Terrific Tools For Oppositional-Defiant (ODD) Youth And Children
If you are a teacher who finds that "nothing works" to manage some students, this article may help. It's way past time for you to learn about ODD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder.
In college, you probably got very little training on basic mental health, but if you've been teaching for more than five minutes, you know that little bit of training wasn't enough. Here's just a quick peek at what they should have taught you in college about basic juvenile mental health. Be aware however that this article gives you just 1% of what you will need to know in your classroom in order to maintain control and best assist each challenged student.
WHAT DOES "OPPOSITIONAL-DEFIANT" MEAN?
"Oppositional-Defiant" is a mental health diagnosis that describes kids that have consciences but sometimes act like they don't. This diagnosis can only be applied by a mental health professional but will be very important for any youth worker to know and understand. This diagnosis is far more hopeful than "conduct disorder," which means the child lacks a conscience and a real capacity for relationships. While the oppositional-defiant child (ODD) may also appear to have little conscience or relationship capacity, you may be able to improve that with the right approach and methods. With conduct disordered youth, such improvement may not be possible.
** WHAT DOES "OPPOSITIONAL-DEFIANCE" LOOK LIKE?
Oppositional-defiant kids are often some of your most misbehaved students. They may disrupt your class, hurt others, defy authority and engage in illegal or problematic conduct. Though they may look similar to conduct disorders, their bad behavior is usually less severe, less frequent, and of shorter duration. The ODD label is often inaccurately applied as this dynamic can be a difficult concept to grasp and apply. Many ADD youth are also ODD, and boys dominate this category.
**THE 3 AREAS OF HELP FOR ODD YOUTH
The thrust of helping the ODD child must focus on 1) Skill building, plus 2)"Pulling up" that conscience and 3)Improving their relationship skills. For skill building, teaching them how to regulate their anger, actions, peer skills, verbal output, etc. will be critical. But equally important, this child must be aided to care about others and to be guided more by conscience. These are areas we cover extensively in our live and taped workshops, but here are a few of the most effective interventions we give especially for ODD children and teens. These interventions will only focus on stimulating that conscience or "compensating" for it. If you want more than the handful of ideas given here, or, you want to see how to build skills or relationship capacity, the other two crucial aspects to concentrate on with ODD kids, then consider coming to our class or getting some of our books that will deliver hundreds of the solutions you need.
**STRATEGIES TO STIMULATE THE CONSCIENCE OF ODD KIDS
*** To help "pull up" the child's conscience, use this intervention. It can be used pro-actively or reactively (before or after the child has engaged in misbehavior.) For example, let's say the child has stolen the teacher's pen, you can say "I want you to imagine that we're making a video about your life. Are you impressed?" That "uncomfortable sensation that the child may have in reaction to this intervention may be the conscience stirring.
*** Another intervention to stimulate the conscience: after the child has engaged in a problem behavior, such as stealing a pen, as in the example above, ask the child, "So what's your integrity worth to you?"
*** To adapt the intervention shown above for young children, simply rephrase the question to "So what's people believing in you, worth to you?" Or, rephrase it to "So what's people trusting you, worth to you?"
*** Before a child undertakes a problem behavior, ask the youth to imagine that s/he will read about that act on the cover of the local newspaper in the morning. Ask the child their reaction. If they say that they wouldn't want to read about it in the newspaper, the next morning, then you can say "Then don't do it!" This image makes a fast and easy guide for kids to follow to evaluate whether or not to do questionable behaviors. This intervention is a good choice to use with children whose conscience provides little guidance.
Remember: you've just gotten a tiny portion of the information you need on ODD students. Please be sure to read more, go to a training, or otherwise update your skills. There is no substitute for getting the tools you need for your classroom. Our web site (link above) has more help if you want quick answers.
About the Author: Ruth Herman Wells MS is the director of Youth Change, (http://www.youthchg.com.) See hundreds more of her innovative, problem-stiopping interventions at the Youth Change web site http://www.youthchg.com. Ruth is the author of dozens of books including the
popular Temper and Tantrum Tamers, Turn On the Turned-Off Student, Last Chance School Success Guide
and Maximum-Strength Motivation-Makers. She annually trains hundreds of teachers, counselors and