How to Prepare Teachers for Your Child with Oppositional Defiant Disorder

"My son has Oppositional Defiant Disorder and ADHD. Should I give his teacher (and tutor) some strategies to deal with him in the classroom (starts on Mon.)? If so, what can I tell her?"

Yes, definitely give the teacher some ideas to deal with your son effectively. The school can be a great ally in keeping your youngster with Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) safe and successful in the classroom, but you will need to make sure that the teachers have all the knowledge they need to help.

Use the suggestions below to create an information sheet to bring teachers “up to speed.”

23 Things Your ODD Child’s Teachers Should Know -- Information Sheet:
  1. Allow sharp demarcation to occur between academic periods, but hold transition times between periods to a minimum.
  2. Allow my child to redo assignments to improve his score or final grade.
  3. Ask me, his mother, what works at home.
  4. Avoid “infantile” materials to teach basic skills. Materials should be positive and relevant to my child’s life.
  5. Avoid making comments or bringing up situations that may be a source of argument for my child.
  6. Call me with questions or concerns as often as needed.
  7. Choose your battles carefully with my child. Selecting a couple of areas to focus on will work better than fighting over each and every behavioral issue.
  8. Clear, simply stated rules work better for my child than abstract rules and expectations.
  9. Give 2 choices when decisions are needed. State them briefly and clearly.
  10. If there will be any sort of change in my child's classroom or routine, please notify me as far in advance as possible so that we can all work together in preparing her for it.
  11. Make sure academic work is at the appropriate level. When work is too hard, my child becomes frustrated. When it is too easy, he becomes bored. Both reactions lead to problems in the classroom.
  12. Use of individualized instruction, cues, prompting, the breaking down of academic tasks, debriefing, coaching, and providing positive incentives.
  13. Minimize downtime and plan transitions carefully. My ODD child does best when kept busy.
  14. My child has significant challenges, but he also has many strengths and gifts. Please use these to help him have experiences of success.
  15. Pace instruction. When my child has completed a designated amount of a non-preferred activity, reinforce his cooperation by allowing him to do something he prefers or find more enjoyable or less difficult.
  16. Please keep the lines of communication open between our home and the school. My child needs all the adults in her life working together.
  17. Post the daily schedule my child knows what to expect.
  18. Praise my child when he responds positively.
  19. Provide consistency, structure, and clear consequences for my child‘s behavior.
  20. Remember that children with ODD tend to create power struggles. Try to avoid these verbal exchanges. State your position clearly and concisely.
  21. Select material that encourages student interaction. My ODD child needs to learn to talk to his peers and to adults in an appropriate manner. However, all cooperative learning activities must be carefully structured.
  22. Structure activities so my child is not always left out or is the last one picked.
  23. Systematically teach social skills, including anger management, conflict resolution strategies, and how to be assertive in an appropriate manner. Discuss strategies that my child can use to calm himself when he is feeling his anger escalating. Do this when he is calm.

Information sheet tips:
  • In your note, focus on the ways that using strategies appropriate to your youngster's special needs will make things easier for the teacher, rather than insisting on rights and obligations.
  • Keep your tone friendly, helpful and no-nonsense. You are writing as an expert on your child and his diagnosis, not as a pushy, demanding parent.
  • Make a copy of all correspondence for your records. Using a datebook or a contact log, jot down when and what you sent to teachers, and what follow-up you made.
  • Remember, the start of school is a hectic time for the teacher. Even with the best intentions, he/she may not want to spend his/her free time reading tons of material. If you can put together an information sheet (like the one above) that looks manageable, you will stand a much better chance that the teacher will actually follow the instructions listed.

==> My Out-of-Control Child: Help for Parents with ODD Children

Help for Grandparents Raising Grandchildren


I have a daughter who has been a problem since the age of 15 …she is now 27yrs …has a 2yr old daughter …she dumped the child and went to stay with boyfriend …doesn’t even contribute a cent to this child and I find myself having to start all over again raising a child. I don’t like this situation, but I feel sorry for the child …what can I do in this situation?


Many grandparents today are stepping in to raise their grandchildren when the kid's own parents are not able or willing to do so. In fact, the U.S. Census of 2000 found that over 2.4 million grandparents have responsibility for their grandchildren.

If you are one of these grandparents, you have made numerous sacrifices in order to provide a better life for your grandchildren. What are some things you can do now to provide the best possible care for your grandchildren while still preserving your own health and well-being?

Often, grandparents take on this obligation when the grandchild's own parents abandon them or when the kids can no longer live with them because of the parent's mental disorder, substance abuse, or incarceration. Thus, you may have the added burden of caring for kids who suffered from abuse or neglect from their own parents. These kids may feel insecure and afraid; they may be angry at their situation -- and even embarrassed by it. It will take time for these kids to feel safe and secure. You can encourage these good feelings and ease their adjustment to their new home in a number of ways:
  • Help your grandchildren to feel that they are "home" by making room for them and their belongings. Your home needs to be welcoming, safe, and child-friendly.
  • Practice positive discipline that emphasizes education, not punishment, and that rewards good behavior with praise.
  • Set up a daily routine of mealtimes, bedtime, and other activities so that the kids have some predictability in their lives.
  • Set up a few rules, and explain the rules to the kids. Then, enforce them consistently.
  • Work on communication skills. Talk to your grandchildren, and make sure that the kids know that they can always talk to you.

