Oppositional Defiant Disorder

Children affected by Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) are different from children who have normal oppositional behaviors from time to time. Children and adolescents with ODD are particularly defiant, hostile and stubborn on a consistent basis that is outside normal levels for children at the same developmental stage. This can cause many problems, including a failure in academic, social and familial settings.

Symptoms of Oppositional Defiant Disorder:

  • Serious problem listening to any authoritative figure
  • Constant arguing, rule-breaking and failure to comply
  • Throwing frequent temper-tantrums
  • Purposely annoying or irritating people
  • Becoming very easily annoyed by others
  • Blaming others for mistakes
  • Vengeful, resentful behavior
  • Mean or hurtful way of speaking to others

Causes of Oppositional Defiant Disorder

Like many behavior disorders, ODD can be caused by biological, social, psychological and environmental factors. This kind of disruptive behavior can run in families, or it can be a result of experiences a child has had. Often times, children who have been raised in chaotic or violent homes have this kind of behavioral disorder. Also, children of alcohol or drug addicts display these symptoms. Either way, it’s important for an adult to help this child seek help, because they can’t do it themselves. ODD is more common in boys than in girls, and can start as early as preschool or usually by the age of eight.

Treatment for Oppositional Defiant Disorder

There are many different treatment options for children and adolescents with ODD. Each child should receive a treatment program tailored to his or her specific needs. For instance, preschool aged children should receive different care than adolescents. Different treatment options include individualized therapy, family therapy, behavioral therapy, parent training programs, cognitive problem-solving therapy, social skills therapy and even anger management. Sometimes medications can help, though it’s important to be careful because there are certain health implications, side effects and risks associated with certain medicines.

What Should You Do?

While finding a therapist may seem like a daunting task, you should not be afraid to seek help. You can start by asking your child’s school counselor for advice or even your regular health care provider. Communicating with others and reaching out for help will only benefit your child and prevent them from developing more serious behavior disorders such as Conduct Disorder. Remember, your child is basically asking you for help by exhibiting such abnormal behaviors. Ask yourself, “What could be the root of the problem?” With love and work, you can find the source and help your child move on to a normal life.

Links and Resources for Further Reading

  • American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry’s page about Oppositional Defiant Disorder has tips for parents coping with their child’s ODD.
  • This Medline Plus webpage has information about symptoms, causes and treatment for ODD.
  • New York University’s Child Study Center has lots of information about children with ODD and what you can do.

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