Support Group for Parents and Teachers

11 Tips for Managing Difficult Students

Anyone who has worked in the classroom for any period of time has experienced a difficult child that has challenged them.

The challenge could be a direct threat, a questioning of authority, even an attempt at turning the children against the teacher. These moments can be very discouraging, disempowering, and even humiliating if you don't have a plan for dealing with these challenging children and situations.

Here are 11 easy tips to help you deal effectively with these situations in a respectful and immediate manner so you can continue with your instruction:

1. Try very hard not to hold grudges. Your children are very forgiving and will often come back the next acting as if you'd never feuded. Take them up on that opportunity and leave yesterday's baggage behind.

2. Take a deep breath. Remember, it's not personal. That challenging student would be showing this behavior to any teacher in front of the classroom. You just happen to the be lucky recipient. A deep breath can help you subdue your ego just enough to deal with the situation in a less emotional manner.

3. Send the difficult child to another classroom. Too many educators use the office as their main form of discipline. This is a self-defeating tool. Children will learn that if they want to get out of your class, they can just act out and you'll oblige them by sending them out! Instead, form alliances with nearby educators. When you are having difficulty with a student, tell them to go to that teacher's class. I recommend they stay there for the duration of your class. The next day, act as if nothing happened. Move forward.

4. Repeat your directions (while maintaining eye contact). This will allow the difficult child another chance at complying with your request.

5. Maintain eye contact with the student presenting the challenge. Occasionally this requires you to move in order to meet this child's eyes.

6. Joke with your children. Laughter helps the brain grow and stimulates learning. Take the chance to share a laugh with your children whenever possible.

7. Implement a positive-reinforcement behavior management system and reinforce appropriate behavior often. Reward for good behavior, ignore (if possible) bad behavior.

8. Explain the consequences for a child's immediate behavior. Use "if...then" statements to explain what will happen. Follow through with your consequences.

9. Establish and post your classroom rules. Teach the children exactly what you expect and remind them of your expectations before problems arise.

10. Avoid arguing. Many of these challenging children are all too used to arguments. That is the style of communication they hear most often at home. Don't feed into the argument. State your request calmly. Ask if he or she understood your request. And state, "This is not a discussion."

11. Allow children a choice. "You can sit down, or you can sit out of recess."

My Out-of-Control Child: Parenting Children with ODD

Teaching Students with Conduct Disorder

Kids and teens with conduct disorder are highly visible, demonstrating a complicated group of behavioral and emotional problems. Serious, repetitive, and persistent misbehavior is the essential feature of this disorder.

These behaviors fall into 4 main groups: aggressive behavior toward people or animals, destruction of property, deceitfulness or theft, and serious violations of rules.

To receive a diagnosis of conduct disorder, a youngster or adolescent must have displayed 3 or more characteristic behaviors in the past 12 months. At least 1 of these behaviors must have been evident during the past 6 months.

Diagnosing conduct disorder can be a dilemma because kids are constantly changing. This makes it difficult to discern whether the problem is persistent enough to warrant a diagnosis. In some cases, what appears to be conduct disorder may be a problem adjusting to acute or chronic stress. Many kids with conduct disorder also have learning disabilities and about 1/3 are depressed. Many kids stop exhibiting behavior problems when they are treated for depression.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that between 6 and 16 percent of males and 2 to 9 percent of females under age 18 have conduct disorder that ranges in severity from mild to severe.

Other serious disorders of childhood and adolescence commonly associated with conduct disorder are attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD) or oppositional defiant disorder (ODD). The majority of kids and teens with conduct disorder may have lifelong patterns of antisocial behavior and be at higher risk for a mood or anxiety disorder. But for many, the disorder may subside in later adulthood.

The social context in which a student lives (poverty or a high crime area, for example) may influence what we view as antisocial behavior. In these cases, a diagnosis of conduct disorder can be misapplied to individuals whose behaviors may be protective or exist within the cultural context.

A youngster with suspected conduct disorder needs to be referred for a mental health assessment. If the symptoms are mild, the student may be able to receive services and remain in the regular school environment. More seriously troubled kids, however, may need more specialized educational environments.

Symptoms or Behaviors—

• Bullying or threatening classmates and other children
• Destruction of property
• Frequent physical fights; use of a weapon
• History of frequent suspension
• Little empathy for others and a lack of appropriate feelings of guilt and remorse
• Low self-esteem masked by bravado
• Lying to peers or teachers
• Poor attendance record or chronic truancy
• Stealing from peers or the school

Educational Implications—

Children with conduct disorder like to engage in power struggles. They often react badly to direct demands or statements such as: “You need to...” or “You must...” They may consistently challenge class rules, refuse to do assignments, and argue or fight with other children. This behavior can cause significant impairment in both social and academic functioning. They also work best in environments with high staff/student ratios, 1-to-1 situations, or self-contained programs when there is plenty of structure and clearly defined guidelines. Their frequent absences and their refusal to do assignments often leads to academic failure.

Instructional Strategies and Classroom Accommodations—

• Avoid “infantile” materials to teach basic skills. Materials should be age-appropriate, positive, and relevant to children’ lives.
• Avoid escalating prompts such as shouting, touching, nagging, or cornering the student.
• Be aware that adults can unconsciously form and behaviorally express negative impressions of low-performing, uncooperative children. Try to monitor your impressions, keep them as neutral as possible, communicate a positive regard for the children, and give them the benefit of the doubt whenever possible.
• Consider the use of technology. Children with conduct disorder tend to work well on computers with active programs.
• Establish clear classroom rules. Rules should be few, fair, clear, displayed, taught, and consistently enforced. Be clear about what is nonnegotiable.
• Give the student options. Stay away from direct demands or statements such as: “You need to...” or “you must....”
• Have your children participate in the establishment of rules, routines, schedules, and expectations.
• Make sure curriculum is at an 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.
• Maximize the performance of low-performing children through the use of individualized instruction, cues, prompting, the breaking down of academic tasks, debriefing, coaching, and providing positive incentives.
• Remember that kids with conduct disorder like to argue. Maintain calm, respect, and detachment. Avoid power struggles and don’t argue.
• Remember that praise is important but needs to be sincere.
• Structure activities so the student with conduct disorder is not always left out or the last one picked.
• Children with conduct disorder often do well in programs that allow them to work outside the school setting.
• Systematically teach social skills including anger management, conflict resolution strategies, and how to be assertive in an appropriate manner. For example, discuss strategies that the children may use to calm themselves when they feel their anger escalating. Do this when the children are calm.

Classroom Discipline 101

Classroom Management Strategies for Difficult Students

Surveys of graduates of education schools and colleges indicate that the #1 area of concern of new educators is their feelings of inadequacy in managing classrooms.

Despite clinical experiences, student teaching, and other observations in classroom settings, this problem has persisted for decades. There is no magic elixir that will confer skill in this area of professional responsibility. We only wish there were.

Classroom management and management of child conduct are skills that educators acquire and hone over time. These skills almost never "jell" until after a minimum of few years of teaching experience. To be sure, effective teaching requires considerable skill in managing the myriad of tasks and situations that occur in the classroom each day. Skills such as effective classroom management are central to teaching and require "common sense," consistency, a sense of fairness, and courage.

These skills also require that educators understand in more than one way the psychological and developmental levels of their difficult students. The skills associated with effective classroom management are only acquired with practice, feedback, and a willingness to learn from mistakes. Sadly, this is often easier said than done. Certainly, a part of this problem is that there is no practical way for education students to "practice" their nascent skills outside of actually going into a classroom setting. The learning curve is steep, indeed.

As previously mentioned, personal experience and research indicate that many beginning educators have difficulty effectively managing their classrooms. While there is no one best solution for every problem or classroom setting, the following principles, drawn from a number of sources, might help. Classroom educators with many years of experience have contributed to an understanding of what works and what doesn't work in managing classrooms and the behavior of difficult students. The following information represents some of the things that good classroom educators do to maintain an atmosphere that enhances learning. It is written in straightforward, non-preachy language, and will not drive you to distraction with its length. I think most students appreciate that. With that in mind, I truly hope this information is useful to you.

4 Fundamental Factors—

1. Know what you want and what you don't want.
2. Show and tell your difficult students what you want.
3. When you get something else, act quickly and appropriately.
4. When you get what you want, acknowledge (not praise) it.


While good room arrangement is not a guarantee of good behavior, poor planning in this area can create conditions that lead to problems.

• The teacher must be able to observe all children at all times and to monitor work and behavior. The teacher should also be able to see the door from his or her desk.

