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Things To Avoid With Oppositional Defiant Children

Updated: Jul 6, 2023

Things to avoid with oppositional defiant children (ODD)

I recently heard Amelia Bowler, a parent and Board Certified Behavioral analyst, talking about her book The Parents Guide to Oppositional Defiant Disorder. I would like to recommend this book to parents with children who have difficulty with authority and complying with demands.

After listening to Mrs. Bowler’s ideas, I would like to share some tips we should avoid, helpful for parents and teachers alike.

• Being too authoritarian may lead to “Counter-Control” by the child who is afraid of losing control. Therefore, it is recommended to avoid imposing or giving commands.

• "I win – you lose" situation where authority wins, and the other loses; or the other way around.

• Conditional statements “If … than….”. Children with oppositional behavior will probably prefer to lose their reinforcer (access to what you think could be a preferred activity) but stay in control vs following the rule “if… than” i.e., if you finish your homework, you can use the tablet."

• Ignoring a child who appears in distress and anxious may lead to feelings of loneliness and rejection.

• Asking questions or expecting a child to make choices whenever they are already showing signs of emotional deregulation.

• Aversive tactics and escalating to punishment.


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