What is Oppositional Defiant Disorder?
Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) is a childhood behavior disorder in which negative and disobedient behaviors are shown towards figures of authority. In order to confirm a diagnosis, the defiant and sometimes hostile behaviors must be present for a minimum period of six months.
Causes of Oppositional Defiant Disorder:
There is no clear cause of ODD, though there are several contributing factors:
- Natural disposition of the child
- Lack of regular supervision
- Inconsistent discipline or harsh discipline
- Abuse, neglect
- Developmental delays in the ability to process feelings and thoughts
- An imbalance of brain chemicals, serotonin for example
Related conditions to Oppositional Defiant Disorder:
- Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Conduct disorder
- Antisocial personality disorder (age 18 and older)
Risk Factors of Oppositional Defiant Disorder:
- Being a child of a parent with a substance abuse disorder
- A child of abuse or neglect
- A lack of supervision
- Exposure to violence
- Instability within the family, such as divorce, multiple moves of home or school
- A lack of parental involvement
- Parents have a history of ODD, ADHD, or similar conduct disorder
- Inconsistent discipline, or of a harsh nature
Symptoms of Oppositional Defiant Disorder:
Behaviors must be present for six months before diagnosis, and show a pattern of misbehavior beyond normal childhood actions in similar aged children.
- Specifically does not follow requests made by authority figures
- Shows anger towards others
- Blames other people for personal mistakes
- Anti-social with few friends
- Easily loses temper
- Acts in spiteful ways
- Easily annoyed
- Deliberately provoking others
Diagnosis of Oppositional Defiant Disorder:
Typically at least four of the above symptoms must be present with regularity for six months before a diagnosis of Oppositional Defiant Disorder will be made by a doctor.
In many cases, children with ODD also have one or more of the following conditions:
- Learning disorders
- Communication disorders
- Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
It is not uncommon for children with ODD to show signs or symptoms in the home setting, but not necessarily in a public setting. Children with this disorder typically show symptoms with adults or peers with whom they are familiar with, while behaving less defiant during clinical examination.
It is also important to note that to be diagnosed these symptoms must occur of their own accord, and not as part of another mental health condition, such as bipolar disorder or depression.
Treatment options for Oppositional Defiant Disorder:
- Therapy, both individual and family for anger management
- Parent-child interaction therapy
- Cognitive problem solving training to identify patterns that lead to negative behavior
- Social skills training to teach children how to interact in a positive manner
- Parent training to help the parents develop skills that will allow more positive interaction including training in effective timeouts, avoiding power struggles, and recognizing good behavior with appropriate rewards
It is important to keep a positive environment for the child, and to show them acceptance regardless of the level of difficulty involved. The process of converting negative behavior into positive behavior is often difficult for any parent or child.
If left untreated, children with ODD may struggle in school with teachers and other figures of authority, and may have difficulty in making friends or keeping them. ODD could also develop into deeper problems such as substance abuse or severe delinquency later in life.
Tips for living with Oppositional Defiant Disorder:
Treatment for children with ODD can begin in the home with small changes in the home environment and dynamic.
- Avoid power struggles by picking your battles carefully
- Set limits and enforce them for consistency
- Set a routine and stick with it
- Be an example of the behavior you wish to see in your child
- Schedule quality time together
- Set your child up for success with household chores that will give them a sense of importance to the family
Helping your child to convert negative behavior into positive will be challenging. It will not happen overnight, and your child may not be cooperative at first. Expect there to be setbacks, and possibly even relapses. The key is perseverance and consistency.
Additional Oppositional Defiant Disorder Resources:
Mayo Clinic is a nonprofit worldwide leader in medical care and research for people from all walks of life. Their mission is to inspire hope and contribute to health and well-being by providing the best care to every patient through integrated clinical practice, education and research.
US National Library of Medicine is the world’s largest medical library on the National Institutes of Health campus in Bethesda, Maryland. The Library holds a collection of materials and research on all areas of biomedicine and health care.
PsychCentral is the Internet’s largest and oldest independent mental health and psychology network. It is run by mental health professionals offering reliable, trusted information and over 160 support groups to visitors.