• Frequently used areas of the room and traffic lanes should be unobstructed and easily accessible.

• Difficult students should be able to see the teacher and presentation area without undue turning or movement.

• Commonly used classroom materials, e.g., books, attendance pads, absence permits, and student reference materials should be readily available.

• Some degree of decoration will help add to the attractiveness of the room.


• Do not develop classroom rules you are unwilling to enforce.

• Rules and procedures are the most common explicit expectations. A small number of general rules that emphasize appropriate behavior may be helpful. Rules should be posted in the classroom. Compliance with the rules should be monitored constantly

• School-Wide Regulations...particularly safety procedures...should be explained carefully.

• Educators should identify expectations for child behavior and communicate those expectations to difficult students periodically.

• Because desirable child behavior may vary depending on the activity, explicit expectations for the following procedures are helpful in creating a smoothly functioning classroom:

1. Beginning and ending the period, including attendance procedures and what difficult students may or may not do during these times.
2. How children are to answer questions - for example, no student answer will be recognized unless he raises his hand and is called upon to answer by the teacher.
3. Independent group work such as laboratory activities or smaller group projects.
4. Seatwork
5. Teacher-Led Instruction
6. Use of materials and equipment such as the pencil sharpener, storage areas, supplies, and special equipment.

Remember, good discipline is much more likely to occur if the classroom setting and activities are structured or arranged to enhance cooperative behavior.


- The focus is on academic tasks and learning as the central purpose of child effort, rather than on good behavior for its own sake.
- Difficult students must be held accountable for their work.
- Effective teacher-led instruction is free of: Ambiguous and vague terms; Unclear sequencing; Interruptions


- Address instruction and assignments to challenge academic achievement while continuing to assure individual student success.

- Effective classroom managers practice skills that minimize misbehavior.

- Monitor difficult students carefully and frequently so that misbehavior is detected early before it involves many children or becomes a serious disruption.

- Most inappropriate behavior in classrooms that is not seriously disruptive and can be managed by relatively simple procedures that prevent escalation.

- Act to stop inappropriate behavior so as not to interrupt the instructional activity or to call excessive attention to the child by practicing the following un-obstructive strategies:

1. Redirecting the child to appropriate behavior by stating what the child should be doing; citing the applicable procedure or rule. Example: "Please, look at the overhead projector and read the first line with me, I need to see everyone's eyes looking here."
2. Moving close to the offending child, making eye contact and giving a nonverbal signal to stop the offensive behavior.
3. More serious, disruptive behaviors such as fighting, continuous interruption of lessons, possession of drugs and stealing require direct action according to school board rule.
4. Calling a child's name or giving a short verbal instruction to stop behavior.

Assertive Discipline has been used by many schools, and is an effective way to manage behavior.


- Consistency in the application of consequences is the key factor in classroom management.
- Frequent use of punishment is associated with poor classroom management and generally should be avoided.
- In classrooms, the most prevalent positive consequences are intrinsic student satisfaction resulting from success, accomplishment, good grades, social approval and recognition.
- Milder punishments are often as effective as more intense forms and do not arouse as much negative emotion.
- Misbehavior is less likely to recur if a child makes a commitment to avoid the action and to engage in more desirable alternative behaviors.
- Children must be aware of the connection between tasks and grades.
- When used, negative consequences or punishment should be related logically to the misbehavior.


- Correct repeated patterns or mistakes.
- Don't assume they understand something just because it seems simple to you. Simplify, boil down.
- Even when they have lost their accent, they often misunderstand common words and phrases.
- Good E.S.O.L. strategies are good teaching strategies.
- It is easy to misunderstand body language and certain behaviors. For example, eye contact, spitting, chalk eating, etc.
- They are not stupid and they can hear what is being said.. They just don't necessarily understand the language or culture, yet.
- They come from a variety of backgrounds, even in the same country. For example schooled, unschooled, Americanized, etc.


Effective Praise:

1. Attributes student success to effort and ability, implying that similar successes can be expected in the future.
2. Encourages difficult students to appreciate their accomplishments for the effort they expend and their personal gratification.
3. Helps difficult students to better appreciate their thinking, problem-solving and performance.
4. Is delivered contingently upon student performance of desirable behaviors or genuine accomplishment.
5. Is expressed sincerely, showing spontaneity, variety and other non-verbal signs of credibility.
6. Is given for genuine effort, progress, or accomplishment, which is judged according to standards appropriate to individuals.
7. Provides information to difficult students about their competence or the value of their accomplishments.
8. Specifies the praiseworthy aspects of the child's accomplishments.

Ineffective Praise:

1. Attributes student success to ability alone or to external factors such as luck or easy task.
2. Encourages difficult students to succeed for external reasons -- to please the teacher, win a competition or reward, etc.
3. Is delivered randomly and indiscriminately without specific attention to genuine accomplishment.
4. Is expressed blandly without feeling or animation, and relying on stock, perfunctory phrases.
5. Is general or global, not specifying the success.
6. Is given based on comparisons with others and without regard to the effort expended or significance of the accomplishment of an individual.
7. Orients difficult students toward comparing themselves with others.
8. Provides no meaningful information to the children about their accomplishments.

 Classroom Discipline 101

Teaching Difficult Students with Aspergers

Having spent nearly 20 years working with adolescent students who had emotional and /or behavioral disorders, some of the most complex students I worked with were those who had Aspergers.

Aspergers is a neurobiological disorder which is part of the autism spectrum. Most kids and adolescents who are diagnosed with Aspergers are usually very verbal and demonstrate average to above-average IQs.

Aspergers is diagnosed through examining atypical patterns of behavior, activities and interests. Aspergers may affect behavior, senses, and vision and hearing systems. Often kids and adolescents with Aspergers fixate on a single subject or activity (e.g., a youngster may only want to learn about trains).

Students with Aspergers have extreme difficulty with breaks in routine and transitions. They also have very poor social interactions. Most kids and adolescents with Aspergers with demonstrate repetitive movements and sensitivity to light, sound smell and/or touch.

Until recently, it is believed Aspergers was under-diagnosed. This is because many professionals and adults learned to compensate for Aspergers and used their fixations to their advantage.

In a classroom setting, Aspergers may manifest in behaviors which include, but are not limited to:

• Average to excellent memorization skills - may excel in areas such as math or spelling
• Clumsy walk
• Conversations and activities only center around themselves
• Inability to usually socially appropriate tone and/or volume of speech
• Lack of common sense and/or “street smarts”
• Lack of empathy for others
• Lack of facial expressions
• May be teased, bullied or isolated by peers
• Often very verbal
• Poor eye contact
• Talking about only one subject/topic and missing the cues that others are bored

If you have a student in class who has Aspergers, here are some ideas for assisting them:

• Develop a structured classroom with routines - write down the daily routine for the student
• Give the student an outlet for their fixation - For example: if a student finishes and assignment you require for class, allow them to turn work on the topic of their choice for extra credit.
• If/When the student becomes overwhelmed with frustration and experiences a "meltdown", remain calm and use a normal tone of voice to help the student deal with the stress
• Teach appropriate social interactions. Show the student how their words and actions impact others
• Team with moms/dads and other professionals to develop strategies
• Work with other students to develop an environment of tolerance and acceptance for the student with Aspergers

Frustration is a concern for all adolescents, but is multiplied in students experiencing Aspergers. It may be helpful, to get permission to speak with any mental health practitioners who are involved with the youngster. These professionals can help you gain a better understanding of the disorder, and work with you to develop effective interventions for the student in you classroom. Work with them and families to learn the warning signs that a student is being overcome with frustration and about to experience a "melt down". In turn, you provide to the mental health professional beneficial insight into how the youngster acts in and academic setting, which can help the professional treat the youngster in a more holistic manner.

ODD Child Occupies All Of Mother's Time

Parent/Teacher Name = Mommy of a ODD/ADHD child... Comments/Questions = How do I balance my time that my 3 year old needs with house cleaning and personal care (which I don't have much time for). I have to attend to him 24-7. My husband works long hours so it is just me take care of him. Please help!

Answer =

Many parents with young kids can testify to the fact that it is hard to get anything accomplished with a three-year-old at their feet. A toddler requires nearly constant supervision, instant results to his every need and desire, and undivided attention whenever his little heart pleases.

The average attention span for a three-year-old is about 8 minutes. Unfortunately, this doesn't give nearly enough time for the parent to even begin to start on a task before the toddler is once again whining at her feet.

