Parenting Skills for Children With ODD

When your child receives a diagnosis of oppositional defiant disorder, you may simultaneously get an explanation for all of the parenting struggles you’ve been experiencing while you instantly have many more questions and concerns about parenting your child 1. It will be important to develop strong parenting skills to care for your child with ODD.

Strong, Loving Connection

The connection between you and your child will need to be a strong and loving one, according to the Boston Children’s Hospital website. As the parent and the more mature part of this relationship, you must set the tone and pace for the relationship. Strive to find positive ways to encourage and praise your child when you see desired behaviors and actions to help motivate your child and keep as much positive energy flowing as possible. Look for ways to engage in enjoyable leisure and recreational activities with your child as well.


A predictable routine will be of paramount importance for a child with ODD, states the Foothills Behavioral Health Partners website. Structure and predictability breed security and help a child understand expectations and boundaries. Keep household routines structured, with meals, sleep, recreation and responsibilities occurring at predictable times every day. Create clear rules for conduct and expectations and enforce the rules consistently so your child understands the rules and knows what will happen if he fails to comply.

Positive Example

The way you conduct yourself, both with your child and whenever your child observes you, can have a powerful effect on your child’s behavior. Show your child how you want her to behave by modeling this behavior consistently. It may be beneficial to deescalate potential issues to show your child how to avoid conflict, advises Marilyn Adams, LMFT, with Guidance Facilitators. Children with ODD often try to provoke others, so avoiding conflict can set a positive example while avoiding confrontations. Stay calm, resist arguing, maintain your stance and avoid entering into a conflict with your child. Your positive example will also teach your child that arguing with you is ineffective.

Ignoring Versus Acting

There may be times when ignoring your child’s misbehavior is the best course of action to take, advises the Boston Children’s Hospital. When behaviors are inconsequential and annoying, such as complaining about tasks or mild teasing of siblings, ignoring the behavior will avoid giving it too much power and attention. Instead, wait for behaviors you want to encourage and then praise them. On the other hand, act swiftly to deliver consequences for serious misbehavior, such as flagrant rule-breaking, verbal abuse or destroying someone else’s property. Removing privileges and possessions, such as electronics, time with friends and television, can be effective. Require your child to earn these privileges and possessions back with positive behavior.