Can ODD Be Overcome?

Having recently experienced a student who was oppositionally defiant in one of my classes, I was reminded of the mental health professional description of the behaviors of someone with that type of behavioral issue.

Below is the checklist of a child with the disorder which, by the way, needs to be tracked according to intensity and repetition. In my case the student exhibited all but one of the descriptors.  Not knowing the background of this student because he was relatively new in my class, or if there was some type of trauma in his life that triggered the actions, I gave him the benefit of the doubt and reacted according to how I’ve been trained. Certainly, aggressive behavior such as he exhibited could be excused due to trauma. Otherwise, there are ways to deal with it. Here is the list which seems to characterize an ODD child/teen.

  • Often loses temper
  • Argues with adults and authority figures
  • Refuses to comply with adult requests
  • Blames others for his mistakes
  • Deliberately annoys people
  • Is easily annoyed by others
  • Is angry/resentful and spiteful/vindictive.

Sound like someone you may know?

Please see information below as I found it most helpful and I think you will too

If a person exhibits four or more of these behaviors for six months or longer, he/she would likely be diagnosed with ODD, unless there was an alternative explanation; for example, if the individual has experienced some kind of trauma or if there’s another disorder or condition at play. The most important factor to consider is frequency and intensity. All kids exhibit some of these behaviors, but not to the extent of an ODD child. ODD may develop at any time, over time, and may be secondary to another diagnosis. In other words, it might co-exist with ADHD or a mood disorder.


With oppositional and defiant children, there are very different levels of misbehavior. You might have a youngster who’s having temper tantrums, or an older adolescent who’s exhibited ODD behavior for years and who feels justified in being verbally or physically abusive, or punching holes in the kitchen wall.

A common trait of kids with Oppositional Defiant Disorder is that they often see themselves as victims and feel justified in acting out. And sadly, they see so many examples of people in our culture who act out — from rock stars to athletes to politicians — that they feel even more justified in what they’re doing.

Parents and certainly teachers are often intimidated by their ODD child’s behavior because it’s so difficult to deal with; sometimes it just seems easier to give in than to deal with trying to manage and respond differently. Again, it’s important to remember as a parent that you can change at any time. You might feel defeated because of your own stress levels, feelings of blame or failure, and exhaustion. But here’s the truth: you can learn to respond in such a way as to reduce the acting out behavior.


Here are four things you can do as a parent to effectively manage your child with Oppositional Defiant Disorder: I found this info on the internet to help me deal with my own problems in class. Just google Oppositional Defiant Disorder and you’ll receive great suggestions.

  1. Respond without anger:It’s important to respond to your ODD child without anger—try to be as calm and matter-of-fact as possible. Just acknowledge the behavior, state it as you see it, explain how it will need to change and then remove yourself from all arguments. You really have to pick your battles and decide what’s most important to you—and ultimately to your child.


  1. Be clear and consistent:The nature of oppositional defiant behavior is to wear parents down so that they eventually give in. You need to be strong, clear and consistent in your follow through.


  1. Do not take things personally. Do not take your child’s behavior personally. When your ODD child acts out, as hard as it might be, stay as neutral and objective as possible. You need to be clear and concise and not get pulled into a power struggle—it’s really not about you, it’s about your child and what he needs to learn. We as parents sometimes need to be great actors and actresses with our kids. The key is to keep practicing calm, consistent parenting and following through.


  1. Don’t be your child’s friend—be his parent:Remember, being a parent is not a personality contest. There are times when he won’t like you—he may even shout, “I hate you,” or call you foul names. But if you keep setting limits with your child and follow through by giving him consequences and holding him accountable, then ultimately you’re doing the best thing for your child.



Resolving Conflict

Children learn to use strategies modeled by adults. In particular, I am writing punitive practices such as warnings, threats, and punishments. The child learns to use the same strategies with others whether in the classroom, at home, or in social situations. Youngsters who use threats and punishments to get other kids to do their bidding or try to intimidate weaker kids are called bullies. Kids who threaten or are angrily “in your face” at home are termed oppositionally defiant.

As a teacher, I see anti-bullying programs instigated at schools, but there is sometimes a downside to these programs. The programs and consultations can escalate an already bad situation by making the child feel more guilty, shamed, and punished in hopes he will change his ways.

What surprises me is that the question of where these students learn such behavior is often not considered. Fewer still, see any connection between disciplinary policies and bullying. Sadly, disciplinary policies rarely get to the root of the problem. These policies advanced at school, or remediated by parental talks at home, often don’t help kids identify what is truly bothering them, nor do they find very effective ways to meet the child’s needs.

Here’s a strategy I use in the classroom which could work equally well at home, and is an alternative to punishment. You’ll find less resistance and/or half-hearted compliance to your threats and your anger.

I form a contract or agreement with the students about certain rules that are discussed. Breaking of the rules is breaking of the contract. An agreement will assure the youngster or young adult that their needs are taken seriously, their word is trusted, and their thoughts and concerns are valued. When my students unilaterally agree to the contract, we can move forward, and I am assured that if the agreement is broken, there will be a good reason which can be discussed. There is an intent to identify and address the needs creating the behavior which often results in mutual respect, caring, and cooperation. Obviously, you can discuss agreed upon consequences with the child and use them when you find it necessary.

When an agreement is broken whether in class or home:

1- If the child is endangering someone, such as another sibling, protective force or restraint should be used.

2- Provide time, if necessary, for a shift in energy or cooling down period, before speaking seriously.

3- Show empathy for the person’s feelings and needs. This could be difficult as you yourself may be caught up in the negative emotion engendered by the situation – but, YOU are the adult.

4- When the youngster knows you’ve listened , and you understand his or her needs in the situation, then he’ll be able to see other more effective ways to handle himself. The youngster will also be able to imagine how to do things differently in the future for better results. You can discuss these ideas with the child.