Category Archives: Oppositional Defiant Disorder & Treatment for Children

Disciplining Children: When and When Not To

Disciplining children is overwhelming. Knowing when to discipline and when to let it go is sometimes impossible. I know from personal experience how difficult it is in the moment to know when to discipline children and when not to. When we’re in the moment with our children, it’s hard to see the forest for the trees.

The best key to making the snap decision on whether to discipline your children or not is to assess the level of harm they are doing. Are your children being aggressive? Then you need to discipline children for such behaviors. Hitting, kicking, biting are all aggressive behaviors that warrant disciplining a child. Immediately stop the behavior and give your child a consequence for that behavior.

On the other hand, if your child is simply being annoying (Yes, I said it. At times even the most patient parent can be annoyed by our children!), then the best method for disciplining children is by ignoring the annoying behavior.

If your child is whining, ask him to use his “Big Boy words” and walk away.

If your children are bickering in the other room, ignore it. As long as no one is being aggressive, let them work the problem out for themselves.

There’s no need to discipline children who are bickering amongst themselves as long as no one is being aggressive. Your boss doesn’t get involved in every workplace spat and neither should you with your children.

Of course, there are gray areas when it comes to disciplining children. Let’s take swearing for example. If your child is swearing at another person, then this would be considered being verbally aggressive and you will want to discipline your child for this behavior.

However, if your child is playing alone in the other room and uses a swear word, then this is a situation where you might have a talk with your child about appropriate vs. inappropriate language, but you wouldn’t necessarily need to formally discipline him.

Ignoring is a very effective discipline strategy when it is used appropriately. It can help manage a variety of behaviors and can help kids learn appropriate ways to get attention. When combined with other discipline techniques ignoring can be a great tool.

Ignoring can help kids learn to how deal with their feelings in socially appropriate ways. For example, instead of screaming and stomping his feet when he’s upset, your child can learn other coping skills to deal his feelings of sadness or disappointment.

So what behaviors should you ignore?

  • Whining
  • Repeatedly asking the same question
  • Mildly talking back
  • Temper tantrums

Without the audience, these behaviors usually aren’t much fun and kids will give up (eventually).

How to Actively Ignore:

  1. Ignoring requires that you completely ignore your child’s misbehaviors. This means no eye contact, no conversation, and no physical touch.
  2. You will know that your attempts at ignoring are effective if the behavior gets worse initially. When a child is not getting the response he wants, he may scream louder, try to get in your face, or whine even more.
  3. Don’t give in if the behaviors start to get worse. Otherwise, this will reinforce to your child that these behaviors are effective. Once you start ignoring, make sure you continue to ignore until the behavior ceases.
  4. As soon as the behavior stops, provide your child with attention again in order to reinforce to your child that being calm gains attention and together you can talk about his feelings and find solutions to the problem that upset him.
  5. It can be helpful to sit your child down when he is calm to explain the plan. Tell him when you will ignore him and explain how he can regain your attention. Then, your child will be aware of the direct link between his behaviors and your reaction.

Common Concerns about Ignoring:

  1. Parents may be concerned that ignoring will be emotionally scarring to their child. It’s important to remember that you aren’t ignoring your child; it is the negative behaviors you are ignoring.
  2. Parents may worry that they cannot tolerate ignoring their child’s behaviors. It can be helpful to distract yourself with a book or television to help you ignore. It can also help to keep reminding yourself that although it may be distressing in the short-term it will help your child in the long-term.
  3. It’s important to work with other caregivers on discipline strategies. If you are trying to ignore your child’s tantrum and Grandma steps in to say “What’s wrong honey?” it will reinforce to the child that his behaviors are effective.

Disciplining children is a challenge that all parents face, but if you use this one key principle or ignoring the minor, irritating behaviors of your child as your guide, it will make the challenge much less daunting. Soon you’ll find yourself confident in knowing when to discipline children and when to just let it go.

For more discipline strategies, check out our Parenting Success System.  There you can discover additional discipline strategies and more discussion on when to discipline and when to not discipline your child.

What if your child’s arguing and talking back comes from one miscommunication that can be fixed almost overnight?

It’s remarkable how fast a child’s behavior can transform. I’ve seen countless “problem children” turn to angels right before my eyes.

Because even though we adults might hold grudges for years, our children are lightning quick to forgive— and change.

My name is Stephanie Anderson. Along with my husband Shannon, we specialize in teaching parents simple concepts that radically change the way their children behave. We’ve helped literally hundreds of parents build loving, relaxed, trusting and peaceful relationships with their children.

And although every single child is unique (and so are the parents), we’ve noticed one crucial fact…

Our children become how we look at them.

