Oppositional Defiant (ODD) Students: Must Have Methods
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Posted: Tuesday, October 04, 2005
by Ruth Herman Wells
If you are a teacher who finds that "nothing works"
to manage some students, this article may help. It's way past time for you to learn about ODD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder.
In college, you probably got very little training on basic mental health, but if you've been teaching for more than five minutes, you know that little bit of training wasn't enough. Here's just a quick peek at what they should have taught you in college about basic juvenile mental health. Be aware however that this article gives you just 1% of what you will need to know in your classroom in order to maintain control and best assist each challenged student. Be sure to visit our web site (http://www.youthchg.com) to get more of the remaining 99% must-know mental health information you need every minute in your classroom.
"Oppositional-Defiant" is a mental health diagnosis that describes kids that have consciences but sometimes act like they don't. This diagnosis can only be applied by a mental health professional but will be very important for any youth worker to know and understand. This diagnosis is far more hopeful than "conduct disorder,"
which means the child lacks a conscience and a real capacity for relationships. While the oppositional- defiant child (ODD) may also appear to have little conscience or relationship capacity, you may be able to improve that with the right approach and methods. With conduct disordered youth, such improvement may not be possible.
** WHAT DOES "OPPOSITIONAL-DEFIANCE" LOOK LIKE?
Oppositional-defiant kids are often some of your most misbehaved students. They may disrupt your class, hurt others, defy authority and engage in illegal or problematic conduct. Though they may look similar to conduct disorders, their bad behavior is usually less severe, less frequent, and of shorter duration.
The ODD label is often inaccurately applied as this dynamic can be a difficult concept to grasp and apply.
Many ADD youth are also ODD, and boys dominate this category.
**THE 3 AREAS OF HELP FOR ODD YOUTH The thrust of helping the ODD child must focus on
1) Skill building, plus 2)"Pulling up" that conscience and 3)Improving their relationship skills.
For skill building, teaching them how to regulate their anger, actions, peer skills, verbal output, etc. will be critical. But equally important, this child must be aided to care about others and to be guided more by conscience. These are areas we cover extensively in our live and taped workshops, but here are a few of the most effective interventions we give especially for ODD children and teens. These interventions will only focus on stimulating that conscience or "compensating" for it.
If you want more than the handful of ideas given here, or, you want to see how to build skills or relationship capacity, the other two crucial aspects to concentrate on with ODD kids, then consider coming to our class or getting some of our books that will deliver hundreds of the solutions you need.
**STRATEGIES TO STIMULATE THE CONSCIENCE OF ODD KIDS
*** To help "pull up" the child's conscience, use this intervention. It can be used pro-actively or reactively (before or after the child has engaged in misbehavior.) For example, let's say the child has stolen the teacher's pen, you can say "I want you to imagine that we're making a video about your life.
Are you impressed?" That "uncomfortable sensation that the child may have in reaction to this intervention may be the conscience stirring.
*** Another intervention to stimulate the conscience:
after the child has engaged in a problem behavior, such as stealing a pen, as in the example above, ask the child, "So what's your integrity worth to you?"
*** To adapt the intervention shown above for young children, simply rephrase the question to "So what's people believing in you, worth to you?" Or, rephrase it to "So what's people trusting you, worth to you?"
*** Before a child undertakes a problem behavior, ask the youth to imagine that s/he will read about that act on the cover of the local newspaper in the morning.
Ask the child their reaction. If they say that they wouldn't want to read about it in the newspaper, the next morning, then you can say "Then don't do it!" This image makes a fast and easy guide for kids to follow to evaluate whether or not to do questionable behaviors. This intervention is a good choice to use with children whose conscience provides little guidance.
Remember: you've just gotten a tiny portion of the information you need on ODD students. Please be sure to read more, go to a training, or otherwise update your skills. There is no substitute for getting the tools you need for your classroom. Our web site (link above) has more help if you want quick answers.
This Article has been viewed 26,577 times. (Not updated in real-time.)Top-level comments on this article: (8 total)
In the good old days we said one of two things about children like this: 'they have an attitude problem' or 'they will grow out of it'. The attitude problem usually disappeared with maturity or with proper parenting and teaching. The label ODD did not exist. It was NOT a mental health problem. In my opinion these labels are very dangerous, as they are identifying what are 'differences' between people that are entirely natural. The world would not get very far if we were all 'sheeple' and quiet and studious and accademic as the world is made up of a great many different people. As well as accademics, we also need practical, creative, physical people to do those jobs that require, strength, passion, single mindedness, leadership, courage. I have a book on ODD and I have to say after reading it, that it describes most teenagers I knew as a teenager myself. All of whom are now healthy, functioning adults. Their parenting is what greatly affected the direction their 'attitude' problem took, or their hormones merely settled down as they became older. What we need here is greater variety of teaching methods, rather than one size fits all and a bunch of unhelpful labels that convince the child they are 'abnormal' and cannot change.» left by CLiff 1 year 103 days ago.
