Defiant Child

Defiant Child: How to Discipline Your ODD Child Part 2

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Now that you understand why your ODD child is especially difficult, it's time to get down to brass tacks, by creating a behavioral program to implement with your ODD child.

The program is based on three main components: building a positive relationship with your defiant child, developing a point system, and establishing authority.

Let's focus on the first component, building a positive relationship. Usually it lasts about a week, and it is critical to the program's success. You'll spend this time noticing and commenting on the positive things your child does. That means that when you notice your child does something positive, however small, you will verbally praise him.

For example, if  his little brother makes an obnoxious remark, and your ODD child simply ignores him, you could casually remark, "I like how you ignored what your little brother said. You could have hit him or said something back, but you didn't. You were really in control there. "

Sometimes a gesture, such as a smile, or a thumbs up, are enough to show your approval.There's no need to make a big fuss about it, and in fact you'll need to be careful not to overdo it. If you do your child will become suspicious, or feel manipulated.

This step is important since it's quite common for parents of defiant children to be stuck in a pattern where they spend most of their time nagging, berating, or lecturing their ODD child.This creates an atmosphere where your child expects every word you say to be something he is not interested in hearing.

At the same time that are working on increasing the positive things you say to your child, you will also work on reducing the negative things you say to your child as well. This doesn't mean, of course, that you're going to let your child do whatever they want.

It does mean, however, that you will pick one or two things to work on, and leave the rest for later. This could mean that you will choose to focus on reducing the amount of physical fighting, or verbal name-calling.

The next step involves changing how you point out your child's misbehavior. Instead of criticizing, making character judgments, or stating that this is the hundredth time you've warned your child not to do this, simply state the behavior that you see, and tell the child what behavior you expect to see next time.

For example ,let's say your child is swearing at his sister with language even a hardened prisoner would blush at. First, you need to defuse the situation. Remove the sister from the room, and if possible, the child. If the child refuses to leave the room-and this is entirely possible-you can make yourself unavailable to him. Go to the bathroom, go mow the lawn, start tackling that garage sale you've been thinking about.

The most important thing about this strategy is that you are removing yourself and other bystanders from the area, and you are absolutely not engaging in any arguments or discussions with your ODD child.

Take my word for it; this will be difficult. Defiant children are simply masters at drawing you into a discussion with them so that they can get what they want. This is exactly what you want to avoid. If they talk to you, you can simply say, "I will not tolerate verbal abuse in this house. I need to see people speaking respectfully to each other."

If your child persists in discussing the issue -and they probably will-you can add, "if you want to talk about it later, we can do it at (pick a time)." Whenever your child continues to bring up the topic, you simply repeat what you said earlier.

This is the broken record approach. Even if your child insists on coming back to discuss things with you, it ensures that you won't get entrapped in another argument with them.

At the appointed time, you should approach your child to talk about what happened. Explain to him that you have a limited amount of time you can speak to him, and that after that time the subject will be closed. Ten minutes is usually more than enough time, but if not you can always agree to meet with them the next day.

You should also explain that half of the time will be spent on hearing his version of what happened, and the rest will be spent on trying to make sure it doesn't happen again. Be careful not to let this situation turn into a gripe session. You want your ODD child to learn how to problem solve, not just complain.

During the problem solving component, you'll help your child focus on what they can do to. If they say, "Kiersey should stop touching my stuff and then I'll leave her alone," you'll respond: "I need you to tell me what you will do, not Kiersey." If they give you a response, even if it is a lousy one, just accept it and say, "okay, that's one possibility, let's think of one more." Then help them think what might happen if they carry through with both possibilities.

End the session by explaining that you expect your child to try out one of the solutions the next time the a similar situation occurs, and that you will meet with them and talk about whether or not it was a workable situation. Even if the session ends without any real workable solutions, your child will have learned that the situation does require one-and that they are responsible for finding it.

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Defiant Child: How to Discipline Your ODD Child – Part 1
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  • Rachel Dec 12,2012 at 12:31 pm

    Hey Joe, thanks for stopping by. Glad some of this is helpful to you.

    I think there are two things going on here. First, I would see what you can do about making sure he can’t access those things: most phones, computers, etc. have a code you can use so that only the person with the code can access the item. You don’t have to keep it on all the time – only when you go to bed or are otherwise not around.

    The second thing, is that it sounds to me that you’d be better off using consequences that are time-limited. For example, “You can’t use the phone until you clean up your room.” This is different than saying, “You didn’t clean your room like I told you, so now you can’t use the phone today.” When you take something away from a child, and give them no chance to correct their behavior, you’ve taken away a learning opportunity for them.

    These kids need plenty of opportunities to make the right choice about their behavior, and by telling them that they can get x when they do y, they have a chance to make that choice. However, when you tell them, “you didn’t do x so you lose y,” they can’t fix what they’ve done. That tends to make them angry and sneaky.

    So you should have a list of consequences and rewards, but try as much as you can to tie them to an activity that will take place in the future. And if you find your child having a hissy fit, being sneaky, or otherwise not going with the plan, you can have a separate consequence that will serve as a “punishment.” This would be one that is lost once and that’s it, not one that goes on forever, like being grounded for a month.

    The other thing I would suggest is to make sure your son has plenty of opportunities to get points. Make sure to include on your list of behaviors things that you know he does already, or that are easy for him. These don’t have to be worth an inordinate amount of points, but he should get something for them. Things that are harder for him to do, you can explain, are worth more, just like in real life.

    Hope this helps, Joe. Let me know how it works out.

  • Joe Dec 11,2012 at 2:29 pm

    Thanks for the ideas… I’ve put a point system in place for my son… it’s been almost two weeks and it is working better than other tactics (but it’s early yet). I like your ideas – do you have any additional ideas, tactics for when a child keeps defying things. My son likes to take his phone to bed or wait until we are all asleep to do something he wants… (watch TV, use phone, etc.) – I’ll take the phone the next day (if I know about it) for 3 days but I think I need other ideas as well.

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