Tips to Increase a Youngster's Attention Span—

The first step to getting a youngster to focus for longer periods is through practice. One of the best ways to do this is through reading books to the youngster. Many kids will find it difficult to sit quietly through a story and each time they do so, their ability to focus if honed and developed.

One of the most crucial steps to increased attention span is to turn off the television. Young kids who spend too much time in front of the TV are more prone to ADHD and ADD once they are school aged. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no TV for kids younger than 2. In many households this is difficult if not an impossibility, especially when there are older kids who have the TV turned on. It may be more realistic to advise limiting the amount of time spent in front of the television to under 2 hours a day.

Preparing Fun Activities for Busy Times—

One of the key strategies to success when trying to occupy a youngster is preparation. Instead of grabbing a piece of paper and some crayons, perhaps one could have a craft station set aside for the youngster. Have an area specifically designated to arts and crafts, organized in easily identifiable baskets or trays. This will ensure a quick "out" when the phone is ringing and an instant solution is needed.

Prepare different bins filled with items that the youngster finds interesting. Perhaps one could hold different stacking toys or even simple plastic containers and lids. Another could be filled with magazine pictures and scissors. This way when the parent is unable to stop her current task, she can pull out a bin in mere seconds and finish what she was doing.

Spending Quality Time—

Obviously one of the greatest needs a youngster has is love and attention. Often, they misbehave simply in an attempt to gain their parents' focus. Therefore, the most successful tool a parent or caregiver has is to sit down each day and interact with the youngster.

Instead of giving them an activity and walking away, parents could color with them; using the opportunity to teach them about shapes and colors. Sometimes it is as simple as getting down on the floor and playing with their favorite car or doll collection. Usually if a youngster receives even just twenty minutes of an adult’s time, she is content to play on her own for a while.

Entertaining a Toddler—

Toddlers have an uncanny ability to require all a parent has to offer them and it can be overwhelming. However, following simple steps to increase their attention span, be prepared, and spending one-on-one time with them each day can help develop kid's growing sense of independence, leaving parents with a little more precious time on their hands.

How long can your youngster pay attention to one activity?

This usually depends on their developmental age. If you have unrealistic expectations of your youngster's attention span, it can often lead to temper tantrums and other upsetting behavior. Keep in mind that whether or not your youngster likes the actual activity, or is sick, tired, or hungry can affect his/her attention span. Here are some guidelines to help you understand the typical lengths of attending behaviors in young kids:

• Ages 8 months - 15 months—Any new activity or event will distract your youngster, but they can usually attend for one minute or a little longer to a single toy or activity.

• Ages 16 months - 19 months—Your youngster might be restless, but is able to sustain attention to one structured activity for 2-3 minutes. Your youngster might not be able to tolerate verbal or visual interference.

• Ages 20 month - 24 months—Your youngster is still easily distracted by sounds, but can stay attentive to an activity either with or without an adult for 3-6 minutes.

• Age 25 - 36 months—Your youngster can generally pay attention to a toy or other activity for 5-8 minutes. In addition, he/she can shift attention from an adult speaking to him/her and then back to what he/she was doing if he/she is prompted to focus her attention.

• Ages 3 - 4 years—Your youngster can usually attend to an activity for 8-10 minutes, and then alternate his/her total attention between the adult talking to him/her and the activity he/she is doing independently.

My Out-of-Control Child: Help for Parents/Teachers with ODD Children/Students

*ODD Support Group for Parents/Teachers

Providing Structure for Oppositional Defiant Children


They keep saying to establish structure in the home but what does that mean? We have a routine and schedule …what structure are they talking about?


Oppositional defiant kids need structure and moms and dads need to provide it. It's amazing to me the number of moms and dads who give their kids an allowance without demanding anything in return from their kids.

I always suggest that moms and dads set up a behavior chart providing their kids with responsibilities. I have the moms and dads put a monetary value on each daily item on the chart. At first, I suggest that the chart be rather short. I have the moms and dads and youngster focus on 4 or 5 areas that need improvement. Each night after dinner, I suggest that the moms and dads review the chart with their youngster. Areas accomplished successfully should be checked off on the chart and rewarded with tokens.

At the end of the week, assuming the youngster has accomplished some tasks, he will get his allowance based upon tasks completed. If the youngster saves the money, I recommend the moms and dads provide their youngster with a 10% monetary bonus. If a youngster displays negative behavior such as prolonged temper tantrums, disrespect toward others or fits of anger, negative consequences should be implemented. For negative consequences, focus on items that your youngster values the most and remove privileges for a reasonable amount of time.

Kids are not usually amenable to being lectured, given moral injunctions, or being coerced into handling responsibilities. A critical issue with parenting is creating a sense of involvement. In this era, a parent must have established a positive relationship with a youngster before being able to promote understanding of the responsibilities the youngster must accomplish. A style of relating based upon mutual respect, encouragement and coaching is essential. Moms and dads need to listen to their kids and give them feedback about different ways of viewing problems and issues.

It is important as a parent that you are consistent in administering a behavioral consequence system. If you can't be consistent, then don't implement a system. It is important that you use the behavioral consequence system as a way of removing yourself from power struggles with your kids. Moms and dads make a major mistake in over explaining themselves to their kids. If you have a rule or consequence, it needs to be enforced, not explained. Moms and dads who try to justify their rules to their kids weaken their parental role.

Moms and dads somehow believe that their kids will not love them if they assert themselves with guidelines for behavior. This is nonsense. Love has nothing to do with it. Kids do not respect a parent who does not set up appropriate boundaries for their conduct. Providing behavioral structure for your kids is a combination of building respect, establishing rules for behavior and developing responsibility in kids.

Here are some guidelines to follow:

1. A defiant and rebellious youngster needs structure. In the beginning of the day, let them know what the schedule is for the day and stick to it as much as possible. When they know what to expect, they know what you expect and it is easier for them to comply.

2. Choose your battles! Know your youngster and know what things drive them. Don't feel like if you let them get away with this or that that they'll feel like they can get away with everything. They really won't and they will look forward to doing the things that they weren't allowed to do last week as long as it is not destructive or hurting anyone of course. Sometimes as moms and dads, we have to learn to let go a little in order to have a little peace and let your youngster grow up a bit.

3. Do not argue or fight with your youngster. Do not stoop to their level. You are the parent! You are the mature one and need to keep your cool. I KNOW it's sooo hard. I've been there and still going through but I also know what works from much experience. I've read all the books on dealing with defiant kids and the example of kids in those books do not even hold a candle to my youngster.

4. Engage in some positive activities with your youngster for at least 30 minutes a day. Start forming a positive relationship of love and respect with your youngster. If they like to draw, draw with them and compliment their work. If they like to play sport, pitch some baseballs to them or shoot some hoops and encourage them with words of affirmation. If they like to play house, you be the youngster and let them be the parent (it can be very funny and a lot of Fun). Whatever it is that they like to do or are good at, do it with them and compliment and affirm them. This will show your youngster that you are interested in who they are and what they like.

5. Have a fabulous rewards system. Whether it's a daily thing or you put up a sticker chart. Have something that the youngster can see that displays how well they are behaving and let them know what the rewards are for good behavior. Rewards can be taking them to the corner store to pick out a snack, to a new toy or a trip to the Zoo.

6. Let your youngster engage in activities with you. Whether it’s raking the lawn, making dinner, or folding the laundry, let them engage with you.

7. Most defiant and rebellious kids have a problem with wanting attention. You may think that they get most of your attention because you are on them all the time for their poor behavior but the truth is, is that is what they want and need if they are ever going to change.

8. Take an evaluation of your youngster. When he/she has an episode of defiance or rebellion, are there any typical events that surround those situations? Did your youngster get a good night’s sleep? Did he/she eat a certain type of food i.e., sugar, food with red dye, caffeine? Did he/she get left out in a group of friends? Did they spend some time at a friend or relatives house recently? Try and think of the events that lead up to this behavior, write it down and see if you can make any connections.

Once you have taken the evaluation, make any adjustments that you think might help. It may be taking a certain food out of the home. Maybe getting them to bed earlier or giving them a nap. Maybe not allowing them to play with a certain friend. It maybe not giving them their Flintstone vitamin or cutting off the caffeine or sugar. It also may be not allowing them to watch a certain show on TV or playing a particular video game. VERY IMPORTANT... change will NOT happen overnight. Once you make an adjustment, stick with for at least 2 weeks to see the effects of it. DO NOT GIVE IN no matter what.

