Essentials: Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) - A Guide For Teachers

Essentials: Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) - A Guide For Teachers

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Welcome to another episode of School Behaviour Secrets!

Have you ever wondered about that one child in every class who seems to challenge authority at every turn? Well, they might be affected by Oppositional Defiant Disorder, or ODD. But what exactly does it mean when a child is diagnosed with ODD? And how do you support them?

Join us as we explore how Oppositional Defiant Disorder impacts students in the classroom, what behaviours teachers might observe, and most importantly, the strategies available to support these pupils. Stay tuned for valuable insights and practical tips on navigating ODD in educational settings.

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Show notes / transcription

Simon Currigan

Ever wondered if a pupil you teach has oppositional defiant disorder or ODD? Join us on the latest episode of School Behaviour Secrets as we remove some of the fog and confusion surrounding ODD in the classroom from understanding its impact on pupils to recognizing the behaviours that may surface in the classroom, we've got you covered. Don't miss out.

It's time to demystify ODD. Welcome to the School Behaviour Secrets podcast. I'm your host, Simon Currigan. My co host is Emma Shackleton, and we're obsessed with helping teachers, school leaders, parents, and, of course, students when classroom behaviour gets in the way of success. We're gonna share the tried and tested secrets to classroom management, behavioural special needs, whole school strategy, and more, all with the aim of helping your students reach their true potential. Plus, we'll be letting you eavesdrop on our conversations with thought leaders from around the world. So you'll get to hear the latest evidence based strategies before anyone else.

This is the School Behaviour Secrets podcast. Hi there. Simon Currigan here, and I'm back today to share with you another mini essentials episode of School Behaviour Secrets where we share key strategies and insights from an earlier episode that can have an immediate impact on the students that you work with. And as always, if you're enjoying this podcast, please make sure you subscribe in your podcast app so you don't miss out on a single episode. So without further ado, let's jump in. This week, we're heading all the way back to January 2022 to original episode number 47 where my co host, Emma Shackleton, and I took a deep dive into helping educators understand the complexities of ODD.

Emma Shackleton

So ODD is more about that high need to be in control, whereas PDA is about the anxiety that comes around other people making demands upon them.

Simon Currigan

Because we've got similar behaviours but different driving needs, it means our response to those needs needs to be different. So let's think about why do kids develop ODD?

What causes it? And the truth is, at the moment, researchers don't know. They're not assured. There's all sorts of research going on to this, but ODD hasn't been linked to any one specific cause. One factor might be it might be developmental. It might be linked to changes in the prefrontal cortex. Now we've talked about the prefrontal cortex lots and lots and lots in this podcast.

If you've listened before, you'll know it's the part of the brain that deals with executive functions. It deals with regulating mood, accepting constraints, being flexible, regulating your emotions and social interaction. So if that child has a prefrontal cortex that's wired slightly differently, it's going to affect their ability to integrate in class. It's going to affect their ability to be flexible. They're going to want to be more in control of their own actions and demands, and it might affect the way they perceive other people and engage socially.

Emma Shackleton

And, of course, researchers are wondering if ODD could be genetic. So that means that it would be inherited from 1 or both parents, like some other disorders, like autism, like ADHD, for example.

Simon Currigan

Another question I often get asked about ODD is, is it learned? Okay. Is this something to do with parenting? And the truth is kids with ODD will present very, very challenging behavior in the home, which will often result in that negative behaviour being reinforced from parents, you know, by giving too much attention, which feeds that behaviour in future, or parents might not feel they have the skills in place to put in place consistent boundaries because, otherwise, they would constantly be putting in place boundaries with their kids for every little behaviour, and some parents will stop trying to enforce those boundaries just for the sake of some harmony in the household. So if you've got ODD, you're gonna bring more challenging behaviour, which is going to need a different kind of parenting style.

Emma Shackleton

Well, that's right. And it's important to note that bad parenting alone can't cause ODD on its own. It's a bit like chicken and egg. ODD kids are naturally harder to parent because of their temperament, which can lead then to a negative parenting style, and that results in more challenging behaviour, which is even harder to parent, and around and around and around we go.

Simon Currigan

So let's have a look at a couple of strategies that will work with kids in the classroom who present ODD. So kids with ODD often respond well to extrinsic rewards. So it's time to break out those reward charts. Now in this podcast, we've talked in the past how the ideal is, you know, to encourage kids with intrinsic behaviour that we do the right thing because it's the right thing, but you've got to work with what you've got. You've got to use what's affected with the children that are in front of you. And the fact is research shows that using extrinsic reward systems is very effective with kids with ODD. So we need to get our reward charts.

And on those reward charts, we need to be very specific about the behaviours we are looking for from that child. We want to make the criteria for success objective. So we could put on a target along the lines of to behave better in class.