One of my clients came to me, distraught, after yelling at her son. She’d been working on an important project on the computer for work the next day. Her son turned the computer off, causing her to lose all her hard work.

She scolded him harshly and sent him to bed with no dinner. The next day she came home to a hand-drawn apology card. After speaking to her son, she found out he’d turned the computer off because he thought it would save power— she had just taught him to turn the lights off the week before for the same reason.

More often than we’d like to admit it, our child’s “misbehavior” is OUR problem— not theirs!

My client is now much more patient and always gives her son the benefit of the doubt. And they have a beautiful and loving relationship together.

But not all parents and children are so lucky. Tragically often, “bad” behavior stems from a major overreaction or oversight by the parent. The child is blamed for something they never did. They feel wronged— and rightly so. A pattern of distrust, fear and rebellion emerges.

Over time these patterns harden and become core parts of our children’s personalities. And although they can be changed very quickly as children, it can take years of hard work to change them as adults (if it’s even possible at all).

Whether they know it or not, ALL “good parents” look at their children the same way.

The good news is that your child’s behavior can be changed in an instant, if you decide to change the way you look at them.

When a child bumps their heads, they may start crying. But with some comfort and a kiss from mom, they’re smiling and laughing immediately.

And while even the best children — with the best parents — will misbehave, it does not have to be a source of stress for you. It does not have to create a divide.

In fact, the same behavior that makes you hopping mad today, will make you laugh as soon as you grasp this “peaceful parent” mindset.

Because you’ll see your child’s “misbehavior” as an act of love… and your relationship (and their behavior) will change.

My clients pay me $150/hr for coaching. And by far one of the most common issues we discuss is argumentative, misbehaving children and how to handle them the right way.

These are good kids who are causing their parents tons of trouble— and the parents don’t know why. Shortly into the call though, we always find an event that was misinterpreted. It seemed like bad behavior at the time, but it really wasn’t at all.

This is caused by a well-intentioned but dead-wrong parenting mindset that 90% of parents have. And it leads to looking at your child wrongly. Over time this leads to more misbehavior and more wrong assumptions.

When we switch that mindset with a much better and more realistic one, something crazy happens— the child’s behavior changes. And the parents’ lives do too.

We wish we could go through this with every parent in the world. We learn just as much as they do.

But our time is limited. Our rates are high. And we’re already booked with clients. Still, we wanted a way to give this incredible mindset to any parent who needs it. We wanted it to be totally affordable, easy and quick to read, and instantly practical.

So we set to work putting all the knowledge from consulting hundreds of parents into a guide.


Defeat Defiance: A Parent’s Guide to Stopping Arguments & Getting the Respect You Deserve!

This book is guaranteed to give you the mindset that will literally transform your child’s behavior. Often overnight. Because a funny thing happens when you stop viewing your child’s behavior as “wrong”…

You like spending time with your child a lot more, and magically… they stop misbehaving!

This guide is short and sweet, but holds nothing back. At the same time it’s not a “magic bullet”. This is a workbook with homework exercises designed to radically and permanently change the way you see your child.

It will take some effort on your part. So it’s not for everyone. But the results are more than worth it. How would you like to have the relationship with your child that you dream of? One that makes your life much easier and gets them out of time out?

In this guide, you’ll learn:

    • The Total Mindset SHIFT. How to view your child in a way that changes their behavior practically overnight. Try this just once and see what happens (you’ll be shocked).
    • How your child’s behavior has 100% to do with YOU, not them— and why this is great news.
    • How society can condition your child to misbehave. And how to protect them from being manipulated.
    • The little things that make a big difference. Problems will happen with your child. But by noticing when you’re annoyed—even just a little—you can regroup, change your mindset quickly and do the right thing.
    • What you absolutely should not do when your child is misbehaving. And how to reverse the toxic and life-changing affects if you’ve accidentally already done it.
    • What actually makes a “good parent”, why some people are “born with it”, and how you can get it seemingly overnight.
    • How to win your child’s total trust by being their biggest cheerleader. (This gets to the bottom of why your child lies and nips it in the bud.)
    • The “one-two” combination that’ll change even the most argumentative child into the real sweetheart you know they are. Do this enough times and your child will love behaving.
    • The secret to why compliments don’t change your child’s behavior, and how to praise them in ways that does.
    • The right way to reward your child. You can’t give them everything they want. But you can give rewards your children will love, that will encourage good behavior. How to do that is inside.
    • The easy trick that turns one of the most used—and least effective—parenting techniques on its head, transforming your child’s behavior so quick you’ll be shocked.
    • How to plant seeds starting today that will lead your child to better behavior in the short-term, and quality life skills in the future.
    • How to not only get your child to listen to you, but love hearing your advice. As your child ages they need to know they can count on you. Here’s how to get that bond started right.
    • Why classic discipline techniques not only don’t work, but actually destroy trust and ruin your relationship with your child over time.
    • And more…

So how much does it cost? Again, we charge $150/hr for individual consulting calls. But this guide is far less. In fact, you can learn all of this—and totally transform your relationship with your child—for just $7.

