Tips for Parents of Children with ODD

Oppositional defiance disorder, or ODD, can cause plenty of stress and frustration for children and their families. Parents often seek advice and guidance on how to keep things progressive and positive when it comes to helping their child with ODD. Here are some tips for parents of children with ODD that can help smooth out relationships and keep parents centered on the most important task—working with their child to best manage the symptoms of the condition and minimize its impact on his or her life.


About ODD

ODD is a behavioral disorder that includes aggression toward others, frequent angry outbursts and tantrums, deliberately defying authority figures, refusal to obey or comply with reasonable requests and constant blame on others. The symptoms of ODD are often so serious that they interfere with a child’s ability to function normally at home and at school.


Because a child’s outburst are so upsetting to both parents and children, it’s important for parents to

follow these 5 steps in dealing with a child with ODD:


Step 1. Stay calm

When a child is in the middle of a tantrum, it’s easy for parents to get caught up in the emotions and respond to anger with anger. The best thing for parents to do is to never allow the situation to escalate. In other words, when parents remain calm and collected, no matter what the child says or does, the situation cannot get more tense. In fact, when parents remove themselves from the arguments, it takes a lot of steam out of the child’s tirade.


Step 2. Stay consistent

Many children with ODD will argue and argue just for the sake of winning or to wear parents down so that they give in. Parents who set clear rewards and punishments for each action and stick to them have a much better chance of helping their child control his or her behavior. If a child knows that he or she will always receive a certain reward or privilege for a certain behavior or accomplishment, there is more incentive to overcome impulses. On the other hand, a child who gets consistent punishments for certain actions may be more inclined to control the actions leading to that consequence.


Step 3. Stay focused

A child with ODD is an expert in pushing people’s buttons and throwing them off center in order to manipulate them. Parents must stay focused on the task at hand (such as getting a child to finish a chore or to talk about a disruption at school) instead of getting distracted by the child’s argument or feeling bad about something the child says (like, “you’re fat” or “I hate you”). Staying focused on the goal allows parents to better help their child reach his or her own goals—immediately and in the long-term.


Step 4. Stay involved

Children with ODD need lots of guidance and intervention, whether it’s taking medicine on time or making it to scheduled therapy. If ODD is left untreated, it can result in significant behavior issues into adolescence and adulthood. Parents who stay involved and proactive provide the most valuable resources to their child and act as an advocate in all kinds of situations, especially at school. There are support groups, online forums, awareness websites and more all dedicated to providing the latest information, most recent studies and basic support for both parents and children with ODD.


Step 5. Stay positive

Children with ODD know that they are different and often understand that they cause frustration and anger in adults around them. Parents can help children with ODD to see beyond their negative self-impressions and boost their self-esteem. Staying positive and enthusiastic, even during the worst episodes, let children see that they have someone on their side who is rooting for them and who believes in them. Helping a child see that there is so much more to him or her than their ODD is a task that every parent should commit to every day.

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