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.
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.
Common behaviors seen in oppositional defiant disorder include:
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.
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.
What is the cause of ODD? The real answer is that nobody knows. However, since as scientist we hate to admit this, we have two current theories.
The developmental theory proposes that ODD is really a result of incomplete child development. For some reason, these children never complete the developmental tasks that normal children learn to master during the toddler years.
The learning theory suggests that ODD comes as a response to negative interactions. The techniques used by parents and authority figures on these children bring about the oppositional defiant behavior.
ODD is the most common psychiatric diagnosis in children and it usually persists into adulthood. One would think a lot of research would be done on this condition. That is not the case. While there are hundreds of research studies on ADHD and childhood mood disorders, there is very little research on ODD.
ODD is frequently goes along with other disorders. 50-65% of ODD children also have ADHD. 35% of these children develop some form of affective disorder. 20% have some form of mood disorder, such as depression or anxiety. 15% develop some form of personality disorder. These children frequently have learning disorders and academic difficulties.
If your child has ODD it is important to know there are other co-existing problems. These other problems usually must be addressed before you can begin to help your child with ODD.