And I’m so confident that this guide will work for you that

If you don’t see a total transformation in your child’s behavior after trying it out, email me within 60 days of purchase for a full refund – no questions asked.


The relationship you have with your child can—and should—be rewarding, loving and peaceful. If it isn’t right now, this guide will put you on track faster than you probably thought possible.

Make the decision now to start a new relationship with your child moving forward today.

To great parenting and loving kids.

Stephanie and Shannon, Parent Coaches at Behavior Management Coaching

P.S. – So many parents regret damaging their relationships with their children early on. Because it can be almost impossible to recover later. Don’t live with this kind of regret. Act now.

So you’ve heard about Time-outs. What about Time-ins?

Time-in refers to the positive side of parenting. Children often see their parents as people who set limits and punish them for misbehaviors. In order to develop a strong parent-child relationship, you should also be seen as supportive, loving, and a source of positive attention.

It’s important in early childhood for you to develop a strong bond with your children that fosters communication and mutual respect. These elements are critical for parent-child relationships to be strong throughout your child’s teen years.

So what does a Time-in look like?

1. Catch your child doing good. Watch your children’s behaviors. Instead of reacting by punishing when your children are fighting, try praising them when they are getting along. Show them that getting along is something you want them to do by praising them when they do get along.

2. Don’t wait until they do something extraordinary to praise your kids, praise them for the little things along the way. For example, say your child misses 10 shots at his basketball game, but he makes 3 baskets. After the game, praise him for the 3 baskets (even if the team lost the game.) Likewise, don’t wait until report cards come out to praise your child for his grades, praise each test that comes home with a satisfactory score.

3. Be specific when you praise your child. Don’t just say “Good job.” It’s likely that your child will have no idea what they did good. Instead say, “Good job making those 3 baskets in the game today!”

4. Pair your praise with physical touch. Touch is very reinforcing, so when you praise your child, give her a pat on the back or a high-five.

5. Be immediate. The closer you give praise to the behavior being praised, the more likely your child will associate the two. For instance, praise your children while they are playing nicely, not two days later.

6. Avoid backhanded praise. Statements like, “Good job playing nicely together today. Why can’t you act that way every day?” totally undermines the praise.

Pairing these new strategies with ones you are currently using will make dramatic improvements in your parent-child relationship!

For more ways to change your parenting style to a more positive, uplifting parent-child relationship, check out our Defeat Defiance Guide!

Positive Parenting Tips for Step-fathers

Positive Parenting with stepchildrenYou’ve married the love of your life.  You’re ready to step into a new role and move into the next phase of your life.  The only problem is your wife has an oppositional defiant child and you’re a new step-father.  You didn’t create the oppositional defiant child.  Your step-child’s behavior up until this point is not your fault, but you still can’t help noticing the stares you get from the people next to you at the grocery store while your oppositional defiant step-child has a tantrum.  So what do you do?  How do you step into the role of being a step-father?

The first step in learning to discipline an oppositional defiant step-child is to NOT discipline the child.  You are not the child’s parent.   You don’t have the natural bond that the child has with his or her biological parents.  Your new wife may be expecting you to suddenly take up the role of disciplinarian, but that is a recipe for disaster.

The first thing you need to do is develop a positive parenting relationship with your new step-child.  Figure out what it is that your step-child likes to do and participate in those activities with the child.  Say your step-son plays baseball.  Even if you don’t like baseball, attend his games.  After the game take him out for ice cream.  Tell him what a good job he did.  Show your new step-child that you’re interested in him.  Play with your new step-child.  If you both love video games, play a video game together.  Let him show you how to beat a game (Even if you’ve already beaten the game yourself 20 times!)

The key to ultimately being able to help manage your oppositional defiant step-child is to build a Positive Parenting relationship from the start.  You need to take the back seat when it comes to disciplining your step-child until you’ve solidified a positive parenting relationship with the child.  A positive parenting relationship with your step-child should start with showing your step-child that you are genuinely interested in him and then move on to a place of mutual respect.

Need more ideas on how to create a positive parenting environment in your new blended family?   Becoming a Great Step-Dad offers some realistic advice for your role as a new step-dad from a new step-dad.