But, actually, what does that mean? It could mean a variety of things. It could be about how you engage during whole class introductions and whole class conversations. It could be about trying hard with your work. It could be about not being physically aggressive to the other children. It's just too broad. So with our reward chart, we need to be super specific about the things we're looking for.

So that might be along the lines of putting up your hand 3 times on the carpet. That is something the child has done or not done. Where there is a gray area and bear in mind, the child here with ODD, one of their characteristics is they're going to be argumentative If your targets are in in that gray area or woolly, you know, and you're using a reward chart, then they might start arguing about whether they've achieved the target or not. So we want something they've done or they haven't done that's very, very objective. And then we need to be consistent on our expectations and delivering the rewards. If we say we're gonna promise something, if they get 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 stickers on their chart, then we have to deliver it. Otherwise, the child won't believe in the system, won't believe they're gonna get the rewards and it loses its effectiveness.

Another thing you can do with reward charts is to vary the rewards because the system gets boring otherwise. And if your criteria are simple and objective, there's no middle ground to argue about whether the reward was earned. Use phrases, if they try to argue like, I'm not going to argue about what I've seen with my own eyes and the decision has been made when you're discussing whether the child has met the criteria or not.

That will close down the argument. I

Emma Shackleton

think closing down the argument is key actually because sometimes adults get very drawn into arguments with children, and children with ODD are like world class arguers. They're very well practiced. What we've got to realize is that an argument is like a game of table tennis.

It takes 2. So one person, the adult, needs to put the bat down and walk away. So having those closure phrases like I'm not going to argue or the decision has been made, and then should be physically turning away, walking away, indicating. What I sometimes see is adults saying, I'm not going to argue about it, and then carrying on arguing about it. So you've got to, you know, say it with conviction. And don't worry if you don't have the last word. So don't worry if the child comes back with something because they will, but be the grown up, and don't you feel like you have to have the last word.

So let them have their say. You say what you need to say, and then that's it. Stop engaging with that behaviour. Otherwise, it's easy to get tied up in knots, and you start negotiating and compromising and going round and round in circles, and it just gets really complicated. So choose to put them back down and walk away. Another useful strategy is to give lots of choices about the work where you can. So you can give choices about where it's done, for example.

So you can say to the child, it's up to you. You can work here at the table, or you can work in the book corner, or you can lay on the beanbag to do your work. You can give choices about how the work is done. So maybe let them use to write in pen or write in pencil or write on a whiteboard and photocopy it or use post it notes or have a special notebook. Give choices so it doesn't feel like you are trying to control everything. And a great way to do that is use the language of choice. So say things like, when you're ready, or it's up to you, or you decide, and that really takes away that pressure of the adult trying to control the child, and it helps the child with ODD to feel like they've got some control and they are doing some of the decision making.

Simon Currigan

Linked to that is an approach called limited choice for managing behaviour. Very, very similarly, imagine you've got a child who's refusing to come in from outside. What you do is give them 2 separate options. So you might say to them, well, you can go in through the reception door, or you can come in through the year 6 door. And giving them that choice makes them feel like they're in control of the outcome. And as Emma said, finish that off by saying, you know, it's your choice. You're in control.

So you can go in through reception or you can go in through year 6. It's entirely your choice.

I don't mind.

Emma Shackleton

I think with limited choices too, it's important to make sure that you're limiting to probably 2 choices and make sure that you're happy with either outcome because where I've seen this technique fail is where the adult has given 2 choices, one that they would really like the child to pick and one that they don't want the child to pick. So in your example, Simon, about coming in, if the adult says, well, you can either come in or you can stay out when really you want them to come in, you know what's gonna happen. The child is going to choose the, well, I'll stay outside choice then. And if you've given that as an option, it feels like, oh, you've been foiled. So make sure you think through the options and you're happy with either one. So if you're given the option, you can come through the reception door or come in through the year 6 door. Don't then tell them off for choosing the year 6 door if that's what they do.

Simon Currigan

And you've gotta sound super neutral. Not like you're trying to force them towards one choice. You gotta sound super neutral. Now is not the time to be assertive. It's more dialing it back to neutral saying, yeah, do that one or that one. I don't mind either way.

Emma Shackleton

It's feigning a little bit of disinterest, so it takes the heat out of it, isn't it?

Simon Currigan

And if you'd like to hear more, just click the link at the bottom of the episode description, your podcast app, to head back to original episode 47. If you found today's episode helpful, please take a moment to rate and review us. It takes just 30 seconds. And did you know that hitting that subscribe button not only helps you stay updated with all the latest episodes, but it also supports our mission to spread valuable insights to fellow teachers, school leaders, and parents who could really benefit from this information. Yep. It's a bit like giving a high five to the education community and saying, let's make a difference together. So go ahead, hit subscribe and let's keep this learning journey going strong.

Thanks for listening. I look forward to seeing you next time for another educational episode of School Behaviour Secrets.

(This automated transcript may not be 100% accurate.)