Building new relationships can be difficult. Sometimes, it helps to find things that you can do with your grandchildren to nurture your relationship and to make them feel secure and happy in their new home. Here are some ideas:
  • Get computer savvy. If you don't have your own computer, use the one at the public library. The library may have classes or other free help for you. You'll find lots of things that you and your grandchildren can do on the computer, from games to school research.
  • Join a group. There are many local support groups for grandparents raising grandchildren, and a number of these groups also provide activities for the kids. You might also find welcoming groups at your place of worship or in the local schools or library.
  • Read. Kids love to hear stories, and even older kids may surprise you by sitting quietly as you read aloud. Kids who see you read have a better chance of becoming readers themselves.
  • Take up a sport or other outdoor activity. Kids of all ages need to be active. Physical activity may help your grandchildren feel better and develop a healthy lifestyle, and it can be an important stress reliever for you.
If you're feeling stressed, overwhelmed, and unhappy, you are not going to be able to provide the best care for your grandchildren. It's important that you take care of yourself and not allow yourself to be overwhelmed by your parental responsibilities. Here are some suggestions:
  • Find a support group—either a group specifically for grandparents raising grandchildren or some other support group where you can share your challenges with others who will understand.
  • Learn to say "no." You don't have time to do everything. Learn to make priorities, and eliminate the unnecessary tasks in your life.
  • Take a break. A short time away from your grandchildren may give you some time to relax. Look for a trusted adult who can babysit or take over while you're out.
  • Take a parenting class. A class may help you to feel more comfortable with your status as a caregiver for young kids. It will also provide resources in the form of your teacher and the other students in the class.
  • Talk to someone. This could be a friend or relative or a professional, such as a counselor, family doctor, or someone at your church or temple. Unburdening yourself can be a stress reliever.
There is a lot of useful free information for grandparents. Much of it is available on the Internet. If your computer skills are a little rusty, you can find help at your public library. Here are some places to start:
  • The University of Wisconsin Extension produced a series of factsheets titled Through the Eyes of a Child—Grandparents Raising Grandchildren.
  • The University of Georgia College of Family and Consumer Sciences has a website that carries links to all kinds of factsheets on child development, including easy-to-understand factsheets for grandparents raising grandchildren.
  • Generations United runs their own National Center on Grandparents and Other Relatives Raising Children, which offers information and resources.
  • For help that can be located in your particular State, there is a series of factsheets that have been produced by a national partnership among the Children's Defense Fund, AARP, Casey Family Programs, National Center for Resource Family Support, Brookdale Foundation, Child Welfare League of America, Generations United, the Urban Institute, and Johnson & Hedgpeth Consultants.
  • AARP runs a Grandparent Information Center, where you can sign up for their newsletter, check their message board, and search for a local support group.

Good luck!

==> My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents

Should You File Criminal Charges Against Your Own Teenager?!

Hi, I am just getting started with your program. Thanks for all the work you have put into it. I plan to put my work into it!

Five days ago I found several receipts where my 17 yo daughter (will be 18 in 3 mos.) has used my debit card to take money from our bank account. I also found a check where she forged my husband’s name. She admitted to it. We told her we were either going to send her away to get help for this and all the other problems she is involved in OR that we were going to file charges against her.

She emailed us after the confrontation (where we both remained poker faced). She begged not to be sent away, acknowledged that she needed to changed, and took verbal responsibility for her actions and apologized for blaming us for her behavior. Yeah, very heartwarming, but as you say, and as I already know: THEY LIE.

Now my husband has changed his mind and does not want to follow thru with filing charges. He does not want to get involved in the "system". My heart does not want to put her thru the ordeal of filing charges etc., but my intellect says she must face the consequences and that it is better to face them now as a juvenile rather than LATER as an adult. getting involved with the "system" the best consequence or should we do a 3 day grounding and have her work at home to pay us back for the money she spent (~$100)....or both?......or something else? (By the way....last night she took my husband’s cell phone---she currently has no cell phone privileges---and she ran up 50 text messages...and of course WE pay for that service so that is AGAIN what I consider stealing)

Thanks you in advance for your advice and direction. ~ S.


Hi S.,

Unfortunately, deciding to not file charges is just another form of over-indulgence. You want to set up a system where you model for your child how the “real world” operates -- and in the “real world,” when you steal and get caught – there are legal ramifications (in this case, it would be a felony if she were an adult).

I would follow through and file charges. Short-term mild pain now will be much better than long-term major pain later. If she were truly sorry, she wouldn’t have taken your husband’s cell phone after getting busted the first time.

I'm sure she's sorry, though (sorry she got caught).

==> My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents

How do I get my over-achieving daughter to slow down?

"I have taken the quiz and surprisingly found that I was a severely over indulgent parent. This angers me because I didn't think...