  1. Don’t be Dad. Your step children (in most cases) already have a father. Whatever you do, don’t try to step into his place! And don’t’ ask them to call you “Dad.”  And don’t ever badmouth their dad, no matter how much you don’t like him.
  2. Be a Dad. While insisting on being called “Dad” is a bad idea, that doesn’t excuse you from actually being a father-figure. Act responsibly, be there for the kids when they need you, share their joys and sorrows with them, build them up as much as you can, help them with their homework, offer advice, explain how things work, organize their day, and so on — all the things you’d do if you were their actual father.
  3. Have one-on-one time. It’s easy to avoid getting close to your step-children; take some time alone with your step-children to interact with them as individuals instead of just as a “family”.
  4. Don’t talk down to them. Involve the kids in decisions, let them know what is going on each day, and just generally treat them with respect in conversations.
  5. You’re in this together, you and your step-children — both of you have to work out the whole step-relationship thing, and it’s not easy. Make sure you listen and respond to their concerns.
  6. Take cues from mom. Keep in mind that mom and your step-kids have worked out a living arrangement over years that may not make much sense to you at first but which makes sense to them. Deal with major disagreements out of earshot of the kids.
  7. Can’t Buy Me Love.  Don’t try to win them over with gifts.  Most kids are pretty savvy and will end up using your over-eagerness to manipulate you.  Plus, you’ll rest your relationship on a foundation that you can’t possibly keep up — eventually you’ll run out of gifts to give.
  8. Be open about your life, career, likes and dislikes, and interests — and make an effort to learn about theirs. Take part in their activities and involve them in yours.

Step-fathers have a lot going against them when they first become part of a blended family.  The key to building long-term success in your role as a new step-father is to make the parenting as positive as possible from the start.  As the years go by and your step-child learns to respect you, the discipline will naturally fall in place.

Behavior Management Coaching can help families develop positive parenting plans to help blended families develop stronger relationships.  Talk to us Today to learn more!


Is there a link between Oppositional Defiant Disorder, ADHD and Childhood Bullying?

oppositional defiant childWhile researching information recently for a couple families I work with, I discovered an older article from Huffington Post “Bullying and Mental Health:  Study Links Anxiety, Hyperactivity in Kids to Bullying.”  While this article was written in October 2012, following a study presented at the American Academy of Pediatric’s National Conference, I still found the information thought-provoking.

As we all know, when it comes to bullying, the focus of most of the research out there has been on the victims of bullying.  Studies show that children who are bullied have a higher chance of developing mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.  However, this study focused on the relationship between mental health problems and the likelihood that a child will become a bully.  This study found that kids diagnosed with Oppositional Defiant Disorder were 6 times more likely to be identified as bullies than children with no mental health disorders!

This makes perfect sense to me when you consider many of the symptoms of Oppositional Defiant Disorder.  Children with Oppositional Defiant Disorder are more likely to have frequent tantrums, act out aggressively, engage in “revenge seeking” behaviors, and defy requests from authority figures.  This study also found that children with ADHD were more likely to be identified as bullies as well.  This also makes sense to me when you consider the fact that children with ADHD often act impulsively without thinking of consequences for their actions such as thinking how another child will feel if they call him a name.  Children with ADHD often have poor social skills and lack social restraint.  Thinking through the consequences of their actions is just plain difficult for these children, which falls right in line with the concept that these children may be identified as bullies—perhaps unbeknownst to the child himself.

So what can parents do if they suspect their Oppositional Defiant Child might be a bully?

1.  Help your child create healthy peer relationships.  Encourage your Oppositional Defiant Child to develop and maintain friendships.  If your child doesn’t have many friends right now, try enrolling him in a club or activity that he enjoys.  Then talk to him and listen to him as the two of you discuss the club or activity. Are there children he talks about more frequently than others?  If these children are positive role models for your child to be friends with, then encourage the budding friendships.  If your Oppositional Defiant Child creates meaningful friendships, then he’ll grow his self-esteem and begin to build some empathy for others.

2.  Set rules and follow them.  It’s difficult raising a child with Oppositional Defiant Disorder.  One of the best methods for improving your child’s negative behaviors is to set clear rules and consequences for breaking those rules.  Then follow them CONSISTENTLY!!!  It’s time to impress upon your child that there are rules in life.  Oppositional Defiant children often defy rules and requests from authority figures, making them prime candidates for bullying.  Do you really want your child to be a bully?  Do you really want your child to spend the rest of his life in trouble with authority, such as the school principal, police, court, etc.?  Is that the future you want for your child?  Make sure your child understands that bullying will not be tolerated and set firm boundaries and consequences for such behavior.