9. Try to adjust your discipline techniques. Instead of spankings, take a toy away, don't let them watch TV, or make them do a household chore. Try time outs in a different way. Don't stick them in their room. Try putting them in a corner, facing the corner and stand there the whole time that they need to be there. If your youngster is defiant, they most assuredly will not just stand there if you just tell them to. You need to be there the whole time to enforce it. KEEP AT IT. DO NOT GIVE UP. Even if it takes you 45 minutes to stand there, facing the corner for 5, do it until it's completed. Show them that you will not back down and that you are the one in charge and in control. I've found that with defiant kids, they do not respond to spankings. I would use that as a last resort if you are a spanker ... but if you're reading this article, I just have to ask... "How's that workin’ for ya?"

My Out-of-Control Child: Parenting/Teaching Children with Oppositional Defiance

*ODD Support Group for Parents/Teachers

How common do ODD teens change their behavior when around others?

Question from Samantha

My 15 yr old son has ADHD & ODD… high anxiety, has controlled his urge to pull out strands of hair eyebrows and eyelashes... had him in good therapy group since he was five... past 11 yrs taken its toll on family... however when son visits my brothers (his uncles)he suppresses his odd urges, yet at home he is a monster… he happens be 2 ft taller than me as well as 200 pounds …what we’ve come to call his "bulling" for hours on end... how common do ODD teens change their behavior when around others.


The symptoms of ODD are usually seen in multiple settings, but are usually more noticeable at home or at school. So it’s not too surprising that an ODD youngster does not “act-out” everywhere he/she goes.

A youngster with ODD can be very difficult for moms and dads. Parents need support and understanding – and can help their youngster in the following ways:

• Always build on the positives, give the youngster praise and positive reinforcement when he shows flexibility or cooperation.
• Maintain interests other than your youngster with ODD, so that managing your youngster doesn’t take all your time and energy. Try to work with and obtain support from the other adults (teachers, coaches, and spouse) dealing with your youngster.
• Manage your own stress with healthy life choices such as exercise and relaxation. Use respite care and other breaks as needed
• Pick your battles. Since the youngster with ODD has trouble avoiding power struggles, prioritize the things you want your youngster to do. If you give your youngster a time-out in his room for misbehavior, don’t add time for arguing. Say “your time will start when you go to your room.”
• Set up reasonable, age appropriate limits with consequences that can be enforced consistently.
• Take a time-out or break if you are about to make the conflict with your youngster worse, not better. This is good modeling for your youngster. Support your youngster if he decides to take a time-out to prevent overreacting.

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

* ODD Support Group for Parents and Teachers

Teaching the Student with Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)

This website covers the "tough topic" of teaching students with Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), which includes a diverse population of children that pose a problem of some sort. While many aspects of annoying children deserve attention, we focus on three archetypal cases to represent the behavioral spectrum of the so-called "ODD student." Specifically, our cases include the following:

1. The hostile, aggressive, angry student
2. The excuse-making student
3. The silent, non-participating student

ODD Student #1: The Hostile Child—

Case Study: Allan shows up to class every day on time, and is apparently intelligent and well-versed in the scientific background of the class. But during class, Allan attacks your position and point of view, and doesn't respect other children' opinions, dismissing them without due consideration. He disagrees with your grading of tests and homework, saying that he deserves a better grade. His criticisms towards you and the other children are personally directed and seemingly unconnected with the material you are covering. Sometimes he mutters something non-verbal under his breath, and this disconcerts the surrounding children.

Solutions: The common thread running through the literature about disgruntled, unhappy, angry children is this: communication. Most of the time, these children simply feel that they are not being heard, being listened to. Giving them a forum, whether during class or in private during office hours, generally resolves whatever conflict is happening within the angry child. The first instinct of the teacher might be to simply ignore them, and while this approach may avoid a public confrontation, it probably won't solve the underlying problem and allow the child to learn the material (McKeachie 1999).

But communication, through the use of journals, minute papers, and other student writings can give you a clue as to the cause of the student's anger. If the class doesn't lend itself to such writings, a direct conversation with the student may reveal something. Listening carefully and respecting the child's opinion is crucial; giving him a voice and an opportunity to present his argument will bring everything into the open, and allow you respond calmly and rationally to his complaints (Downs 1999).

Angry and aggressive children can fall into many categories, including: a) children who violate rules, b) children who have given up, c) children who are manipulative or have a hidden agenda, d) children who don't communicate, e) children who are "at risk," or are being exposed to a dangerous environment, and f) children who push your buttons (Kotler, 1997). And criticism from such a child can seem unwarranted and vicious, especially if it a) is uninvited, b) focuses on an aspect of the talk that seems irrelevant, c) is completely negative, d) has no suggestions for improvement, e) is shrill or sarcastic, and f) is accompanied by attributions such as personality flaws, like "lazy" or "stupid" (Raths, 1986).

But there are solutions. Heslet (1977) proposes that the underlying problem is an inability to recognize different learning styles. He makes a distinction between modes of "linear" and "organic" learning, which roughly correspond to a "passive" and "active" approach to classroom methods. The linear method, preferred by most teachers, is entirely directed by the teacher, and does little to motivate the child. The organic method takes advantage of the children' natural curiosity, and puts more power in the hands of the student, giving him both freedom and a forum to express his opinions.

A more systematic approach is taken by Downs (1992), who proposes several "steps towards harmony" for dealing with angry and oppositional children. The first step acknowledges the fact that some conflicts can arise from the teacher - if the teacher is incorrect or unclear or unjust, and then steps must be taken to rectify the problem. Communication in a private setting is the next logical option, as described above: calm, rational discussion is crucial. Finding a common ground is another good idea - by relating to the child you provide attention to a student who is starved for it, and you also model a professional, courteous attitude for the student to adopt. You can also try a cooperative group activity that encourages social skills, and by laying down guidelines for social interaction you can encourage a respect for other peoples' beliefs. If your child is particularly argumentative, you must try to remain impartial, not taking attacks personally or becoming defensive. Talking with your fellow educators and colleagues can help you brainstorm a solution to the conflict. If the class material is appropriate, you can include problem-solving and conflict-resolution activities into your lectures and discussions. As a last resort, Downs recommends a direct confrontation with the child, giving both teacher and student a chance to voice their concerns. Again, self-control, mutual respect, and diplomacy are crucial.

McKeachie (1999) offers some more alternatives. In particular, if the issue in contention is controversial and worthy of class discussion, presenting the issue to the class can lead to a broader perspective for all involved. Listing the pros and cons without value judgments on the chalkboard can bring out the underlying issues. And if you think there is a chance that the angry child is in fact correct, you can table the issue that day, then report on it again in the next class.

Of course, preventative measures are preferable to reactive, after-the-fact solutions. Aside from the obvious advice of maintaining an atmosphere of respect for everyone's opinions from the very start, there's not much advice for preventing hostile children from expressing themselves. In terms of disputing tests, the best method seems to be requiring a written explanation of why the child's answer is superior to the "right" answer. This technique eliminates the half-hearted grade-grubbers while giving the truly motivated, intelligent, and sometimes belligerent children an opportunity to explore the question in depth. Multiple choice questions should be given with the direction of "Choose the BEST answer" to avoid situations where a question could be answered differently under rare (or impossible) circumstances. Asking another faculty member can give you an impartial judgment to help you decide.

ODD Student #2: The Excuse-Making Child—

Case Study: Julie is a senior who needs to complete only 9 more hours until she can graduate. She is a relatively good student, often making B’s in her courses. She almost always comes to your class and seems to be attentive. She will occasionally enter into the discussion, and seems to grasp the concepts. Julie, however, is often late turning in assignments. She will frequently e-mail you with a reason why her assignment was late. They are often very detailed excuses, including much personal information. For example, when Julie turned in her Reaction Paper a day late, she e-mailed you to say that her cat had died, and she needed to help take the body to the vet. She asked that her paper be accepted and not counted as late, because she couldn’t have foreseen this tragedy.

If this had been the first excuse, it might be easier to believe. Unfortunately, Julie has had bad luck all semester. She had also emailed you the day of the test to ask if she could take the test a day late. Her mother was having surgery in Dallas and she needed to be there. Individually, these excuses seem valid, but as a whole, they become hard-to-believe. What should you, as the teacher, say to Julie regarding her requests to accept her late papers and tests? What can you do at the beginning of the semester to prevent these situations?

