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Oppositional Defiant Disorder


Oppositional Defiant Disorder, commonly referred to as ODD, is a behavior disorder that is characterized by defiance toward authority. Children and adolescents with ODD often rebel, are stubborn, argue with adults, and refuse to obey. They may have angry outbursts and have a hard time controlling their tempers.

Some of these characteristics are common in all children or may be present in a strong-willed child, but those with ODD show a constant pattern of angry and verbally aggressive behaviors, usually aimed at parents and other authority figures. The most common behaviors that children and adolescents with ODD show are:

• Defiance

• Spitefulness

• Negativity

• Hostility

• Verbal Aggression

What Causes ODD?

Three potential risk factors may contribute to an ODD diagnosis:  Biological, Social or Psychological.


The following biological factors may play a part in ODD:

• A parent with a history of ODD, ADHD or Conduct Disorder

• A parent with substance abuse issues

• A mother who smoked or took drugs during pregnancy

• Poor nutrition

• A parent with a mood disorder

Social/Psychological Factors

• Dysfunctional/chaotic home environment

• Emotional/physical abuse, neglect

• Poverty

• Instability within the family

• Uninvolved parents and lack of supervision

• Inability to form social relationships

How is ODD Treated?

Treatment depends on the child's age, needs and behavioral issues. ODD can coexist with other conditions such as ADHD, anxiety disorders, mood disorders and language/learning deficits and disorders. The best treatment is a holistic approach including possible medication, behavioral counseling and parental support. School based programs are also important. Consistency between the types of discipline used at home and at school is crucial. Close parent and teacher communication is encouraged, and behavior tracking materials may be implemented both at home and school.

Parent education and support has been shown to be one of the most effective tools when working with families of ODD children. Parents are encouraged to use consistent, positive parenting practices including support, discipline and punishment for disruptive behavior. Predictable and immediate consequences are encouraged as well as regular and appropriate supervision of the child. Strict and unchanging schedules for daily activities and bedtime, as well as enforcement of household rules and rules for proper behavior are critical.

Parenting children with ODD is not an easy task, but early diagnosis and intervention can provide a framework for families and children. With medication, therapy and positive parenting, many children will live more peaceful and symptom free lives.