An oppositional child can create disruption at home and at school.

Behavior Plans for Oppositional Children

by Joanna Ehlers

An oppositional child can create overwhelming disruption at home and in an educational environment. Oppositional children can act out with negativity, defiance, disobedience or outright hostility toward adult authorities. Concerned parents can help oppositional children by enlisting a trusted physician who can assist them in forming plans for the child's success in the home and at school.

1. Oppositional Behaviors

Most children go through developmental stages where opposition occurs, according to the Mayo Clinic. Oppositional behavior, such as tantrums, arguing, or refusal to comply with adult requests or rules, may occur during these phases, but if the behaviors last for a time period of more than six months, a parent might suspect Oppositional Defiant Disorder. ODD behaviors can manifest in children younger than 8 and may cause them to be easily annoyed by others, behave aggressively toward peers and have academic difficulties. These children often experience a lack of self-esteem and feel that adults have unreasonably high expectations of them. ODD is usually coupled with another behavioral or mental disorder, such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or depression. Contact a health care professional if you think your child might be suffering from a disorder.

2. Functional Behavioral Assessment

When a child's behavior becomes disruptive to his education and that of others, teachers and administrators at the school may call on parents to help them form a Behavior Intervention Plan. Before such a plan can be formulated, a Functional Behavioral Assessment will be conducted. An FBA is a meeting where school teachers, parents and other faculty determine problem behaviors and their causes. During the FBA, instances when the child is not disruptive will also be discussed so that faculty and parents can understand what it is that makes those times positive, according to the School Psychologist Files.

3. Behavior Intervention Plan

Once the Functional Behavioral Assessment has been completed, the school can implement a Behavior Intervention Plan. A BIP is a formal way to document interventions by staff that help improve a child's behavior. According to the School Psychologist Files, a BIP must be specific, clearly stated, and name the people responsible for interventions or rewards. When an intervention is implemented, it should focus on teaching the student new skills, as well as acceptable behavior. A BIP may modify the setting in the student's classroom or his teacher's curriculum and pinpoint previous events to disruptive behavior. Reinforcement for positive behavior may be included.

4. A Plan at Home

Oppositional children can disrupt life at home, making their parents' lives challenging. Treatment for ODD can help to restore a child's self-esteem and rebuild a positive relationship between affected family members, according to the Mayo Clinic. A licensed child psychologist or child behavior expert can help the family formulate a plan for the home that may include training for the child's parents. As a part of this training, parents might be required to implement timeouts, learn to avoid power struggles and remain calm when confrontation erupts. Parents can assign their oppositional child with a necessary task or chore around the house and praise them when they execute it correctly. Keeping regular meal times and prioritizing family time can strengthen family ties, while providing acceptable choices to the child give him some sense of control.

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