Reacting VS Responding to ADHD/ODD (Four Steps) [VLOG]

Parenting a child with ADHD can be extremely frustrating and challenging, especially when your child has a habit of being oppositional and testing your limits and authority.

Often times explosive battles and arguments leave both parent and child feeling shame, guilt, and frustration. This breakdown in communication causes a strain on your relationship, disrupts routines, and adds a ton of stress on top of an already stressful situation.

You know you need to approach the problem in a different way, but sometimes you feel stuck, like you don't know what to say and how to say it, and the whole situation feels hopeless.

In this Vlog, you'll learn how ADHD causes ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder), how reacting is different than responding, and how to respond when your child is being defiant. I'll share with you the exact four-step system that you can practice over and over again to slowly help your child shift their habits overtime.


Parent Goals:

  1. Understand ADHD and ODD.

  2. Understand Reacting vs Responding.

  3. Use communication as a tool to help your child manage their emotions and actions, and help them slowly shift their behavior over time.

1. Understanding ADHD + ODD (Source: Dr. Russel Barkley)

  • ADHD is a developmental disability, which means it affects how your child develops over time.

  • There is no cure for it, it will need to be managed throughout their life.

  • ADHD causes your child to exhibit age-inappropriate behavior.

  • Their behavior levels out in early 30’s but they will be behind peers their age.

  • Quantitative, not qualitative difference.

  • First area that ADHD affects is inhibitory control (inhibitions are what allow us to think things through - our thoughts, words, actions, and emotions)

  • Children with ADHD experience the same emotions, but the difference is they impulsively express them without the ability to judge whether or not that act will get them to their desired goal.

  • They are unable to self-soothe or self-calm.

  • ODD - Oppositional Defiance Disorder is a consequence of’s just a matter of time before your child’s inability to manage their mood, anger, temper, or annoyance translates into hostile, defiant and conflicting interactions with parents, peers, siblings, and teachers.

  • Learn more about ODD symptoms here.

2. Understanding Reacting VS Responding

Reacting to your child's negative habits with frustration, arguing, or punishment causes the problem to get worse.

Here's what happens when you REACT

  • A breakdown in communication.

  • A strain on your relationship.

  • Feelings of anger, shame, low self-esteem.

  • Lack of trust.

  • The problem to reoccur/get worse.

  • Trains your child to act when there's a fear of a consequence.

  • Does not help your child build self-awareness.

  • Reflects your child's behavior and models reactive behavior back to them.

Here's what happens when you RESPOND

  • Helps your child feel heard and understood.

  • Builds trust that you respect their feelings.

  • Helps you reinforce limits and boundaries.

  • Helps your child practice self-calming/soothing techniques.

  • Helps your child learn how to solve problems.

  • Gives you an opportunity to model self-awareness and self-regulation.

3. Using the FOUR-STEP Response to help your child to manage their emotions and actions.

STEP 1 - Replace TIME OUT with CALM DOWN.

  • Create a "calm down" space in your home.

  • Put down pillows, squeeze balls, fidget items, a photo album of family members, music, writing or drawing materials...etc.

  • When your child acts out, acknowledge how they feel, and that you will help them calm down. SAY: "You're feeling _____, come and sit with me for a few minutes to calm down. You are showing me that you need a break, and I'll help you take a breather."

  • Acknowledge what happened, how they feel, let them express themselves. SAY, "Tell me more..." Pause, listen, and watch.

  • If you find that you lost your patience, and wish to take back what you said in a heated moment, SAY: "I was really feeling frustrated, I used a loud voice and I got upset. I forgot to take some deep breaths and what I meant to say was..."

STEP 2 - Set a LIMIT and give a BRIEF reason for it.

  • Be calm, and state it as a matter of fact.

  • Don't ask questions.

  • SAY, "We have a rule about video games, the limit is 1 hour so you can have time to finish homework (or dinner, or chores, or spend time w/family)."

  • Be consistent in your rules and limits.

  • Make it brief.

STEP 3 - Talk about better choices, suggest ways your child can help you solve the problem.

  • Be positive, focus on what you want your child to do instead of what you don't want them to do.

  • Use the "head-scratcher" technique to invite your child to help you solve the problem. SAY, "I wonder if there's a way we can make it easier for you to stop playing and feel better."

  • Give choices.

  • Be creative and use humor.

  • Collaborate.

STEP 4 - Acknowledge when your child is putting in effort and catch your child being good!

  • It is important to acknowledge every tiny step in the right direction.

  • Don't expect your child to change overnight, instead praise every amount of effort they put into the solution.

  • Catch your child being awesome, and comment on what they do well.

All of us slip up and act on our frustrations. Parenting a child with ADHD and ODD can be exhausting, frustrating, and emotionally taxing. Don't beat yourself up if you slip up once in a while and react with your frustration. Instead, use the above process to turn every conflict into a beautiful opportunity to help your child learn and grow.