Oppositional Defiant Disorder

Closeup of an angry teen with his arm raised to strike

Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) is a psychiatric behavior disorder that is characterized by aggressiveness and a tendency to purposefully bother and irritate others. These behaviors cause significant difficulties with family and friends and at school or work.

Description

Oppositional defiant children show a consistent pattern of refusing to follow commands or requests by adults. These children repeatedly lose their temper, argue with adults, and refuse to comply with rules and directions. They are easily annoyed and blame others for their mistakes. Children with ODD show a pattern of stubbornness and frequently test limits, even in early childhood.

These children can be manipulative and often induce discord in those around them. Commonly they can incite parents and other family members to fight with one and other rather than focus on the child, who is the source of the problem.

Behavioral Symptoms

Common behaviors seen in oppositional defiant disorder include:

  • Losing one’s temper
  • Arguing with adults
  • Actively defying requests
  • Refusing to follow rules
  • Deliberately annoying other people
  • Blaming others for one’s own mistakes or misbehavior
  • Being touchy, easily annoyed
  • Being easily angered, resentful, spiteful, or vindictive
  • Speaking harshly, or unkind when upset
  • Seeking revenge
  • Having frequent temper tantrums

Many parents report that their ODD children were rigid and demanding from an early age.

Normal children, especially around the ages or 2 or 3 or during the teenage years display most of these behaviors from time to time. When children are tired, hungry, or upset, they may be defiant. However, children with oppositional defiant disorder display these behaviors more frequently and to the extent that they and interfere with learning, school adjustment, and, sometimes, with the child’s social relationships.

Diagnosis

The diagnosis of ODD is not always straight forward and needs to be made by a psychiatrist or some other qualified mental health professional after a comprehensive evaluation. The child must be evaluated for other disorders as well since ODD usually does not come alone. If the child has ADHD, mood disorders, or anxiety disorders, these other problems must be addressed before you can begin to work with the ODD.

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Anthony Kane, MD has been helping parents of ADHD and Oppositional Defiant Disorder children online since 2003. Join over three thousand parents and get help for your Oppositional Defiant Disorder child, help with defiant out of control teens and ADHD treatment and ADHD information.

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