How to Discipline A Child With Oppositional Defiant Disorder

Oppositional Defiant Disorder is characterized by vindictiveness, defiant behaviour, the need to argue, and increased irritability and anger. Despite these traits, children with oppositional defiant disorder are not typically aggressive. They will not normally cause intentional harm to themselves, others, or animals.

As a parent, especially one who is new to dealing with behavioral disorders, how to discipline a child with Oppositional Defiant Disorder can be difficult to figure out. The following tips can help you enforce positive behavior, and effectively discipline bad behavior.

Focus On The Positive

Positive reinforcement is important for all children, but can make quite the difference in children with ODD. If you try to focus on rewarding their positive actions, they will be more likely to commit to those actions.

Praise and acknowledgment will teach the child what behaviors you are expecting from them, and the feeling they get from that praise and acknowledgment will make them want to repeat whatever behaviors warranted it.

Stay Consistent

For children with behavioral disorders, consistency is extremely important. Ensure that whichever type of consequence the child is receiving for poor behavior is consistent every time the child behaves that way.

This way, they will be able to link the behavior with a negative reaction and unwanted punishment. Knowing what to expect if they behave poorly will help deter them from behaving that way, as they will not want to consequence that follows.

Stay Calm

Children with ODD that are acting out are probably already angry or irritated, and reacting to that with your own anger and irritability will only escalate the situation. Instead, speak calmly to them when enforcing a consequence, and try to explain to them why their behavior is not appropriate.


It may take a few tests, but try to find a consequence that is effective for your child. This means something that is age appropriate, and something that they will associate as negative.

For example: being sent to their room may not be an effective consequence if they have enjoyable things to do in their room, such as toys to play with or books to read. This is because they will not care if they are sent to their room, and therefore, the consequence will not be enough to deter the bad behavior.

Consistency, calmness and effectiveness are only a few tips on how to discipline a child with Oppositional Defiance Disorder. These tips can help reinforce positive behaviors and reduce negative behaviors in a child that suffers from ODD, but are also effective tips for disciplining any child.

Any parent that is new to dealing to behavioral disorders such as ODD should primarily seek advice from a psychiatric professional, but should also try to implement these actions when having to discipline their child.

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