“What Parents Need to Know About ODD” (revised)


ISBN 978-1-878878-73-1 (paperback)

"What Parents Need to Know About ODD140 pages, 8.5×11″ with references, 2007



A message from Dr. James Sutton, child and adolescent psychologist and author (an introduction to What Parents Need to Know About ODD):


I’d like to share with you just one of hundreds of emails I have received from parents. The mother of an eight-year-old boy wrote:


My son is so angry and defiant. I never know what is going to

set him off. I am TOTALLY exhausted.


Can you identify with this mother’s frustration and pain? She loves her son more than life itself; she just can’t LIVE with him.

Other parents have told me of their fear (bordering on panic, really) that their child was going to fail a grade in school. The youngster wasn’t doing enough work to pass. And all the checklists, phone calls, notes and nail-biting conferences between home and school weren’t making a dent in the problem.

As a parent myself (and a psychologist and author), these emails touched my heart. Then came an impossible challenge: In a few words or sentences of an email reply, I was supposed to make their pain go away.

A challenge indeed.

Challenges can be good things, however. They can move us to action. Armed with all those emails and phone calls, I compiled an online guide (e-book) for parents that addressed common concerns and issues with difficult and defiant youngsters, issues like:

DEALING with a youngster who is always irritable and angry.

HANDLING defiant and sometimes in-your-face behaviors.

MANAGING sibling struggles and strife.

ACCOMPLISHING simple chores at home without making it WWIII.

REDUCING whining and procrastination.

TALKING to this child without it becoming a shouting match.

ACHIEVING more success in school with less hassle and inconvenience.

IMPLEMENTING ways to rekindle a loving parent-child relationship.

Encouraged by the success of the first online guide (a booklet with an audio CD), I became intent on making it even better, to make it even more useful and practical. I revised it; it now contains almost 50% more information and encouragement, and even more practical ideas and insights for dealing with an oppositional son, daughter or student.

This guide, What Parents Need to Know About ODD, revised,” is brimming over with practical ideas and interventions for working with difficult kids at home and school. (ODD means “Oppositional Defiant Disorder,” but the book addresses the whole range of defiant behaviors). In fact, two of the 14 chapters deal specifically with school issues and concrete ways to boost performance at school. (The chapters on school contain “insider” tips from my early years as a teacher, as well as “best practice” strategies and ideas from top educators across the country who have shown the ability to excel with difficult, defiant and noncompliant students. Can you imagine the school’s surprise when you share a few of those tidbits with them?)

This newer guide contains valuable insights into oppositional and defiant behaviors, showing parents how coercive conflict not only gets started, but how it can be effectively shut down. The guide shows how timing of our intervention can make all the difference, and, of course, how to confront lovingly, but effectively (instead of perpetually). It shows you how to slowly but surely begin to change a youngster’s negative perspective of authority figures, as well as numerous ways to emphasize positivity in relationships

Is this information available through other sources, especially free, no-cost sources. Yes, some of it is, starting with the articles you probably have already seen on my website. Then there are online chat rooms, blogs, websites, and listserv sites that offer help. They can help; no one source has all the answers. But, unless you especially relish the task of tapping into the knowledge of dozens of experts on the subject of oppositional and defiant behavior in young people, and buy or borrow 22 books and references on the topic (EXACTLY what is in this current, revised guide) and digest them all into a concise, useable form, What Parents Need to Know About ODD, revised, is a 140-page, 8.5×11” format, all-in-one-package gold mine that offers REAL help. And the best part is that the hard work of putting it together is already done.

My reputation of 30+ years is important to me; I value and guard it. It’s important enough to me that I bounce my ideas off a few colleagues before I make them public in printed form. Here’s what some of them have said about What Parents Need to Know About ODD, revised.

Dr. Marvin Marshall, author of Discipline without Stress, Punishments or Rewards wrote:

Dr. James Sutton’s newest book is a godsend. It gives specific, insightful, and in-depth suggestions for reducing parents’ stress levels while becoming more successful in dealing with difficult youth.

Howard Glasser, author of Transforming the Difficult Child wrote:

Dr. Sutton’s wealth of knowledge makes a tremendous contribution to the field of treatment of ODD, as does his creative treasure house of innovative interventions and ideas.

Dr. Jeffrey Bernstein, author of 10 Days to a Less Defiant Child wrote:

Dr. Sutton hits it on the mark from every angle about what defiant children and their parents think and do. With his extensive years of clinical practice behind him, Dr. Sutton clearly knows what works to reduce defiance and the problems related to it.


What Parents Need to Know About ODD, revised, is NOT a magical, one-size-fits-all panacea for fixing everything. Frankly, some youngsters are beyond the help a book can provide. They will require hands-on, face-to-face assistance and therapy.

This book will not restore a failing marriage or cure an alcoholic or otherwise compulsive parent, nor will it be much use to a parent who isn’t motivated to try the interventions offered. (Interestingly enough, one chapter in this guide, “When Things Get Tougher,” does address some of these more difficult issues, while another chapter focuses on how to find a good counselor or therapist or, if needed, how to find a suitable out-of-home placement.)