Solutions: There are several issues to consider when dealing with the child who makes excuses. First, the key reason why children make excuses is because they are not able to meet the deadline for either a test or an assignment. Most often, the student did not prepare well enough ahead of time to meet the deadline or the task was more difficult than they predicted. Although these children are the minority in the classroom, teachers can spend a substantial amount of time wading through the emails, voice mails, and office visits of a few children’ requests for extensions and acceptances. Sometimes, children experience a crisis that requires them to miss a deadline. As mentioned in McKeachie (1999), it is better to accept an untrue excuse than reject a legitimate one and be seen as unfair. It is also important to be flexible (Downs-Lombardi, 1996). If the goals of the course are being met, flexibility can help children deal with juggling class assignments and emergencies.

However, an teacher does not want to be known as gullible. McKeachie (1999) suggests that you state in your syllabus that you will require evidence supporting extensions. This will mean, however, that the teacher will have to follow through and require the evidence. That may sometimes seem heavy-handed to milder teachers. It may also mean keeping track of which children require which documentation.

Most of the literature agrees that the best solution for dealing with children with excuses is to build in safeguards ahead of time, via the syllabus. For excuses related to late papers, McKeachie (1999) suggests one possibility is to build in a series of graded penalties, based on how late a paper is (e.g., 5 points will be deducted for each day the paper is late). Alternatively, one could offer bonus points for turning in a paper on time. Therefore, all papers are accepted, but because it would be unfair to those who did not have extra time, there is a penalty. The child’s “need” for excuses is reduced because the paper will still be accepted.

Another solution for child excuses is to require children to turn in earlier stages of the assignment (McKeachie, 1999). This helps the student who makes excuses because he or she is not prepared well enough ahead of time. By requiring a reference section, outline, or early draft a week or two before the final paper, children are forced to plan ahead.

For excuses related to missed tests, there are many options for how such policies can be described in the syllabus. In an interview on ODD children, Dr. Ann Repp said that her policy was to give tests late only if she had been notified beforehand. Otherwise, the child would get a zero for the test. Her experience has shown that children who take the test late do not do better than those who take it on time. Others (Dr. Rebecca Bigler, interview; Whitford, 1992) offer an essay only make-up exam to those children who notify them beforehand. Because children consider the test difficult, only those that must tend to miss exams. However, test scores confirm that both original tests and essay make-up exams are comparably difficult.

Another option for dealing with children who must miss a test is to offer an optional, cumulative final. All children who miss a regular test, regardless of the reason, must take the final (the final is also an option for those children just wanting to improve their grades). This option reduces children’ excuses because they are irrelevant– a missed test is a missed test. In other words, regardless of the reason, missing a test requires a child to take the final.

By preparing a thorough syllabus ahead of time, you, as an teacher, will have a set answer for all of Julie’s excuses. For late papers, it may be, “regardless of the reason, all papers will lose 5 points for each day they are late.” For missed tests, it may be, “regardless of the reason, anyone missing a test will need to take the final.” Therefore, although Julie’s emails will still annoy you, your fairness as an teacher will be assured.

ODD Student #3: The Silent Child—

Case Study: Nancy has never missed class. Although she isn’t one of the best children in class, she does well on all of her assignments and has the potential for getting a C, and maybe a B by the end of the semester. Nancy completed a thoughtful research paper that conveyed a clear passion for her chosen topic and included a note at the end of the last page stating that she really enjoyed the assignment. Nancy appears to be somewhat interested during class and demonstrates sufficient knowledge of the course content in her assignments. However, she hasn’t spoken a word since she introduced herself on the first day of class. She surely has something to add to class discussions and lectures, but only listens attentively and takes notes occasionally. What might be keeping Nancy from speaking in class? If you were Nancy’s teacher, how would you encourage Nancy to speak in class and become an active participant? What methods can be used to get children to share their thoughts and ideas with the class?

Solutions: When children sit silent in class, a number of different factors could be to blame: boredom and fatigue, frustration with the course, lack of knowledge, a general expectation for and pattern of passivity in classes, cultural norms, and most often, fear of criticism and embarrassment (McKeachie, p. 54). Regardless of the cause of such silence, the primary difficulty in each of these cases is a lack of free communication.

The specific content and level of difficulty in a course, the composition of children in the classroom itself, and personal characteristics and techniques of the teacher may all affect the occurrence and severity of the problem of silent children, yet every teacher encounters this type of child at some point.

The majority of suggestions provided in the literature emphasize a proactive approach designed to create a comfortable and stimulating environment from the first day of class that works to encourage active participation Required participation may encourage children to feel more committed to a class, if the requirements are reasonable and relevant to the course (Lacoss & Chylack, 1998). For educators who choose to encourage class participation by grading child participation, it is important to make sure that children understand why participation is important to a course and how it can help them. Providing children with a written rationale, detailed expectations, explicit grading criteria, and a feedback form about their current participation grade along with ways that they could improve participation are all important to making required participation effective (Maznevski, 1996; Barnett, 1996).

Many of the most common suggestions for creating a classroom environment in which free communication and active participation exists are aimed at making children feel comfortable and safe in the classroom and help to make active participation easier. Learning child’s names and allowing children to get to know one another can reduce student anxiety about being embarrassed or criticized when they participate. Active learning and small group exercises like the clustering technique (Ventis, 1990), Jigsaw, and Fish Bowl may be effective in helping silent children to take part in class discussion. Silent children may also find other avenues for participation (e.g., email or chat room discussion) a good way to be an active participant even if they do not speak during class.

Another means of encouraging participation is to allow children to consider a provocative question or personal experience, to write down their thoughts, discuss their ideas or responses in pairs or small groups, and then move to a general class discussion. This allows children time to consider questions and issues relevant to discussion, organize their thoughts and ideas, and then share their own ideas based on their writing or those of their group (think-pair-share technique in Kagan, 1994) thus reducing anxiety over criticism directed at their own personal ideas or thoughts. Having student complete a minute paper at the end of class or providing them with a thought question for the upcoming class period can help children to prepare and organize their thoughts for class discussion also.

Child may also be more apt to participate if the teacher asks questions that do not have a single answer, or asks children to think of personal examples or relevant experiences that they can share. Asking children to raise their hands to survey class opinion is also easier than getting children to speak. Furthermore, when children ask questions in class, it can be helpful for the teacher to turn to the other children in the class for input, as opposed to answering the question themselves. Personal interaction with children and interaction between children in a class can be a tremendous help in making child feel “known” and thus more comfortable in participating.

By getting to know children and their personal interests and areas of expertise, educators may call on children to participate in class discussions by adding personal knowledge in one of these areas. Adding to discussion with personal expertise avoids the anxiety of participation in discussion of an area that is new or unfamiliar to children who are wary of speaking in class. Emphasizing the value of active learning and participation, particularly the value of learning from other children, can also help with the problem on non-participating children. McKeachie also suggests the following approaches to silent children: smiling to encourage participation, calling children by name, seating children in a circle, requesting child autobiographies to get to know them, problem posting, buzz groups, and student presentations prepared in consultation with the teacher.

A final approach that may be useful, particularly when 1 or 2 children are silent, yet the majority of the class engages in active participation is to speak to the student(s) directly. Communicating to a child that their input is valuable to you and the rest of the class may also encourage a silent child to participate. Beril Ulku-Steiner at UNC-CH reports that she occasionally uses the following line with persistently, silent children with great success: “Nancy, I enjoy having you in class, but I feel as if you are one of my/our untapped resources. Anything that you might have to share with the class during lectures or discussion is important to the class learning experience so if you ever feel like you can do that I would really appreciate it.”

In sum, research and suggestions from educators themselves suggest that creating a safe and comfortable classroom environment with expected active participation can come from:

• speaking with children about their participation and its value
• making discussion topics relevant
• learning student’s names and helping them get to know one another
• grading participation and providing children with feedback for improvement
• giving children a chance to speak in class, to one another, and via email/classroom sites
• getting to know children and their interests through direct communication
• cooperative and active learning activities


The three cases demonstrate the wide range of ODD student types. However, the approaches to defusing these problem children seemingly center communication and organization. Open interaction between child and teacher through formal and informal feedback allows for a dynamic classroom environment that is beneficial to most individuals involved. Keeping in touch with your students is crucial, on several levels: you look for nods of understanding or grimaces of despair, and you listen to the children when they voice their concerns after class or in office hours. Showing that you respect the children and their varied points of view is just enough to resolve most conflicts before they occur. In addition to communication, organization and preparation can help to avoid problematic issues before they begin. Focusing on the syllabus and establishing "rules of engagement" at the beginning of the course sets the standards in the classroom. The combination of an open dialogue and a clear organization can provide the basis for a structured yet changeable classroom that can meet the needs of both teacher and child.

