ODD – parenting

ODD is a behavioral disorder, it means in Dutch an oppositional defiant disorder. Children with ODD are very difficult to raise. They tolerate little to no authority, are very unruly, have violent tantrums, are physical (hitting, kicking, pinching, etc.) and often blame others. Because children with ODD are rebellious, obstinate and quick-tempered, a special approach to parenting is needed. A normal upbringing is not enough. A number of points discussed below can provide some guidance in education. This article is not a solution, but an addition. If you have a child with ODD, you can contact various agencies for additional help, but take into account long waiting lists. The following tips may help you on your way. Every child is different and so is every parent. Therefore, not all tips will work, or you may not believe all tips work. See what suits you, your child and your situation.

Provide structure

For all children, and for children with ODD in particular, structure is important. This makes the day more manageable. Fewer stimuli come in because everything is predictable.

  • A pictogram board can help with this, especially with young children.
  • Make a fixed daily schedule. This can be per hour, but also per activity or part of the day. The child knows what happens on a day and can adjust accordingly.
  • Ensure there are fewer stimuli in the house: tidy up rooms and cupboards, do not offer too many toys at once, turn off the TV and game console more often, and ensure that all things have a permanent place in the house.
  • Have a fixed morning and evening ritual. That gives a child peace.


A line

As parents, try to be on the same page in your upbringing as much as possible. Then the child cannot play both parents against each other and knows that the same rules apply to mom and dad. This gives the child stability and peace, and so does you as a parent.


  • Be clear to your child, speak clearly and state briefly and powerfully what you want from your child. Do not use cryptic descriptions, but clear language. Give the instructions in a statement form and not an interrogative. (Now are you going to clean your room, instead of. Do you want to clean your room?)
  • Teach the child a stop instruction. In case of tantrums, unwanted behavior, etc. As soon as you say ‘Stop!’ says, your child must stop, otherwise there will be a consequence (for example a time-out).
  • Make sure there is eye contact and little distraction around you when you want to explain or instruct your child. Have the child repeat your assignment/story.
  • Try to control your own emotions as much as possible. If you react with anger, disappointment, or anger, your child will pick up on those emotions, making his or her mind even more restless. Children also quickly see their parents’ weak spot and will respond to it.


Physical behavior

Do not tolerate physical behavior such as kicking, hitting, pinching, punching, etc. This is not allowed and this is not possible! Brothers and sisters of a child with ODD in particular have to deal with this and are often unable to physically cope with it. Hitting your child yourself is of course a completely wrong example. No matter how difficult it is sometimes, as parents you should not hit, pinch, etc. Try to control your anger, at least in front of the child. You are his example. Children with ODD are very sensitive to violence and pick it up quickly.

Punish, reward and ignore

When should you punish, when reward and when ignore?

  • Ignoring: behavior that is not physical, threatening, cursing, sulking, angry faces, whining, etc. Do not make eye contact, do not respond, possibly walk away from that room or turn around.
  • Punishment: behavior that is really unacceptable: such as physical behavior, when the child is a danger to himself or his environment, and when ignoring and rewarding have no effect. Don’t put salt on all the snails, otherwise you will grumble and punish them all day long. Do not punish with hitting, but with a time-out at a penalty spot.
  • Reward: You can reward your child’s good behavior, so the desired behavior will occur more often. Your child will grow from compliments and the atmosphere at home will become a lot more pleasant. There is always something to compliment you on, no matter how small.


Positive behavior

Try to reward positive behavior. Sometimes it’s hard to find that positive behavior. But if you pay close attention, there is always a small positive thing to discover: a coat that has been hung up, helping a brother, a kind word. Reward this behavior and try to have a positive attitude yourself. Grumbling all day long and giving your child negative attention is not fun. No one can keep that up. Try to look for and name the positive things.

Temper tantrums

Tantrums are a big problem with ODD. These children have more frequent and more intense tantrums than other children. What is the best way to deal with a tantrum? Make sure that the child cannot harm himself or others. You can put small children in a headlock. This is no longer possible with older children. It is best to walk out of the room and find a safe place and wait until the child has finished talking. Have a conversation later in the day and calmly discuss the situation with the child. Have the child clean up the mess or make up for the damage caused by the tantrum. Medication can help against tantrums, such as Pipamperon (Dipiperon). This provides fewer stimuli, which means that tantrums occur less quickly (and less intensely). The medicine does not have the desired effect in all children. Discuss the situation with the psychiatrist.


Tell a child what you are going to do, who will be present, what is expected of him and how long it will take.
Involve the child in what you are going to do. Let them help you with the shopping: write a list yourself, look for things in the store, etc. You can also decide to do the shopping, visit family , etc. without a child as much as possible. This way you won’t get into unpleasant situations. Of course, that’s not always a choice that can be made if you are a working, single parent.


As parents and educators, you often receive comments from those around you: mine is also annoying sometimes. He is much calmer with me. Oh well, don’t worry about it so much… maybe you should just be a little stricter. As a parent, it is best to ignore these types of comments. Children often behave better around others. All children are annoying or throw a tantrum sometimes. Only in children with ODD is this every day, and much more intense. People who have never experienced this have no idea about it and judge it too quickly. You as a parent know what is going on and do your best. That’s enough. Let the rest talk (no matter how difficult that is sometimes).


Try to arrange auxiliary troops. This includes family, neighbors or friends and care providers. Explain the situation as best as possible, inform those around you what your child has and how they can best deal with it. The more people know about it, the more understanding they can have. Don’t be too big on those around you, raising a child with ODD can be very difficult and you can’t always do it alone. Stay under control at the emergency services, make sure you can always call someone there if things are no longer going well at home.

Want to read more about ODD and CD?

  • Rebellious, contrary and angry. Handbook of behavioral disorders ODD and CD, for parents, educators, teachers and care providers. Coby Hartog-Polkerman (ISBN: 978 90 8850 072 5), publisher SWP.
  • Less cross and angry. Raising children with ODD and/or CD. Coby Hartog-Polkerman (ISBN: 978 90 8850 263 7)

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