At home, you can begin chipping away at problem behaviors by practicing the following:
- Recognize and praise your child's positive behaviors. Be as specific as possible, such as, "I really liked the way you helped pick up your toys tonight."
- Model the behavior you want your child to have.
- Pick your battles. Avoid power struggles. Almost everything can turn into a power struggle — if you let it.
- Set limits and enforce consistent reasonable consequences.
- Set up a routine. Develop a consistent daily schedule for your child. Asking your child to help develop that routine may be beneficial.
- Build in time together. Develop a consistent weekly schedule that involves you and your child spending time together.
- Work with your partner or others in your household to ensure consistent and appropriate discipline procedures.
- Assign your child a household chore that's essential and that won't get done unless the child does it. Initially, it's important to set your child up for success with tasks that are relatively easy to achieve and gradually blend in more important and challenging expectations. Give clear, easy-to-follow instructions.
At first, your child probably won't be cooperative or appreciate your changed response to his or her behavior. Expect that you'll have setbacks and relapses, and be prepared with a plan to manage those times. In fact, behavior can temporarily worsen when new limits and expectations are set. However, with perseverance and consistency, the initial hard work often pays off with improved behavior and relationships.
Nov. 25, 2014
- Oppositional defiant disorder. In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-IV-TR. 4th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association; 2000. http://www.psychiatryonline.com. Accessed Oct. 25, 2011.
- Nurcombe B. Oppositional defiant disorder and conduct disorder. In: Ebert MH, et al, eds. Current Diagnosis and Treatment: Psychiatry. 2nd ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2011. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=3290408. Accessed Oct. 25, 2011.
- Disruptive behavioral disorders. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/pediatrics/mental_disorders_in_children_and_adolescents/disruptive_behavioral_disorders.html#v1106068. Accessed Oct. 25, 2011.
- Hamilton SS. Oppositional defiant disorder. American Family Physician. 2008;78:861.
- Children with oppositional defiant disorder. American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. http://www.aacap.org/cs/root/facts_for_families/children_with_oppositional_defiant_disorder. Accessed Oct. 25, 2011.
- Steiner H. Practice parameter for the assessment and treatment of children and adolescents with oppositional defiant disorder. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. 2007;46:126.
- Loeber R, et al. Perspectives on oppositional defiant, conduct disorder, and psychopathic features. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. 2009;50:133.
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