Michigan Parenting Tips: De-escalating ODD Behaviors

odd behaviors

Dealing with oppositional defiant disorder is a difficult task for any parent. Even with extensive family counseling, it’s hard to learn how to accommodate the thinking patterns of a child with ODD. Nevertheless, this is a condition that affects as much as 16% of children in the U.S., creating a ripple effect in households in Michigan and throughout the country. In this guide, we will reveal some different methods for de-escalating ODD behaviors so you can adjust to your child’s reactions.

Avoid Using The Word “No”

Most children do not like to hear the word “no.” For children with ODD though, the word “no” acts as a trigger for an outburst. “No” means that the child is not in control of the situation, and feeling in control is incredibly important for ODD children. Avoiding the use of this word does not mean that you have to give your child everything he or she wants. It just means that you can find alternative ways to communicate the concept of “no” to your child.

Set A Definitive Schedule

One of the easiest ways to relay the word “no” without saying it directly is by giving a child a set schedule to follow during the day. Meal time, play time, homework time, and the like are all allotted for specific timeframes in the day. When a child wants to do something that goes against the schedule, you can say, “You know the schedule. You get to play outside after you finish your homework.” This doesn’t require the use of the word “no,” but it does deny the child’s request.

PRO TIP: Post your schedule on the fridge, in the bathroom, and in your child’s room so you can easily reference it at any point in time.

Redirect The Child’s Focus

You need to get your child’s mind off the argument at hand, or the one that is getting ready to develop. The less he can think about being defiant, the less defiant he will act. In reference to the schedule example above, the goal would be to direct the focus to the schedule or to upcoming events on the schedule, not whatever it is your child is trying to do at the time. “You get to play outside at 6:30. That’s only an hour away. Focus on cleaning your room until then.”

Redirection is also a great tactic for situations where you know an outburst is likely to happen. For example, if your child gets restless between dinner and bedtime, redirecting his attention between those hours will keep the chances of an explosion to a minimum. Try to find something to distract your child with, whether it’s a new chore to do or a fun book to read. Something as simple as “Could you feed the dog? That would help me a lot” may be all you need keep your child’s mind occupied through the escalation period.

Do Not Play Into Back-Talking

Back-talking is a common practice for children with ODD. No matter what you say, your child already has a response in place for it. If this back and forth continues, you will soon find yourself in a full-blown argument over something small. End the back-talking before it begins. Say what you need to say about a situation and then walk away. For example, you may say, “This is not time for TV right now. It’s time for homework.” Then turn off the television and walk away. Your child will not have the opportunity to provide a counterargument, which will help reduce the escalation of the outburst.