I understand it seems to refer to many "normal teens". However based on your answer I can only guess you have never dealt with a child who truly has O.D.D. daily. It is extreme only when you deal with it for a decent amount of time will you realize the distinction between a typical rebellious child or even a more than typical. It is a different beast all together.» left by lydia from oklahoma 238 days 10 hours ago.
I have to agree...if you have never dealt with a child that truly has this disorder, you can't begin to understand.
In a good moment they want to behave and want to get good grades, but something happens and they are transformed and cannot comply with the simplest request.
» left by Anonymous 4 years 223 days ago.
I somewhat agree with the man who commented before me. It's one thing to expect studious and appropriate behavior out of a teenager, and it's another to label them as abnormal. I've worked as a private counsel to teenagers labeled as ODD or ADHD, and a vast majority appear to be functional people with an attitude problem. And oddly enough, many seem to be broken up over being called a hopeless case. This clinical take on normal teenage behavior can lead to some very, very dangerous problems. I've spoken to a few who have resulted to prescription drug use to keep them level-headed enough to get through the day.We have to be a bit more careful about who we say is what.
» left by Deborah Dupee from Timmins Ontario 4 years 125 days ago.
I am not sure what these comments are leading too...but I have a 10 year old boy with ODD..and yes he is on medication, he has been more than a handfull since he was less than a year old...I had a second child when he was 22 months old..I had to keep them seperated from each other ...different rooms, because he would hit, scratch, pinch her all the time..my pediatrition said..its normal hes a boy....thats what I was told ..as well as ..you have to dicipline him...I sought help anywhere I could and no one helped me....I always remained calm with him, gently explained things..and today he is violent with his sister as well as myself..he throws things around calls me and his siter a f*%$ing b&*%h tells me to shut up...blames everyone else for everything, its never his fault..he lies...he has tamtrums everyday..and the list goes on..and yet to this day I stuck with him and i stay calm and chose my battles..so this comment of clinical behavior etc...you obviously have not been in my shoes..you have no idea of what it has been like for my daugther and myself and my parents...it has been like living a nightmare for 9 years..so yes do be a bit more careful about what you say..my son knows he has a problem..he tells me he doesnt want to be like this...I get angry when people who dont live it, stick their comments in, when they have no idea what they are talking about !!!!!» left by Anonymous 2 years 96 days ago.
Yes, I so much agree.............I do walk in shoes like yours with my child with ODD.» left by liz 1 year 169 days ago.
I also walk in your shoes. There are studies that show that the genes that cause ADHD also are linked to ODD, so there is a medical link to the problems our kids display. My son is now 18 and has come a long way. He is a good young man, but still has problems with his anger at times. My greatest frustration raising him has been dealing with the school system. They seem to be completely resistant to handling his behaviors in appropriate ways for ODD kids. Instead they do things like telling him to shut up and these behaviors only work to escalate ODD behavior and then they punish him for his behavior........... I have fought to get the special ed department to educate staff on ODD and ways to deal with it, but only meet with resistance. Having a child with ODD is very challenging and tiring, a little cooperation from the school would be a great help. I hear your frustrations and I agree that many people do not understand ODD and they really need more education. Good luck with your son and don't give up, all of your hard work will pay off, your son is worth it.
» left by Anonymous 4 years 76 days ago.
As a teacher it is very difficult to work with a child that truly has ODD. To anyone who maybe in a similar situation - you must remember to stay calm.
» left by Holly from Georgia 4 years 64 days ago.
My daughter has been diagnosed ODD. She too has been very difficult since birth. She too had to be constantly monitord around her baby sister because of her violence toward the baby. She was nearly expelled from Pre-K when she was 5. She required daily reports from daycare since the day she stepped foot in a daycare at the age of 4. She is just a very very difficult child. On the flip side, when she's not -- she's not. She can be one of the sweetest little girls on earth.The thing that really gets me about the ODD diagnosis and explanation articles is that they all say that it usually is a result of poor parenting or home environments. Then they go on to say it's a common comorbid diagnosis. I'm almost embarrased to submit these information sheets to the school system for fear that they will think my husband and I are the problem. My daughter is ODD as a result of sensory integration disorder and anxiety problems. Both of which are neurological issues - not environmental.Yes, my daughter looks like a child with an attitude problem. In fact, she does have an attitude problem. However, this "problem" is no fault of her own. She's had this problem since birth! Imagine being a 4 year old. Now imagine that you constantly are uncomfortable. Cloths, sights, sounds, movements all aggrivate you. You live in a near constant state of anxiety about things luch as "where's Mommy", "I don't think I'll like this food", "I don't like the baby", etc. I think you will find it rather difficult to function "normally".My daughter is also above the curve in intellegence. Therefore she understood things like poverty before she developed the capacity to deal with the sadness of that emotion.She has an illness. It's a difficult illness to work with both as a parent and teacher. It's an invisible illness. All you see is the pain in the neck. I see a bright little girl with a bright future if she can just figure out how to live in our world.
