— Blog

Parenting defiant behavior in an ODD child

Parenting defiant behavior in an ODD child

Parenting defiant behavior can seem like an impossible task. In this post, we discuss helping those who have been diagnosed with Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). An ODD child can be one of the most frustrating and exhausting experiences for parents and caregivers. We offer suggestions on what you can do.

What is ODD?

Oppositional Defiant Disorder is a pattern of angry and irritability that has been consistent for at least six months. This behavior includes vindictiveness, argumentative and defiant posturing to authority. It is more than just defiant behavior. There are more things to consider and evaluate in a child’s behavior to determine if they have ODD which is why the disorder needs to be diagnosed by a mental health professional.

A child may exhibit some defiant behaviors and NOT have ODD. Defiant behaviors are not uncommon in children. Children may exhibit some defiant behavior as they grow. It is a demonstration of their independence. This is normal. The difference is that children diagnosed with ODD exhibit behaviors that interfere with their social and academic functioning and maintaining relationships. It causes distress to the family and relationships. A child may exhibit even more problems if they have also been diagnosed with ADHD or depression.

There are no tests to determine this disorder which is why a mental health professional needs to diagnose the disorder. They will be able to assess patterns of behavior and rule out other issues.

Parenting skill for ODD Behavior

Using a technique called Preventive Teaching is a powerful tool for parents. This technique has been used by professionals in group home settings and recommended by mental health professionals for ODD.

In essence, Preventive Teaching is a parenting skill that helps a child anticipate what is going to happen and have an already established response in place when it happens. It is best explained by an example.

If a child becomes disruptive when asked to finish his video game and to come to dinner the parent can teach their child how to respond to this scenario. They would follow the steps to Preventive Teaching. This skill should be used at a time when your child is not reactive and calm.

  1. Start with a positive empathy statement.
  2. Describe the behavior you see and the behavior you want.
  3. Give a meaningful reason the child should behave that way.
  4. Practice (role-play) the expected behavior.
  5. Evaluate what they did well. Correct anything they did not do well.
  6. Practice and (role-play) it again. Do this at least 4 times for consistency and muscle memory.
  7. Prepare them in advance by telling your child you will ask them to do this at a certain time in the near future.

To better understand how to do this, watch this example:

While the children in this video do not show them in a tantrum behavior, they do show how the skill is taught and implemented. Remember, this skill is taught at a neutral time, when your and your child is calm.

The entire Preventive Teaching lesson is available on the Smarter Parenting website. It includes games and activities you can use to teach your child this skill as well. Sometimes games and activities are easier for children to absorb information. We have tools, tips and suggestions for you in the lesson page.

We are here to help with ODD.

Leave us a comment or a question and we will answer your questions.