossed.

Parenting tip two:  The overall strategy is to avoid all power struggles and arguments. An ODD child or adult gets jazzed up and juiced by the fight. The longer s/he can keep from obeying, the more powerful s/he feels.

Teens often feel the need to assert their power and that can lead to minor Gotcha wars. Read about teens and Gotcha Wars in this post. 

Specific ways to cut down on negative behaviors include:

  • The child or adult must be able to do what is asked. Many children having problems in school have learning disabilities that make it impossible to do what is asked. We would never ask a blind person to read the printed page. Children are often asked to do what they cannot do. The same is true of employees. Know the other person’s abilities.
  • Rules must be clear, written down, and posted where every one can see.  See this post for rules that matter: safety, respect for self, others, property; and obeying reasonable laws. 
  • Punishments must be clear and not leave any room for arguing.
  • The authority figure must follow these rules.  If the adults don’t obey rules, lie, con, bully, fight or steal, so will those they are trying to lead.
  • Strengths must be acknowledged.
  • A reward system for good behavior is as important as punishments for unacceptable behaviors.
  • A culture of obedience matters. One of the difficulties currently facing many parents, teachers, and bosses is the general encouragement in all kinds of media to portray parents, teachers, and bosses as either stupid, mean, or dishonest.
  • All involved need to handle anger and resentment properly.
  • Self-soothing skills are also helpful. Buy my ebook: Self-soothing to Create Calm in Your Life. 
  • Consistency matters. All rules, rewards, and punishments must apply to all, all the time and every time.

Parenting tip three: There is a good side to ODD behavior. ODDs  are conveying important messages. Listening to dissenting voices is not always easy, but is usually more productive than only hearing those who always agree with you.

Minimally, a nay-sayer is announcing something about him or herself.  Also remember, humans would probably still be sitting in a tree, shivering from the cold, and getting rained or snowed on if mankind’s rebellious children did not show us how to climb down, use fire, take advantage of caves.


Remember sharing is caring and the easiest way to practice kindness is to share this post if you found it helpful. Share it even if it doesn’t speak to you, it will speak to some. Didn’t like it? Comment and tell me why and how to improve.


This post was not inspired by this WordPress Daily Prompt. Out of Reach –  Write about the one X that got away — a person, an experience, a place you wanted to visit. How much would you change about your life to have it within reach again?

However, it sparked this response. Financial success for my writing efforts has been out of reach. Would have made my life more secure, improved my self-confidence, but would not have stopped me from writing for it is a passion . A passion is something you must do no matter what the outcome. Healthy passions give meaning to life and mine seems healthier than many.


These links are for those not familiar with Emotional Intelligence or the idea of Emotional Fitness.

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