Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) is a childhood psychiatric disruptive behavior disorder.

ODD children typically are aggressive toward others. They tend to intentionally bother and irritate those around them. In addition, these children rebel against authority and will refuse to obey instructions for no particular reason. Oppositional Defiant Disorder children cause a lot of problems for those around them and are particularly difficult for parents, teachers, and other adults whose position demands obedience and authority.

Oppositional defiant children have trouble taking responsibility for their actions. Every problem, obstacle, or setback is always someone else’s fault. These children are stubborn and continually test limits. They frequently and unpredictably get angry, throw tantrums, and try the patience of those around them. ODD children break rules and refuse to take direction, even early in childhood.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder children tend to be manipulative. They are quite skilled at causing conflict all around them. They are very good at pitting adults against each other. Often an ODD child in the home will turn parent against parent, parents against teachers, and induce discord in those around them.

In short, ODD children:

  • Easily lose their temper
  • Constantly argue with adults
  • Refuse to carry out requests
  • Won’t obey rules
  • Intentionally bother those around them
  • Continually test limits and authority
  • Refuse to accept responsibility for their own mistakes or misbehavior
  • Are easily annoyed
  • Frequently get angered, resentful, spiteful, or vindictive.
  • Are mean when upset
  • Take revenge when they feel wronged
  • Throw temper tantrums even when older

There are a number of drug interventions that are used to treat ODD children. The focus of these drugs is to treat the other conditions that often accompany Oppositional Defiant Disorder in the hope that the ODD will also improve. However, to date, there is still no proven medical treatment that addresses Oppositional Defiant Disorder directly.

At this time, the primary way to treat Oppositional Defiant Disorder is through parent training programs. These programs are extremely effective in improving defiant behavior and are the only effective way to deal directly with ODD.

The main problem with parent training programs is that they are extremely expensive. Usually these programs are led by a psychologist or another mental health professional, last many months, and can carry a price tag of several thousands dollars. However, parents who have the money and are willing to spend it, find that these programs do make a difference.

However, a new study now suggests that parents have a better option.

Recently, researchers at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago tested three different ways of administering parent training programs. The purpose of the study was to determine if a professionally directed parent training program was more effective than a self-administered home based program in treating Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). They studied 117 parents who received either psychologist led parent training, nurse led parent training, or a home based self-administered parent training program.

The results were quite significant. Even one year after the study, all three groups of parents had significant improvement in their homes. However, it didn’t matter which group the parents were in. They all experienced about the same amount of improvement.

The only significant difference was in the length of time parents enrolled in the program. Those who spend more time got significantly better results. It is important to note that this study did not show that just books on parenting help at all.

What this study means for you is that you don’t need to shell out thousands of dollars to get the help you need for your ODD child. You can get the same results in a much more cost effective way, by enrolling in an online ODD child behavior program or in an ODD defiant teen program.

There are three factors you want present in any program you choose. The first thing to consider is that the program should be designed for the age of your child. This is because the way you approach a teenager is entirely different than the way you handle a younger child.

If your child is 11 years old or younger you should look for a program that was created for children in that age group. If your child is already a pre-teen or teen, you need a program designed for teenagers. Stay away from a “one size fits all” type of program.

The second factor is that the program should be designed with ODD children in mind. These children operate differently than other children. If you try to use standard parenting techniques with them you are headed for major problems.

The third thing you need in a good program is that it should give you step-by-step instructions. A lot of the big programs that are available today throw out a lot of ideas and techniques, but they don’t provide you with a framework on how to apply these ideas. They leave it to you to pick and choose.

When you choose a program that gives you a sequential approach on how to parent your difficult defiant child, you will be able to develop an overall strategy that allows you to build from one tactic to another. This is much more effective than sporadically addressing problems as they come up.

Anthony Kane, MD is a physician, an international lecturer, and director of special education. He is the author of a book, numerous articles, and a number of online programs dealing with ADHD treatment, ODD, child behavior issues, and education. You may visit his website, ADD ADHD Advances, and sign up for the ADD ADHD Advances online journal.