ODD is basically defiant behavior where a child constantly fights you when when asked to follow instructions. Often just a simple ask can set a child off. All children struggle doing what their parent ask them at times, but for a child with ODD they struggle is consistent, difficult, isn’t age appropriate, and applies to almost every request.
Preventing behavior problems in ODD child is possible when parents use the behavior skill of Preventive Teaching. Preventive Teaching helps your child anticipate situations before they arise. By addressing situations before they happen you’re actually telling your child how you expect them to behave and what you expect them to do. This is done by practicing or Role-playing the situation that is a problem and the behavior you want.
Using Role-playing you show your son or daughter the behavior you want them to do. Then you have them practice the expected behavior until they are able to do it on their own without prompting from you. Practicing, or Role-playing, helps cement a new behavior in your child’s brain for when they are asked to do it in the future. Role-playing also creates a safe environment that gives children the confidence they can do what you ask.
Role-play when you and your child are in a calm, neutral state. When a child isn’t reacting they are more likely to actually follow instructions and adapt to the situation. Whenever your child does something correct in the Role-play, praise them by using Effective Praise. You can learn how to give Effective Praise on the Smarter Parenting website.
If you child doesn’t do the Role-play correctly, still praise him or her for what they did correctly and then make minor corrections before having them Role-play the situation again. Three is the minimum number of times you should Role-play a situation with your child.
Keep the Role-play fun. If either of you begin to lose your patience, it is ok to return to the Role-play at a later time. Encourage your child to Role-play by offering a reward when they are finished. Rewards do not need to be monetary or involve food. Things like staying up 15 minutes later, playing a game with mom or dad, or choosing a family activity can all be rewards.
Many parents find it helpful to prepare a child to do something by giving them prompts. Saying things like, “In 20 minutes I will ask you so and so and I need you to do it just like we practiced.”
A highly reactive child may forget that you’ve prompted them if the time frame is too long. For them, it would be better to say,” In 20 minutes you will need to do so and so just like we practiced. I will remind you in 5 minutes, and then at ten minutes, and then right again before you have to do it.”
Children react to situations they’re not expecting or anticipating so Preventive Teaching is a helpful parenting tool for preventing behavior problems in ODD kids as it removes the surprise and allows them to process the request ahead of time.