What Is Oppositional Defiant Disorder?

oppositional defiant disorder

Even the sweetest children in the world go through a stage of defiance at some point in their childhood. This may last a few hours, a few days, or a few weeks, but eventually, it goes away. For some children though, the need to be defiant goes beyond traditional patterns of development. If your child frequently experiences patterns of anger, irritability, violence, defiance, or vindictiveness, he or she may have Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Let’s take a closer look at what this condition is, along with ODD treatments you may need to explore in the future.

Definition: What Is Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)?

Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) is a condition marked by frequent, long-lasting anger, irritability, argumentativeness, vindictiveness, or defiance. This condition often goes unnoticed or misdiagnosed in the beginning stages because it can appear as though the child is simply strong-willed or emotional. If the emotional behavior lasts longer than six months though, there is a high chance that the child has ODD. He or she will need to be assessed by a professional mental health expert in order to determine that for sure.

Symptoms Of ODD

What are the warning signs of ODD? How can I tell if my child has ODD? For the most part, symptoms of ODD will show up during a child’s preschool years, though they could develop later on. Almost every child diagnosed with ODD exhibits symptoms before his or her early teen years. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, published by the American Psychiatric Association, outlines a series of behaviors that a child must exhibit in order to be diagnosed with ODD. The child must have at least four symptoms from the list below to meet the criteria:

  • Touchy Or Easily Annoyed By Other People
  • Resentful And Angry
  • Loses Tempter Regularly
  • Argues With People Of Authority (Parents, Teachers, Grandparents, Etc.)
  • Refuses To Comply With Rules Or Requests From Adults
  • Annoys Other People On Purpose
  • Acts Spiteful Or Vindictive
  • Blames Others For His/Her Behaviors Or Mistakes
  • Has Exemplified Vindictive Behavior At Least Twice Within The Last 6 Months

Any child may go through these various symptoms at some point in time, but a child with ODD will experience them more frequently than his or her peers. The frequency will depend on the child’s age, which will play a factor in the diagnosis.

Getting Diagnosed With Oppositional Defiant Disorder

As we mentioned above, ODD typically appears in young children under the age of 5. The symptoms may vary in severity from mild (only occurring in one place, like school) to severe (occurring in 3 or more settings). If you have noticed persistent symptoms like the ones mentioned above, you should speak to a child counselor about getting a professional diagnosis. This is a service we provide here at Perspectives Of Troy Counseling Centers in Troy, Michigan, as well as ODD therapy and other treatment options.

During the diagnosis, the counselor will ask you about your child’s behavior – what problems you have encountered, how frequently they occur, etc. If you have notes from your child’s school about him or her acting out, you may bring those as well to show the counselor. This information, combined with an interview and sometime interacting with your child, will allow the child behavioral expert to determine if he or she indeed has ODD.

What Causes ODD?

At this time, there are definitive, known causes of ODD. We often explain to our patients that the child’s behavior may stem from genetics or environmental influences. With that in mind, we have worked with children from all walks of life who have developed oppositional defiant disorder – regardless of their upbringing.

The big takeaway here is that you as a parent should not blame yourself for your child’s ODD. While it is important for you to follow-through with treatment and get him or her the best care possible, your child most likely would have developed this condition no matter what. It doesn’t mean that you have done anything wrong. It just means that you have to make adjustments in your parenting moving forward so your child can get better.

What To Expect With Oppositional Defiant Disorder

If your child is diagnosed with ODD, chances are you have already gone through struggles with anger, vindictiveness, defiance, etc. This is a complex condition that comes with waves of emotions. Your child may go from being irate to seeking forgiveness in a short period of time. Prepare for tension within your family, both between you and your child and between your child and your other children. Dealing with ODD is not always easy, but it is something you can get through with patience and love.

If you are a person who struggles with anger and rage, you may seek anger management counseling to help you control your emotions around your child. A child with ODD will not see his actions as something to correct. Rather, he will see your demands as overbearing (hence the defiance). You must be able to control your emotions at all times in order to provide the best parenting possible for your child.

Treating Oppositional Defiant Disorder

Check out our next blog post to learn about treatments for oppositional defiant disorder.