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Oppositional Defiant Disorder- Know What It Is Exactly!

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An oppositional defiant disorder is a behavioral disorder in children which makes them rebellious and disobedient. Read the below article to know more.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Veerabhadrudu Kuncham

Published At October 14, 2022
Reviewed AtOctober 14, 2022


Nobody likes it when a kid is rebellious; still, little importance is given to understanding the cause of the child's annoying behavior. A rebellious, disobedient kid who unnecessarily pulls stunts could suffer from an oppositional defiant disorder. Parents are usually clueless about the reason for the misbehavior and even punish them for it, which aggravates the condition further. Some kids stay rebellious even through their adolescence.

What Is Oppositional Defiant Disorder?

A condition in which children show continuous negative behavioral alterations, such as being uncooperative, angry, cranky, disobedient, etc., is called an oppositional defiant disorder. These tantrums usually develop when the child starts preschool and continue for a longer term. This behavioral alteration usually affects the child's personal relationships and performances at school, which disrupts their childhood. Sometimes, this behavior is directed only at a particular person or peeks out at a specific environment. These kids show increased chances of depression, drug addiction, and anger issues as adolescents.

What Are the Causes of Oppositional Defiant Disorder?

Nothing specific can be framed as the cause of oppositional defiant disorder. It might be due to certain biological, environmental, genetic factors, or a combination of these.

  • Research shows that oppositional defiant disorder can result from injuries or inborn damages to specific brain cells or neurotransmitters (cells used by the nervous system to transmit messages between neurons.

  • Genetics plays a significant role in the cause of this disorder. Children whose parents have mental illnesses, anxiety disorders, anger issues, etc., are prone to inherit oppositional defiant disorder.

  • Environmental influences such as parents sharing an unhealthy relationship, exposure to constant fights at home, lack of discipline by the parents, physical or emotional abuse, abusive parenting, etc., can cause this disorder.

  • When they see someone else experiencing love, children who yearn for love and affection react in an abusive way.

  • Some kids throw such tantrums in the hope of seeking attention. Such instances occur in children who lack parental care and attention.

What Are the Risk Factors for Developing Oppositional Defiant Disorder?

Children exposed to the following situations are at a higher risk of developing oppositional defiant disorder;

  • A history of child abuse or neglect.
  • A parent or caregiver with a mood disorder or substance and alcohol use disorder.
  • Exposure to violence.
  • Inconsistent discipline and lack of adult supervision.
  • Instability in the child's family, such as divorce, moving to different houses often, and changing schools frequently.
  • Financial issues in the family.
  • Parents who have or have had ODD, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or behavioral problems.

What Are the Symptoms of Oppositional Defiant Disorder?

The onset of these symptoms occurs as the kid enters preschool. The most common signs that a child with oppositional defiant disorder presents include;

  • Disrespectful behavior.

  • Constant anger.

  • Getting annoyed easily.

  • Talking back to people in higher authority, including parents, teachers, caregivers, etc.

  • Arguing frequently.

  • Exerting certain behaviors that irritate others easily, like questioning everything the other person says, constant disagreement, etc.

  • Constant blaming and resentful behavior.

  • Refusing requests abruptly.

  • Not giving a thought before hurting others verbally or physically.

  • Sudden emotional outbursts.

  • Poor performance in academics.

  • Isolating themselves from the crowd, sometimes even from the family members.

When these symptoms follow the children to adolescence, they find difficulty maintaining friendships, relationships, jobs, etc. They lash out at others without a second thought when frustrated.

How to Rule Out Oppositional Defiant Disorder?

  • The diagnosis of oppositional defiant disorder is symptom-oriented. When questioned about the behavior, the child is likely to blame others and provide irrelevant reasons to justify the act.

  • Parents should keep track of the symptoms and the factors triggering the kid to behave defiantly. When the symptoms are frequent and occur for a more extended period, parents should take them to a pediatrician or a psychiatrist for professional help.

  • Although there is no specific test to rule out this condition, blood tests are performed to rule out any underlying diseases that could be a trigger.

  • When there is no underlying health trigger for this condition, lack of stability in mental health is considered. Psychiatrists record a detailed history by various assessment tools and diagnose the condition.

Psychiatrists classify the severity of oppositional defiant disorder based on the incidence of symptoms;

  • Mild symptoms happen in any one of the settings like home, with friends or a particular person, school, etc.

  • Moderate symptoms involve a minimum of two settings.

  • The symptoms are considered severe when they involve three or more settings.

How Is Oppositional Defiant Disorder Treated?

The treatment of an oppositional defiant disorder is completely non-pharmacological and involves behavioral shaping as the primary mode. Behavior alterations involve the effort of the caregivers and parents despite giving therapy.

Parents should follow at-home management methods initially, which include;

  • Complimenting them for the positive things they do.

  • Engaging them in activities they enjoy.

  • Spending quality time with the child.

  • Patience is seeing results, as the possibility of seeing a change overnight is nil.

  • Refraining from comparison with other children of the same age.

Psychiatrists usually recommend therapy sessions to the child and the parents.

