What Is Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)?

A closeup of a very angry little boy glaring at the camera.

oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) is a disorder in which children ignore or defy adults’ requests and rules. They may be passive, finding ways to annoy others, or active, verbally saying “No”. They tend to blame others for their mistakes and difficulties. When asked why they are so defiant, they may say that they are only acting against unreasonable rules. They are different from children with conduct disorders in that they do not violate the rights of others. These behaviors are present at home, but not necessarily in other situations, such as school, or with other adults, although they may be.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder usually begins by age 8, and not later than adolescence generally. Often times, it is the child with the difficult-child temperament who goes on to become oppositionally defiant. Boys manifest the disorder more often before puberty, but after puberty the ratio evens out. The children display a low self-esteem, mood changes, low frustration tolerance, and temper outbursts. ADHD may also be present. Children with oppositional defiant disorder may continue on to manifest conduct disorder.

Treatment of oppositional defiant disorder has poor outcomes. When the parents are overly restrictive, the child fights back more, resulting in a power struggle. Some individual therapies and family therapies have been successful, but not to a great extent.

Derek Wood is a Nationally Board Certified Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse, and holds a Master's degree in Psychology. His experience in the online arena of mental health can be traced back to 1997, when he was a host for Online Psych on AOL. He joined Get Mental Help, Inc. as Clinical Content Director for Mental Health Matters. Derek, with his wife Lisa, developed the original version of psychTracker (then called A Mood Journal), after his diagnosis with Schizo-Affective Bipolar, when they could not find a system available that was robust enough to help him effectively manage his symptoms and accurately interpret his charting. Derek has worked in the field of mental health since 2001, as a Unit Manager of an adult long-term treatment facility, a charge nurse in an adolescent short-term inpatient facility and long-term residential facility, and as a School Psychologist. He has also written several articles which are being used as CEU for nurses and educators.

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