Samaritan Behavioral Health

Oppositional Defiant Disorder – Tips for Parents

 Dale Eilerman – Samaritan Behavioral Health

  • Always build on the positives, give the child praise and positive reinforcement when he shows flexibility or cooperation.
  • Take a time-out or break if you are about to make the conflict with your child worse, not better. This is good modeling for your child. Support your child if he decides to take a time-out to prevent overreacting.
  • Pick your battles. Since the child with ODD has trouble avoiding power struggles, prioritize the things you want your child to do. If you give your child a time-out in his room for misbehavior, don’t add time for arguing. Say “your time will start when you go to your room.”
  • Set up reasonable, age appropriate limits with consequences that can be enforced consistently.
  • Maintain interests other than your child with ODD, so that managing your child doesn’t take all your time and energy. Try to work with and obtain support from the other adults (teachers, coaches, and spouse) dealing with your child.
  • Manage your own stress with exercise and relaxation. Use respite care as needed.
  • Assign your child a household chore that is essential and that won’t get done unless the child does it.
  • Work with your spouse or others in your household to assure consistent and appropriate discipline procedures.
  • Parent management training focuses on teaching the parents specific and more effective techniques for handling the child’s opposition and defiance. Research has shown that parent management training is more effective than family therapy.

Whether involved in therapy or working on this disorder at home, the patient must work with his or her parents’ guidance to make the fullest possible recovery. According to the New York Hospital/Cornell Medical Center, the patients must:

  • Use self timeouts
  • Identify what increases anxiety
  • Talk about feelings instead of acting on them
  • Find and use ways to calm themselves
  • Frequently remind themselves of their goals
  • Get involved in tasks and physical activities that provide a healthy outlet for energy
  • Learn how to talk with others
  • Develop a predictable, consistent, daily schedule of activity
  • Develop ways to obtain pleasure and feel good
  • Learn how to get along with other people
  • Find ways to limit stimulation
  • Learn to admit mistakes in a matter-of-fact way