Each of us has been this kind of child before, frustrated, silent, manipulative, brilliant, totally secure in our previous knowledge… It's just a matter of expanding our perspectives to include all of these mindsets, remembering what we used to be, how we overcame our innocence and our flaws, and helping our children reach the same place.

My Out-of-Control Child: Parenting/Teaching Children with Oppositional Defiant Disorder

* ODD Support Group for Parents and Teachers


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How to Provide Structure in the Classroom for Oppositional, Defiant Children

Effectively teaching kids with Oppositional Defiant Disorder [ODD] can be a very exhausting endeavor – if you don’t know how, that is.

Teaching Rule #1: ODD Kids Need Rules

When designing your classroom rules, keep in mind that your rules must be:

• Enforceable
• Comprehensive
• Clear

And then comes the most important part... you must be consistent in enforcing them all the time, with every child, using predictable and delineated consequences.

Some educators suggest writing the class rules with your ODD children, using their input to create "buy-in" and cooperation. Consider the benefits, though, of strong, educator-determined rules that are not viewed as negotiable by the people who must follow them. Weigh the pros and cons before deciding which method to employ.

State your rules in the positive (no "don'ts") and expect the best from your ODD children. They will rise to the high expectations you set starting from the first minute of the first day of the school year.

Classroom Rules—

1. Come to class prepared.
2. Do your best.
3. Everyone deserves respect.
4. Have a winning attitude.
5. Have fun and learn!


Some educators like to be more specific in their rules, such as "Hands must be kept to yourself at all times." The most important thing is to spend time before the school year starts determining which rules fit your voice, personality, and objectives.

How to Create Behavior Contracts for ODD Children—

Your most difficult students require creative discipline solutions. You know the kids I'm talking about. Every educator has at least one difficult child in her class, a youngster who needs extra structure and incentive to change bad behavior habits. These aren't bad kids, just kids who need a little extra support, structure, and discipline.

Behavior contracts can help you mold the behavior of these ODD children so that they no longer disrupt learning in your classroom. Thus, you can, slowly but surely, take control and see concrete improvement fast.

What Is A Behavior Contract?

A behavior contract is an agreement between the educator, child, and the child's parents that sets limits for child behavior, rewards good choices, and outlines consequences for bad choices. This type of program sends a clear message to the youngster that "This behavior cannot continue. Here is what we need to see from you and here is what you will see in response to your choices in the classroom."

Step 1 - Customize the Contract—

First, make a plan for change. Use the Behavior Contract form below as a guide for the meeting you will soon have with the child and his/her parents. Tailor the form to your particular situation, taking into consideration the personality and preferences of the youngster you are helping.

Step 2 - Set Up a Meeting—

Next, hold a meeting with the involved parties. Perhaps your school has an assistant principal in charge of discipline; if so, invite this person, too. The child and his/her parents should attend as well.

Focus on 1-2 particular behaviors that you would like to see change. Don't try to change everything at once. Take baby steps toward major improvement so that it feels more "do-able" to the youngster. Also, the moms and dads will feel less defensive towards you if you make it seem like there's only a little "fine-tuning" to be done. Make it clear that you called this meeting because you care about this youngster and want to see him/her improve in school this year. Emphasize that the parent, child, and educator are all part of the same team. Convey that "I can't do it without you. We're all in this together."

Step 3 - Communicate the Consequences—

Define the tracking method to be used on a daily basis for monitoring child behavior. Describe the rewards and consequences that correlate with behavior choices. Be very specific and clear in this area. Use quantitative numbers wherever possible. Involve the moms and dads in providing the rewards and consequences, taking much of the pressure of enforcement out of your hands. Constant school-to-home communication will go a long way towards significant progress with this youngster. Make sure that the chosen consequences are truly important to this particular youngster; you can even ask the youngster for input which will make him/her buy into the process even further. Have all involved parties sign the agreement and end the meeting on a positive note.

Step 4 - Schedule a Follow-Up Meeting—

Schedule a follow-up meeting to discuss progress and make adjustments to the plan as needed. The follow-up meeting should be in 2-6 weeks, depending upon your assessment of the situation. Let the youngster know that the group will be meeting again soon to discuss progress.

Step 5 - Be Consistent In the Classroom—

In the meantime, be very consistent with this youngster in the classroom. Stick to the wording of the behavior contract agreement to a "t." When the youngster makes good behavior choices – heap sincere praise upon him/her. When the youngster makes not so good choices, do not be apologetic; if needed, pull out the contract and review the terms that were agreed upon. Emphasize the positives that come along with good behavior choices and help the youngster to get used to new habits of good behavior.

Step 6 - Be Patient and Trust the Plan—

Most of all, be patient. Do not give up on this youngster. While you may feel like pulling your hair out right now, as you see the youngster grow and develop, you may find this relationship to be one of the most rewarding of your teaching career. Such kids often need extra love and positive attention, so don't let your frustrations get the best of you.

You might be surprised at the huge feeling of relief that all involved parties feel just by having an agreed-upon plan. Now that you all know how to proceed, a happy ending is in sight. Use your educator's intuition to start yourself on a more peaceful and productive path with this youngster.

Sample Behavior Contract for Improving a Difficult Student's Behavior—

Some ODD children require additional structure and support. Here’s a sample contract to get you started:

Student Name: ________________________

Date: _________________________

Room: _________________________

[Student name] will demonstrate good behaviors each day at school.

[Student name] is expected to follow the educator's directions the first time she asks him to do something. He/she is expected to do so promptly and with a good attitude. Each time that [Student name] does not meet these expectations, he/she will receive a tally mark for the day on the tracking sheet. These tally marks will determine the rewards and consequences that [Student name] receives, as shown below.

• Zero tallies in one day = A chance to roll the die after school for one of the rewards listed below
• One tally in one day = Does not get a chance to roll the die that day
• Two or more tallies in one day = Loss of recess the next day and/or other consequences as determined by Mrs. Smith

Number rolled on a die:

1 = One table point for his table
2 = One raffle ticket for monthly class drawing
3 = One piece of candy
4 = Gets to be first in line for the next school day
5 = Gets to help educator after school that afternoon
6 = Five marbles for the class marble jar

We agree to the terms of this behavior contract as set forth above.

[Educator Signature]

[Parent Signature]

[Student Signature]

My Out-of-Control Child: Parenting/Teaching Children with Oppositional Defiant Disorder

* ODD Support Group for Parents and Teachers

Dealing with Angry Teenage Students

I will never forget one of the angriest teenagers I ever met. I will call her Kayla. Kayla was one of those teenagers that could be set off at any moment. When she was set off, look out. EXPLOSION!!! You might hear any curse word in the book (some I didn't know at the time), you might see things kicked or thrown, and when finished she would probably storm out the room in a violent rage. Kayla was in my class during my first year as a 10th grade teacher. When it came to angry teens, all I knew was what I was taught in college, which wasn't much.

Here is a list of things I have learned since that time that may be beneficial to someone else:

1. Learn to increase your effectiveness with such teens. Don't make mistakes like, returning the student’s anger, avoiding the teen, being inconsistent or attempting to reason with an out-of-control teen. You must learn to remain calm and not allow the teen to get to you. Learn to empathize with the teen. This does not mean you have to give in but that you relate to the teen. Have a structured classroom. And perhaps most importantly, have a behavior management plan which has a set of consequences and rewards. And even more important than that, be consistent with them.

2. Recognize ODD and its symptoms. ODD [Oppositional Defiant Disorder] is a pattern of hostile, violent and disruptive behavior which is very clearly outside the normal range of behavior for a child of the same age and culture. Symptoms of ODD include being easily annoyed or irritated, changes from contented mood to angry mood in seconds, outbursts during class, blaming others for own mistakes and a teen who persistently insists on having their way. The causes of ODD are numerous and include neurological causes and chemical imbalances in the brain. When dealing with a teen that has ODD it is important not to react strongly and emotionally. Try not to let the teen know what gets to you. You must remain relaxed and cool while the teen is trying to push you over the edge.

3. Understand ADD and the impacts of medication. ADD, Attention Deficit Disorder is very common among young people. This is a mental illness that impairs a teen’s ability to stay focused. Symptoms of ADD will include difficulty listening and following directions, being easily distracted, inconsistent school performance and difficulty working independently. Like ODD, ADD can only be diagnosed by a doctor. Medication will often be prescribed, usually Ritalin or Adderall, and it is important to watch for certain problems. Teens should be started at a low dose and monitored carefully. If the parent neglects this responsibility, the effects will be noticeable.

