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Parenting Strategies for Oppositional Defiant Children

author image Rachel Nall
Rachel Nall began writing in 2003. She is a former managing editor for custom health publications, including physician journals. She has written for The Associated Press and "Jezebel," "Charleston," "Chatter" and "Reach" magazines. Nall is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of Tennessee.
Parenting Strategies for Oppositional Defiant Children
A father talking with his daughter after a time out. Photo Credit Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/Getty Images


Oppositional defiant disorder is a condition where normal child behaviors extend beyond simply seeking to express independence. Children with this disorder are disruptive at both at home and school and exhibit negative behaviors for more than six months, according to the Mayo Clinic. Oppositional defiant children can be hostile and disobedient and may regularly exhibit temper tantrums or refuse to perform tasks. Coping with an oppositional defiant child can be mentally draining—however, there are methods that can help.

Model Good Behavior

You are your child’s best role model—for this reason, you should make efforts to exhibit the behaviors you desire for your child to act out, according to the Mayo Clinic. Keep calm and make efforts to avoid disagreements, aggressive physical behavior and combativeness with your child. To continue to remain patient, you should always take some time for yourself each day. Taking a walk, reading a good book or meditating can help to clear your mind and re-energize you.

Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is valuable for your child because it rewards him for good behavior instead of punishing him for bad, according to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. This includes teaching your child the best way to behave at home and at school, and rewarding him with praise when he performs well. The praise should be such that he desires to continue modeling good behaviors. Explain specifically what your child did well and respond enthusiastically, which will enhance your child’s self-esteem, according to ADDitude magazine.

When he does not model good behavior, use patience and remain calm when attempting to correct the behavior. Always explain the consequences your child will experience if he does not behave correctly, according to ADDitude magazine. This can include a time-out or reducing a reward for the day.

Identify Sources of Stress

An estimated 40 percent of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder experience oppositional defiant disorder, according to ADDitude magazine. If undiagnosed in your child, ADHD can cause your child stress because she cannot concentrate and is often getting in trouble. “You have to address the source of the stress—the ADHD symptoms—before turning to behavioral issues,” says Dr. Larry Silver, a psychiatrist at Georgetown University Medical School, in ADDitude magazine.

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