Calming Your Child with ODD Through Positive Reinforcement

Calming Your Child with ODD through Positive Reinforcement

Calming Your Child with ODD through Positive Reinforcement


Does Your Child have ADHD and ODD?

As a mom to a child with ADHD and as a Health Coach who specializes in working with families whose children have ADHD, often times we find there is something else going on and we have to play detective to figure that out. One of the many disorders that can co-exist with ADHD is ODD and my son also has ODD. In this blog post, I will explain ODD and how you can calm your child with ODD through positive reinforcement to help your child thrive.

New to me? I have more blogs to help you on your journey with your child. Check them out here:

What is ODD?

ODD is an abbreviation for Oppositional Defiant Disorder, a disorder that features a frequent and persistent pattern of angry/irritable mood, argumentative/defiant behavior or vindictiveness. Ask yourself these questions?

  • Does your child often lose his/her temper?

  • Is your child easily annoyed?

  • Do they seem angry or resentful?

  • Does your child often argue with authority figures, i.e. teachers, principal, parent , grandparent, etc.

  • Does your child have no regard for rules?

  • Does he/she take no responsibility for their actions?

  • Is your child vindictive?

  • Do you ever feel like you just can’t win?

Can Things Ever Get Better?

Yes, they can, however, it takes time and work. Below are strategies that are practical strategies and with the use of these and positive reinforcements, things can start to get better :)

  • Respond without anger - easier said that done, I agree, however, it’s extremely important to be matter of fact and as calm as possible. Acknowledge the behavior, explain how it needs to change and then remove yourself from the argument.

  • Be Clear and Consistent - This was hard for me and my husband. The child with ODD wants to wear you down so that you will give in to whatever they are requesting. Try to be strong, clear and consistent in your follow through.

  • Remain Neutral - I know how hard this is, but try as hard as you can to not get pulled into a power struggle. Keep practicing calm, consistent parenting and following through.

  • Don’t be your child’s friend, be his/her parent - Keep setting limits with your child and follow through by giving them consequences and holding them accountable.

How Positive Reinforcements Help

  • Set up expectations ahead of time - By doing this your child will know exactly what is expected of them. In return, they can earn privileges by complying with the expectations. This way they see a correlation between complying and then gaining a reward, hence positive reinforcement.

  • Give warnings - Our kids really struggle with transitions, so announcing what is going to happen can help their brain process that a change is coming shortly.

  • Have an understanding tone of voice - No one likes to be yelled at, so try lowering your voice and being empathetic with your child.

  • Be careful to not reinforce negative behaviors - My husband and I did this, so I want to explain to you as we learned the hard way. When my son would badger and whine, even by saying, “No, Don’t, Stop” I was giving him attention. Try at all costs to ignore this type of behavior and if it continues, take away privileges or give a natural consequence.

Examples of Positive Reinforcements

  • Giving a High Five

  • Saying “I like how you cleaned up your room”

  • Clapping and cheering

  • Allowing your child to hear your talk positively about him/her

  • Sticker Charts work great for younger kids

  • Token reward systems work well for older kids

  • When your child does what you asked, be sure to praise him/her

Pick Your Battles

Raising a child with ODD is hard, but it is important to pick your battles. Does it really matter if they go to school with a mismatched outfit? Is it hurting them? No, it’s not, so allow them to make choices as that helps them to feel in control of something as many of our kids don’t feel in control of their own bodies. Now, if they are doing something dangerous to them or someone else or being disrespectful or damaging property, that is totally another matter.

A Must Have

As a mom to a child with ADHD, I’ve been there and want to serve you well while you navigate this journey. Please check out my other blog posts and download my FREE BOOKLET - 5 Ways to Keep Your Child with ADHD Calm and Focused here.

Until next time,


About the author:  Mary is a wife of 22 years and mom to three children, one who has ADHD and Sensory Processing Disorder.  She is also a Certified Health Coach and loves to serve her clients through a Free Facebook group, Online and In-Person Individual Family Coaching and Group Coaching programs.  She is also a self published author of "Food & The Brain" a book about how food affects our brains and the creator of "Grocery Store to Table" a program with a proven approach to helping your child accept new foods into their diets.