Dealing with angry teens can be quite a challenge. But being educated on symptoms of various disorders, and creating an environment that is structured, can help you to have success with them.

My Out-of-Control Child: Parenting/Teaching Children and Teens with ODD

* ODD Support Group for Parents and Teachers

Dealing with Oppositional Children in the Classroom

One of the scariest issues for educators is dealing with oppositional children in the classroom. While confrontations do not occur every day in every classroom, most if not all secondary school educators will have to deal with a child who is acting belligerent and speaking in out in their classroom. Following are some ideas and tips to help diffuse the situation instead of allowing it to escalate even further.

Call the Office if You Require Help or an Office Escort—

While it is always best to try and diffuse the situation yourself, you should call the office and request additional adult assistance if things are escalating out of hand. If a child is cussing uncontrollably at you and/or other children, throwing things, hitting others, or threatening violence, you need to get assistance from the office.

Contact the Child's Mom and/or Dad—

Try to get the parent involved as soon as possible. Let them know what happened in class and what you would like them to do to help with the situation. Realize, however, that some moms and dads will not be as receptive as others in your efforts. Nonetheless, parental involvement can make a huge difference in many cases.

Create a Behavior Management Plan for Ongoing Issues—

If you have a child who is often oppositional, you need to call together a parent-teacher conference to deal with the situation. Include administration and guidance if you feel it is necessary. Together, you can create a plan for dealing with the child and possibly helping them with any possible anger management issues.

Do Not Get Other Children Involved—

It is counterproductive to get other children involved in the confrontation. For example, if the child is making an accusation about something you did or did not say, do not turn to the rest of the class to ask them what you said right at that moment. The oppositional child might feel backed into a corner and lash out even further. A better response would be that you will be happy to speak with them about the situation once they calm down.

Do Not Provoke a Child—

While this might seem obvious, it is a sad fact that some educators enjoy provoking their children. Do not be one of those educators. Spend your time focusing on what's best for each child and move beyond any petty feelings you might have about past classroom confrontations and situations. While you might privately dislike a child, you should never allow this to show in any way.

Do Not Lose Your Temper—

This can be harder than it sounds. However, it is imperative that you remain calm. You have a classroom full of children watching you. If you lose your temper and start shouting at an oppositional child, you have given up your position of authority and lowered yourself to the child's level. Instead, take a deep breath and remember that you are the authority figure in the situation.

Do Not Raise Your Voice—

This goes hand in hand with not losing your temper. Raising your voice will simply escalate the situation. Instead, a better tack is to talk quieter as the child gets louder. This will help you keep control and appear less oppositional to the child, thereby helping to calm the situation.

Privately Speak to the Child—

You might consider calling a hall conference with the child. Ask them to step outside to speak with you. By removing the audience, you can talk with the child about their issues and try to come to some sort of resolution before the situation gets out of hand. Make sure that during this time, you recognize that you understand they are upset and then talk with them calmly to determine the best resolution to the problem. Use active listening techniques as you talk with the child. If you are able to get the child to calm down and return to class, then make sure that you integrate the child back into the classroom environment. Other children will be watching how you deal with the situation and how you treat the returning child.

Talk With the Child at a Later Time—

A day or two after the situation has been resolved, pull the child involved aside and discuss the situation with them calmly. Use this to try and determine what the trigger was that caused the problem in the first place. This is also a great time to try and give the child ideas of other ways to deal with the situation that they might be able to use in the future. For example, you might have them ask to speak with you quietly instead of shouting in the middle of class. Please see my best teaching experience where I was able to turn an oppositional child into one who was productive and happy in my classroom.

Treat Each Child as an Individual—

Realize that what works with one child might not work with another. For example, you might find that one child responds particularly well to humor while another might get angry when you try to make light of the situation.

Use Referrals if Necessary—

An office referral is one tool in your behavior management plan. This should be used as a last resort for children who cannot be managed within the classroom environment. If you write referrals all the time, you will find that they lose their value both for your children and also for the administration as well. In other words, you want your referrals to mean something and to be acted on as necessary by the administrator in charge of the case.

My Out-of-Control Child: Parenting/Teaching Children with ODD

*ODD Support Group for Parents and Teachers

Behavioral Problems in Students with Oppositional Defiant Disorder [ODD]

Behavioral disorders also known as conduct disorders are one of the most common forms of psycho pathology among kids and young adults and is the most frequently cited reason for referral to mental health services. The appearance of behavioral disorders is increasing dramatically in our K-12 classrooms. As a result their presence severely constrains the ability of the school systems to educate children effectively. The prevalence of behavioral problems among kids and young adults is substantial. Many surveys indicate that behavioral disorders vary among young adults, ranging from 2 and 6% in K-12 children. This percentage translates into 1.3 to 3.8 million cases of behavioral disorders among the school and pre-college population.

Behavioral disorders become apparent when the ODD student displays a repetitive and impact persistent pattern of behavior that results in the significant disruption in other children. Such disturbances may cause significant impairments in academic, social, and or occupational functioning. Such a behavior pattern is consistent throughout the individual’s life. Among the characteristics of a behavioral disorder among kids and adolescents are:

• A display of bullying, threatening, or intimidating behavior.
• Being physically abusive of others.
• Deliberate destruction of other's property.
• Initiation of aggressive behavior and reacting aggressively towards others.
• Showing callous behavior towards others and lack of feelings of guilt or remorse.
• Showing little empathy and concern for the feelings, wishes, and well being of others.
• They may readily inform on their companions and tend to blame others for their own misdeeds.

General Strategies—

• Administer consequences immediately, then monitor proper behavior frequently.
• As a teacher, you should be patient, sensitive, a good listener, fair and consistent in your treatment of children with behavioral disorders.
• Ask previous educators about interactive techniques that have previously been effective with the ODD student in the past.
• Bring to the ODD student's attention science role models with disabilities with a similar disability to that of the student. Point out that this individual got ahead by a combination of effort and by asking for help when needed.
• Change rewards if they are not effective for motivating behavioral change.
• Determine whether the ODD student is on medication, what the schedule is, and what the medication effects may be on his or her in class demeanor with and without medication. Then adjust teaching strategies accordingly.
• Develop a schedule for applying positive reinforcement in all educational environments.
• Devise a contingency plan with the ODD student in which inappropriate forms of response are replaced by appropriate ones.
• Direct instruction or target behaviors is often required to help children master them.
• Do not expect children with behavioral disorders to have immediate success; work for improvement on a overall basis.
• Encourage others to be friendly with children who have emotional disorders.
• Enforce classroom rules consistently.
• Expose children with behavioral disorders to other children who demonstrate the appropriate behaviors.
• Have pre-established consequences for misbehavior.
• In group activities, acknowledge the contributions of the ODD student with a behavioral disorder.
• Make sure the discipline fits the "crime," without harshness.
• Monitor the ODD student's self-esteem. Assist in modification, as needed.
• Praise immediately at all good behavior and performance.
• Present a sense of high degree of possessiveness in the classroom environment.
• Provide encouragement.
• Reward more than you punish, in order to build self-esteem.
• Self-esteem and interpersonal skills are especially essential for all children with emotional disorders.
• Treat the ODD student with the behavioral disorder as an individual who is deserving of respect and consideration.
• Use time-out sessions to cool off disruptive behavior and as a break if the ODD student needs one for a disability-related reason.
• When appropriate, seek input from the ODD student about their strengths, weaknesses and goals.