» left by Anonymous 3 years 162 days ago.
As a teacher, I have never worked with a child with ODD who did not come from a dysfunctional family. Not that these families were negative, just negative for the child in creating stressors the child couldn't handle. As a mother I understand living with a child with mental health issues as my son does every day. It takes a lot of work and constant communication but he is successful. Most people who say they've tried it all really haven't.» left by Anonymous 2 years 120 days ago.
What is your dysfunctional may not be to someone else... what you are seeing is they are just as frustrated as the teacher.... I am a teacher as well and am offended by your comment.... I know many kids with ODD .... and they do not come from a dysfunctional family.... it may seem that way to a person that sits on a stool and looks down on others though» left by Oddmum from uk 1 year 184 days ago.
I am a mum to a 5 yr old with ODD behaviours/attachment and sensory processing disorders and yes, he comes from a dysfunctional family, his birth parents have mental health issues and mild learning difficulties and he was exposed to plenty of trauma, loss and stress in his early days, but since his adoption as a baby we have put in "a lot of work and constant communication" as you call it, as have a fantastic group of specialist therapeutic pros and teachers, we are expert at minimising, reducing and managing stressors and triggers but his capacity to 'learn' how to do this himself, independently is evidently limited...this is neurological not simply an attitude problem. We too experience 'successes' but in ways that are probably not obvious to others. You may understand what living with YOUR child and their mental health issue is like, but please dont assume that makes you expert to judge others experiences.» left by Sunny from Massachusetts 1 year 149 days ago.
I would love to see the behavior plan that was implemented for your child. I am a special education teacher.
» left by A Second Grade Teacher from California 1 year 191 days ago.
This is my first year with a possible ODD student. After reading this article, I am going to step up my compassion where this student is concerned. However, I have been continually blamed as being a teacher who cannot handle my job because I have a student who is outright deifant. This student hits, hurts, yells, disrupts, talks back, ignores direct instrutions, etc. ON A DAILY BASIS. The student's behavior has been blamed on me and my having an "out of control" classroom. My administration has been in my room and has observed for themselves that I have a tight handle on my classroom. I am saying all this to point out to parents, if you have a teacher who is genuinely concerned about your child's success, do not blame them for your child's behavior. Try partnering with them in order to find a "program" that will work best for your child. Playing the "blame game" will only hurt your child in the longrun. Parents take responsibility for your child(ren). Ultimately, it is the parents who will have to give an account for their child's behavior/life NOT their teacher.
» left by Never believed from HOuston 53 days 9 hours ago.
Hello: The teacher comments disturb me the most. You have hard jobs - yes. So do I, but I do know that teaching is a calling, but teachers do not always know exactly what they sign up for before they actually experience it. I NEVER believed in medication and ADHD, ODD
well, I raised to girls, now in their 20's. We had ups and downs, but no misbehaving. My son came along, now 11 and he's be very difficult since the day he was born. We are very down to earth, healthy, loving, still married, etc... he was kicked out of 3 daycares by the age of 3. and a private school at the age of 4. Thank goodness for public schools and the government believing in no child left behind. He was diagnosed with ADHD and ODD when he was 5. We tried stimulants, which work great for concentrating and zoning him out, but he got so thin and frail, we were scared for his health. He is now on Kapvay, a non stimulant and Respiradone. It has helped, his personality, which is awesome and fun, is back, but he's not able to keep friends. No one wants to play with him. Everyone thinks he's a 'bad' kid, but he's just active and doesn't even get into trouble. It's so sad and totally breaks my heart. He's going into a drepression and wanting to sleep all the time. When I ask the other parents what is going on, they don't have the balls to tell me if my kid actually did something. His teachers, one in particular, just chalks everything up as bad behaivor and when she calls me, she can only say that she has too many kids to deal with him. We have ARD meetings with the school, but some just think he is BAD. The teachers that do have difficulty with him, are not firm, but loving at the same time and he shuts down. Until you have ACTUALLY lived with a child with ODD - DO NOT judge!!! It is totally different than just a rowdy, rebelious type of attitude. I could handle that and have all of my life with children I have babysat all summer long.