  • Psychotherapy improves the child's problem handling and solving skills, anger management, and response to an external trigger.

  • Parent management therapy guides the parents if they contribute a reason to the child's behavior and teaches them to handle the child in a friendly and peaceful way.

  • There is no specific medication to treat oppositional defiant disorder; in some instances, medications are given to minimize the intensity of the symptoms.

What Are the Complications Associated With Oppositional Defiant Disorder?

Children suffering from the oppositional defiant disorder have higher chances of suffering from depression, anxiety, conduct disorder (antisocial behavior), attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (difficulty sustaining attention, hyperactivity, and impulsive behavior), learning disorders, etc. Some may also develop addictions to drugs.

Is It Possible to Prevent Oppositional Defiant Disorder?

Unfortunately, it is impossible to prevent or cure this disorder entirely. Identifying the disease at the initial stage offers better results in regulating the symptoms. The occurrence rate and symptom intensity are minimized by providing the child with proper care and support.


Although a perfect treatment does not exist for an oppositional defiant disorder, its symptoms can be narrowed down and kept in check by identifying it early. Often the rebellious and disobedient kids are punished rather than being understood and helped overcome such behaviors. If your child shows similar symptoms, I hope you know what to do now as a parent.

Frequently Asked Questions


What Are the Behaviors Associated With ODD?

Oppositional Defiant Disorder behavior involves:
- Constantly debates with grown-ups or individuals in authority.
- Frequently energetically disobeys or refuses to comply with adults' advice or regulations.
- Usually purposefully irritates or annoys people.
- Constantly accuses others of their blunders or misconduct.


What Are The Main Types of Manifestations of ODD?

The main manifestations of oppositional defiant disorder can be classified into three categories. Symptoms are more noticeable at school or home. These involve 
- Anger, outrage, and crankiness. 
- Argumentative and defiant behavior. 
- Vindictiveness.


What Are the Consequence Of Oppositional Defiant Disorder?

If the ODD is not treated or controlled promptly, it can advance to conduct disorder, which could change into an antisocial personality disease. Disruptive behavior conditions are psychiatric disorders distinguished by important behavior impairments.


Can Oppositional Defiant Disorder Be Treated?

Management for oppositional defiant disorder mainly includes family-based interventions, but it may possess additional kinds of psychotherapy and training for both the child and parents. The duration of treatment usually lasts several months or more extended.


Does Trauma Cause ODD?

Certain characteristics which involve a messy home life, unpredictable domain by the parents, and being revealed to abuse, negligence, or any kind of trauma that occurs at an earlier age can all direct to the commencement of ODD manifestations.


How Can We Discipline an ODD Child?

Certain discipline rules are mentioned below, they are:
- Treat before punishment.
- Exercise away hatred.
- Understanding the child pattern.
- Rules and their aftereffects should be made clear.
- Using certain ‘codewords.’
- Staying positive.


Can ODD Be Overcome?

Certain kids outgrow ODD or appropriate treatment for ODD, while others resume having manifestations through adultness. Around half of all preschoolers analyzed with ODD outgrow the trouble by the age of eight. Elder children with ODD are likely to outgrow it. The oppositional defiant condition may continue into adulthood.


Does ODD Advance in Families?

Genetic characteristics: certain investigation recommends that genetics account for around 50 percent of the formation of ODD. Numerous kids and teens with ODD have immediate family associated with mental health disorders involving mood illnesses, anxiety diseases, and personality disturbances.


What Medication Is Used in ODD?

Medicines alone typically are not utilized for ODD unless the child also has any additional mental health illness. If the child has coexisting diseases, such as ADHD, anxiety, or depression, medicines might support improving these manifestations. The cornerstones of therapy for ODD usually possess parental training.


How Can We Interact With Someone With Odd?

ODD professionals discover the subsequent process useful for parents. It is:
Ask the child with ODD calmly to do something. If the child does not react back within two minutes, gently tell them again and inform the consequences too.


How is ODD Diagnosed?

A child psychiatrist or a mental health professional typically diagnoses ODD in kids and adolescents. A thorough history of the child's manners from parents and teachers, clinical observances of the child's manners, and, occasionally, psychological testing help in the diagnosis.


What Are the Manifestations of Odd in Girls?

ODD manifestation may be seen as diverse in girls and boys, for whom the illness is more common. Boys with ODD will be more physically assertive and have fierce anger, while girls often lie, deny to collaborate, and express manifestation in other indirect ways.


Is Oppositional Defiant Disorder Related to Autism?

A considerable percentage of kids with autism spectrum disorder display the manifestation of DSM-IV-defined oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), which is described as a practice of aggressive and rebellious behavior directed toward grown-ups.


Which Behavior Is Noticeable by the Nurse in a Child With Oppositional Defiant Disorder?

Kids with ODD generally have a continuous routine of cranky, furious bursts, arguments, and rebelliousness. While authority figures like parents and teachers typically execute these manners, it can also target siblings, classmates, and additionally other children.
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Dr. Veerabhadrudu Kuncham
Dr. Veerabhadrudu Kuncham



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