Teacher Presentation—

• Administer consequences immediately, then monitor proper behavior frequently.
• After a week, or so, of observation, try to anticipate classroom situations where the student's emotional state will be vulnerable and be prepared to apply the appropriate mitigative strategies.
• As an educator you serve a model for the children who are behaviorally disturbed. Your actions therefore, must be consistent, mature, and controlled. Behavioral outbursts and/or angry shouting at children inhibit rather than enhance a classroom.
• Be fair and consistent, but temper your consistency with flexibility.
• Be positive and supportive.
• By using examples, encourage children to learn science so they can emulate adult behaviors.
• Change rewards if they are not effective for motivating behavioral change.
• Check on the ODD student's basic capacity to communicate and adjust your communications efforts accordingly.
• Consultation with other specialists, including the special education teacher, school psychologist, and others may prove helpful in devising effective strategies.
• Develop a schedule for applying positive reinforcement in all educational environments.
• Devise a structured behavioral management program.
• Direct instruction or target behaviors is often required to help children master them.
• Do not expect children with behavioral disorders to have immediate success; work for improvement on a overall basis.
• Encourage others to be friendly with children who have emotional disorders.
• Enforce classroom rules consistently.
• Expose children with behavioral disorders to other children who demonstrate the appropriate behaviors.
• Find ways to encourage the ODD student.
• Group participation in activities is highly desirable because it makes social contacts possible.
• Have pre-established consequences for misbehavior.
• Have the individual with the behavioral disorder be in charge of an activity which can often reduce the aggressiveness.
• If unstructured activities must occur, you must clearly distinguish them from structured activities in terms of time, place, and expectations.
• Instructions should be simple and very structured.
• Keep an organized classroom learning environment.
• Let your children know the expectations you have, the objectives that have been established for the activity, and the help you will give them in achieving objectives.
• Make sure the discipline fits the "crime," without harshness.
• Monitor the ODD student carefully to ensure that children without disabilities do not dominate the activity or detract in any way from the successful performance of the ODD student with the behavioral disorder.
• Monitor the ODD student's self-esteem. Assist in modification, as needed.
• Plan for successful participation in the activities by the children. Success is extremely important to them.
• Praise immediately and all good behavior and performance.
• Present a sense of positiveness in the learning environment.
• Provide a carefully structured learning environment with regard to physical features of the room, scheduling, routines, and rules of conduct.
• Provide encouragement.
• Remain calm, state the infraction of the rule, and avoid debating or arguing with the ODD student with a behavioral disorder.
• Reward more than you punish, in order to build self-esteem.
• Self-esteem and interpersonal skills are especially essential for all children with emotional disorders.
• Show confidence in the children ability and set goals that realistically can be achieved.
• Some aggressive children act as they do because of a subconscious desire for attention, and it is possible to modify their behavior by giving them recognition.
• Special efforts should be made to encourage and easily facilitate children with behavioral disorders to interact.
• Educators should reward children for good behavior and withhold reinforcement for inappropriate behavior.
• The environment must be structured but sensitive to the needs of these youth with behavioral disorders.
• Use a wide variety of instructional equipment which can be displayed for the children to look at and handle.
• When an interest in a particular piece has been kindled, the instructor can talk to the ODD student about it and show him or her how to use it.
• When appropriate, seek input from the children about their strengths, weaknesses and goals.
• You should refer the children to visual aids and reading materials that may be used to learn more about the techniques of skill performance.


1. Activity instructions should be simple but structured.
2. Be sensitive when making team pairings for activities so that the ODD student with an emotional disorder is supported.
3. Consider alternate activities/exercises that can be utilized with less difficulty for the ODD student, but has the same or similar learning objectives.
4. Every effort should be made to arouse the interest of such children in laboratory activities, so they will learn to perform the activities with success and pleasure.
5. If a ODD student must be denied permission to use the equipment, this should be done on an impersonal basis so the student will not feel hurt or discriminated against.
6. If unstructured activities must occur, you must clearly distinguish them from structured activated in terms of time, place, and expectations.
7. If unstructured activities must occur, you must clearly distinguish them from structured activated in terms of time, place, and expectations.
8. Monitor carefully to ensure that the children without disabilities do not dominate the activity or detract in any way from the successful performance of the ODD student with the behavioral disorder.
9. Plan for successful participation in the laboratory activities by the children with behavioral disorder. Success is extremely important to them.
10. Some children with behavioral disorders may go to great lengths to avoid class participation. To feign their disorder is the method most frequently used, in hope of being excused from participation.
11. Special efforts should be made to get children with behavioral disorders to interact in laboratory activities.
12. To ensure success consider the special needs and interests of each person; give friendly, patient instruction in the laboratory skills; and continually encourage a wider interest in activities.
13. Use a wide variety of instructional equipment which can be displayed for the children to look at and handle.
14. When a ODD student displays a reaction of dislike to the activities this dislike usually stems from fear or lack of experience for the activity or factors inherent within the situation itself.
15. When an interest in a particular piece has been kindled, the instructor can talk to the ODD student about it and show him or her how to use it.

Group Interaction and Discussion—

• Acknowledge the contributions of the ODD student with an emotional disorder.
• Along with the student, devise a contingency plan in which inappropriate forms of response are replaced by appropriate ones.
• As the ODD student's comfort level rises and when a safe topic is available, encourage the student to be a group spokesperson.
• Call for responses and participation commensurate with the ODD student's socialization skills.
• Gradually increase the challenges in the student's participation in group exercises while providing increased positive reinforcement.
• Help the ODD student to feel as though he or she has something worthwhile to contribute to the discussion.
• Should monitor carefully to ensure that the nondisabled children do not dominate the discussion or detract in any way from the successful performance of the student with the behavioral disorder.
• Some children may experience considerable strain in social adjustment in a group context. It may be necessary to work gradually toward group activities. One can devise a strategy of progressing from spectatorship to one-to-one instruction and eventually to small group discussion.


• It is necessary to target specific prosocial behaviors for appropriate instruction and assessment to occur such as:

1. Demonstrating appropriate reading.
2. Increasing positive relationships by means of awards when they read appropriately.
3. Reading in group or with others.
4. Taking turns, working with partner, following directions.

• Instructional strategies involving self-control, self-reinforcement, self-monitoring, self-management, problem solving, cognitive behavior modification, and meta-cognitive skills should be focused on teaching children reading skills


• Depending on the site of the research check the previous two sections.
• Review and discuss with the ODD student the steps involved in a research activity. Think about which step(s) may be difficult for the specific functional limitations of the student and jointly devise accommodations for that ODD student.
• Show clear examples of what the children should expect as an outcome of their research.
• Use appropriate laboratory and field strategies.

Field Experiences—

• Consider alternate activities/exercises that can be utilized with less difficulty for the ODD student, but has the same or similar learning objectives.
• Every effort should be made to arouse the interest of such children in activities, so they will learn to perform the activities with success and pleasure with appropriate behaviors.
• Gradually increase the challenges in the ODD student's participation in field exercises while providing increased positive reinforcement.
• Group participation in field activities is highly desirable because it enhances social contacts.
• Help the student to feel as though he or she has something worthwhile to contribute to the field trip.
• In field activities acknowledge the contributions and assistance of the student with an emotional disorder.
• Make the ODD student with the behavioral disorder become one of the field trip leader of an activity which can often reduce their disorder.
• Special efforts should be made to get children with behavioral disorders to interact with other children.
• Use a buddy system.
• Use appropriate general strategies.
• You should encourage children to practice field skills during their free hours.


• Be sensitive to the ODD student's reactions to the various aspects of assessment.
• For each student, accumulate in his or her portfolio several examples of work (quizzes, assignments, projects) that demonstrate knowledge of the subject matter or the unit of study.
• Make special arrangements for the ODD student with an emotional disorder according to what their special needs are and that they do not compromise the integrity of the testing situation.
• Provide private room/smaller group setting/alternative test site (with proctor present); alternatively screens to block out distractions.
• Stay on top of ODD student progress through informal assessment, don't wait until it's too late to discover that there is a problem.

Improve Behavior Problems with the Right Curriculum—

Improve Behavior Problems - Inappropriate curriculum and instruction can lead to many types of problem behaviors among children with learning disabilities. Children may:

• Be embarrassed if material is not appropriate for their age levels.
• Become frustrated if material is too difficult.
• Feel bored with curriculum that is beneath their ability, or involving material that is not interesting to them.
• Feel defensive and disrupt the classroom to protect their egos, attempt to restore their "image" before the class.
• Feel like giving up if instructional delivery is too rapid.

When children with learning disabilities' learning needs are not met, they may show a range of behavior problems. Children's problem behaviors may:

• An attempt to have some control in a situation where they feel powerless;
• An attempt to shift attention away from their learning disabilities;
• Part of their disability, especially if ADHD is involved;
• The natural result of their frustration;
• The result of delayed social skill development or underdeveloped adaptive behavior skills.

Educators and moms and dads can reduce or prevent many behavior problems by:

• Adapt and modify materials to reduce the effect of the disability on classroom performance.
• Choosing materials that are of high interest to the ODD student. Have him select his own materials when possible.
• Ensure that materials are appropriate for your youngster's age level.
• Ensuring that instruction is delivered at or slightly above the youngster's current skill levels. Individual achievement assessment can provide information on a ODD student's skill levels that can be used to identify skills a ODD student needs to learn and provide guidance for selecting materials.

My Out-of-Control Child: Parenting & Teaching Children with ODD

* ODD Support Group for Parents and Teachers