3.  Try to understand the reasons behind the bullying behavior.  Is your child angry?  Is he having difficulty expressing his emotions in a healthy way?  Perhaps your child simply needs to learn conflict-resolution skills or problem-solving skills.

4.  Set a good example.  Our kids are like sponges.  They watch, model, and internalize EVERYTHING we do.  Not necessarily everything we say.  So model good behavior with others.  Don’t ridicule or name-call others, even adults.  Your child will begin to think that this is acceptable behavior by watching you interact with other adults this way.  Verbalize your feelings and frustrations in healthy ways.  Explain to your kids that you’re frustrated or feeling angry.  For example, next time a truck driver cuts you off on the interstate, instead of screaming “M***** F*****” and blaring your horn, try taking a deep breath and calmly tell your child, “Boy, that really made me mad.  It’s not nice to cut someone off on the interstate.  Someone could get hurt.”  What a switch, huh?

5.  Establish a positive parenting environment in your home.  Catch your children doing positive things.  Praise them when they interact positively with siblings, friends, parents, and other people in their lives.  Give attention every time your child is being positive.  Establishing a positive parenting environment in your home is the key to putting it all together.  A positive parenting home will teach your child to be positive themselves and not find enjoyment in hurting others.  Show your child how being positive, looking for the good in people, and helping people is a healthier and happier way to live life.

Behavior Management Coaching helps parents of Oppositional Defiant Children learn to establish firm, clear rules and expectations for their children before it’s too late!  We can help turn the negativity of your home into one of mutual respect.  Talk to us today.

What Every Parent Should Know About ODD

Even the best behaved child can have a meltdown or be cranky, especially when tired, hungry, stressed or upset. It’s normal for kids to argue, talk back, disobey, and defy parents, teachers, and other adults from time to time. But, how does a parent know if the problem is something to be concerned about or one that requires more in-depth attention?

That’s why I want to share an article I just read from the March/April 2014 edition of Scientific American. It explains how parent training works to help children with serious behavioral problems, like ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder), as well as helping everyone facing the task of raising kids. Parents are encouraged  to readily praise good behavior, but ignore annoying or disruptive actions—which is easier said than done if you’re a parent—especially if your child  has ODD.

Every parent should know more about what ODD is…and what to do about it.

When “cranky” turns to ODD

If your child has ODD, your household is probably upside down most of the time. Parents dread the constant temper tantrums and defiant, disrespectful behavior from their child or adolescent, or are constantly apologizing for public disruptions or classroom outbursts. It’s a more serious issue when this type of pattern of angry and verbally aggressive behaviors is frequent and consistent, affecting the child’s family, social, and academic life day-in and day-out.


According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, symptoms of ODD to watch for may include:

  • Frequent temper tantrums
  • Excessive arguing with adults
  • Often questioning rules
  • Active defiance and refusal to comply with adult requests and rules
  • Deliberate attempts to annoy or upset people
  • Blaming others for his or her mistakes or misbehavior
  • Often being touchy or easily annoyed by others
  • Frequent anger and resentment
  • Mean and hateful talking when upset
  • Spiteful attitude and revenge seeking 

They’ll outgrow it, right?


It’s not unusual for children—especially those in their “terrible twos” and early teens—to defy authority every now and then. However, when these defiant behaviors last for at least six months and are excessive, that may mean ODD.

It must be my fault…

Not necessarily, so don’t blame yourself.

Most experts agree that there is no clear-cut cause of ODD. They believe that a combination of biological, psychological, and social risk factors play a role in the development of the disorder.

When to seek help

If your child is showing signs of ODD, it’s very important to seek attention from a trained professional immediately. If you wait or don’t seek treatment, your children may experience rejection by classmates and other peers because of their poor social skills and aggressive and annoying behavior. In addition, children with ODD have a greater chance of developing a more serious behavioral disorder called conduct disorder (CD) or even an increased risk for substance abuse and delinquency. When started early, treatment is usually quite effective.

Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all treatment. You can help your child with ODD learn techniques to manage their anger and develop new ways of coping with stressful situations. Treatment also can help parents learn better ways to discipline and techniques to reward good behavior.

Treatment decisions are typically based on a number of different things, including the child’s age, the severity of the behaviors, and whether the child has a coexisting mental health condition.

Becoming a happier, more confident parent

We can help.

Behavior Management Coaching delivers the exact tools and skills you need to deal with a defiant child or one showing signs of ODD. Instead of making vague, wishy-washy promises to “build self-esteem,” our mission is to help desperate, frustrated, stressed out, and exhausted parents make real changes in their child’s behavior. Talk to us today.