I Am Mad

In the episode, “I am Mad,” Jojo, the Armadillo, struggles with ODD—oppositional defiant disorder. Symptoms of ODD found in children include unusual anger and irritability, frequent loss of temper,  quick annoyance, and regular opposition to authority figures or rules. These symptoms can be found in everyone and are natural. If symptoms are prolonged for about six months, however, that would be an indication of severe ODD.

For Jojo, her ODD manifests itself through anger and frustration. Her anger is directed towards several things, including the prairie dog—which demonstrates how easy it is for Jojo to lose her temper. Jojo’s frustration is directed towards herself and specifically her inability to understand what is making her angry. Both her anger and frustration lead to losses of temper and overall dismay. While Jojo does recognize that her reactions may hurt those she cares about, children with ODD may not. In these cases, Jojo can be used as an example to teach children the hurt they can cause when they react in an unkind manner. 

The activity Jojo uses to help her calm down and control her anger is one which can help children not only recognize their emotions but gain control of them. This is incredibly important because, at the end of the day, they will need to be the ones who take responsibility for their actions. As the child is doing the activity, parents can ask the child how it is helping them to calm down, or how it is making them feel.

What parents and responsible adults can do to help children is listen to them. Talking through their emotions will help children come to better understand what may be causing them to feel angry or experience other symptoms found with ODD. When listening and interacting with the child, parents and trusted adults should remain patient, demonstrating emotional self-control. This is important as children, themselves, will need to learn self-control in overcoming their struggles. While this is being done, seeking care from a professional therapist will help identify the child’s actual needs and provide productive care. It is important that this is done thoughtfully and sooner, rather than later, as, without the proper care and treatment, children with ODD will start to struggle in multiple facets of their life.