Teaching students with Oppositional Defiant Disorder [ODD] will be -- let me repeat that -- WILL BE the most challenging aspect of your teaching career. However, if you have a few special tools in your teaching toolbox, getting through to the ODD child can be simplified, saving you from (a) headaches in the short run and (b) total "burn-out" in the long run.
Tips for teaching students with Oppositional Defiant Disorder [ODD]:
1. Address concerns privately. This will help to avoid power struggles as well as an audience for a potential power struggle.
2. Allow the ODD child to redo assignments to improve his/her score or final grade.
3. Always listen to the ODD child. Let him/her talk. Don't interrupt until he/she finishes.
4. Ask parents what works at home.
5. Avoid all power struggles with the ODD child. They will get you nowhere. Thus, try to avoid verbal exchanges. State your position clearly and concisely and choose your battles wisely.
6. Avoid making comments or bringing up situations that may be a source of argument for the ODD child.
7. Choose your battles carefully. Selecting a couple of areas to focus on will work better than fighting every behavior problem.
8. Decide which behaviors you are going to ignore. Most kids with ODD are doing too many things you dislike to include all of them in a behavior management plan. Thus, target only a few important behaviors, rather than trying to fix everything.
9. Do not take the defiance personally. Remember, you are the outlet and not the cause for the defiance- unless you are shouting, arguing or attempting to handle the child with sarcasm.
10. Establish a rapport with the ODD youngster. If this youngster perceives you as reasonable and fair, you'll be able to work more effectively with him or her.
11. Establish clear classroom rules. Be clear about what is nonnegotiable.
12. Give the ODD child some classroom responsibilities. This will help him/her to feel a part of the class and some sense of controlled power. If he/she abuses the situation, the classroom responsibilities can be earned privileges.
13. If there will be any sort of change in the ODD youngster's classroom or routine, notify the parents as far in advance as possible so that they can work with you in preparing their youngster for the change.
14. If you react too emotionally, you may make big mistakes in dealing with the ODD youngster. Plan in advance what to do when this child engages in certain behaviors and be prepared to follow through calmly.
15. In the private conference be caring but honest. Tell the ODD child calmly what it is that is causing problems as far as you are concerned. Be sure you listen as well. In this process, insist upon one rule- that you both be respectful.
16. Keep the lines of communication open between home and the school. The ODD youngster needs all the adults in his/her life working together.
17. Make sure academic work is at the appropriate level. When work is too hard, children become frustrated. When it is too easy, they become bored. Both reactions lead to problems in the classroom.
18. Make this child a part of any plan to change behavior. If you don't, you'll become the enemy.
19. Minimize downtime and plan transitions carefully. Children with ODD do best when kept busy.
20. Never raise your voice or argue with this child. Regardless of the situation do not get into a "yes you will" contest. Silence is a better response.
21. Pace instruction. When the child with ODD completes a designated amount of a non-preferred activity, reinforce his/her cooperation by allowing him/her to do something they prefer or find more enjoyable or less difficult.
22. Post the daily schedule so the ODD child will know what to expect.
23. Praise children when they respond positively.
24. Provide consistency, structure, and clear consequences for the child’s behavior.
25. Select materials that encourage child interaction. Children with ODD need to learn to talk to their peers and to adults in an appropriate manner. All cooperative learning activities must be carefully structured, however.
26. Structure activities so the child with ODD is not always left out or is the last person picked.
27. Systematically teach social skills, including anger management, conflict resolution and how to be assertive in an appropriate manner. Discuss strategies that the child may use to calm him/ or herself down when they feel their anger escalating. Do this when the child is calm.
28. The ODD youngster has significant challenges, but he also has many strengths and gifts. Use these to help him have experiences of success.
29. When decisions are needed, give two choices or options. State them briefly and clearly. Children with ODD are more likely to complete or perform tasks that they have chosen. This also empowers them to make other decisions.
30. When you see an ODD youngster getting frustrated or angry, ask if a calming down period would help. But don't force it on him/her. Rather than sending the child down to the office for this cooling down period, it may be better to establish an isolated “calming down” place in the classroom so he/she can more readily re-engaged in classroom activity following the cooling down period.
My Out-of-Control Child: Help for Parents and Teachers Who Deal with ODD Children