Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)

According to the Mayo Clinic, “even the best-behaved children can be difficult and challenging at times. But if your child or teenager has a frequent and persistent pattern of anger, irritability, arguing, defiance or vindictiveness toward you and other authority figures, he or she may have oppositional defiant disorder (ODD).”

Symptoms Include: Angry and irritable moods, argumentative and defiant behavior and vindictiveness.

There are three levels of ODD: mild, moderate and severe.

Causes: There is no determined cause of ODD. However, researchers indicate that likely genetics and environment play a role in the disorder. Children can have a natural disposition or temperament and possibly neurobiological differences in the way nerves and the brain function. From an environmental stand point, problems with parenting that may involve a lack of supervision, inconsistent or harsh discipline, or abuse or neglect.

Researchers have identified several risk factors that may contribute to the development of ODD:

  • Temperament — a child who has a temperament that includes difficulty regulating emotions, such as being highly emotionally reactive to situations or having trouble tolerating frustration

  • Parenting issues — a child who experiences abuse or neglect, harsh or inconsistent discipline, or a lack of parental supervision

  • Other family issues — a child who lives with parent or family discord or has a parent with a mental health or substance use disorder

  • Environment — oppositional and defiant behaviors can be strengthened and reinforced through attention from peers and inconsistent discipline from other authority figures, such as teachers

Possible issues surrounding ODD:                                          Co Occurring Disorders:

  • Poor school and work performance                      - ADHD

  • Antisocial behavior                                                 - Conduct disorder

  • Impulse control problems                                         - Depression

  • Substance use disorder                                           - Anxiety

  • Suicide                                                                        - Learning and communication disorders

Diagnosis must come from a professional who completes a thorough psychological evaluation with a child. This is necessary due to symptoms of ODD also being common with other illnesses.

Treatment modalities include: parent training, parent-child interaction therapy, individual and family therapy, cognitive problem-solving training and social skills training.

Mayo Clinic. (2019). Oppositional Defiant Disorder.