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Teacher's Corner: How to handle a student with Oppositional Defiant Disorder

August 15, 2018

Making sure a class full of kids stays ordered and occupied is hard work. A teacher has her work cut out with having to ensure that every child is given the same attention and care.

But what does a teacher do when a child behaves in a way that is harmful for the class and for the chid itself? Such kids break every rule that the teacher might have set in the class.

Such behaviour which carries on over a continued period of time and does not change even after repeated corrections, could be possible signs of Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). This might need the help of a counsellor to be addressed.

Classroom ODD is categorised by a pattern of angry or short-tempered mood and defiant behaviour, in students. The most common behaviour shown is arguing with school authorities like teachers and educators and refusing to obey school rules.

As per studies, ODD affects 2 to 16% of children and adolescents in the overall population. The disorder can last for about six months. It has been found to co-exist in about 50% of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Children with ADHD can develop ODD at any time. If left untreated, it can lead to more serious issues. So, this is a condition that needs immediate medical intervention.

Signs of ODD

  • Anger and bitterness.
  • Tendency to get into an argument.
  • Short-tempered nature.
  • Reluctance to follow adults' requests or instructions.
  • Tendency to irritate, anger people.
  • Being mean.

How is ODD caused?

  • Maybe environmental, inherited, biological or medical in nature.
  • Found in children from dysfunctional families, who get little support.
  • Such kids may have demanding parents who interfere with their children's learning.
  • Children with history of mental illness in other family members may be vulnerable.

There are various treatments that include psychoanalysis, parent and teacher management training and skills training.

How to tackle ODD

  • Students with ODD do much better with rewards than punishments.
  • Give opportunities to the student to show their skills.
  • When there is a change in schedule, prepare children with ODD individually.
  • Praise positive behaviour.


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