Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) is described in the DSM-5, as “a pattern of angry/irritable mood, argumentative/defiant behaviour, or vindictiveness lasting at least six months’’.
It can be observed in very young children (younger than 5 years old), as well as school age children and teenagers. The pattern of angry behaviour has to be frequent and persistent, in order to be distinguished from what could generally be seen as normal tantrums or temper outbursts.
Signs of ODD can sometimes be difficult to differentiate from those of a strong willed child. Tantrums are common after all, and part of the normal development of a preschool aged child. In order to be considered a symptom of ODD, tantrums would have to occur on most days for a period of six months (1).
The severity of the condition can be mild, moderate or severe, and therefore can have varying impacts on the child/young person’s life. Children can experience academic problems, low self-esteem, and act aggressively towards classmates.
Symptoms of Oppositional Defiant Disorder
Children with ODD typically display the following behaviours:
- Arguing with adults or authority figures;
- Arguing with other children;
- Losing temper;
- Being defiant;
- Refusing to comply with rules;
- Blaming others;
- Being often touchy or easily annoyed;
- Being often angry and resentful;
These signs and symptoms generally start before the child turns eight years old.
What Causes Oppositional Defiant Disorder
Although there is no clear known cause of ODD, most researchers assume that ODD occurs due to a combination of factors (inherited or environmental) such as:
- Brain dysfunction and biochemical imbalance;
- History of ADHD (Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder), ODD or CD (Conduct Disorder) in the family;
- Family issues (separation or divorce of parents, multiple moves or changes in life).
Treatment of Oppositional Defiant Disorder will usually involve working with the parents and also with the child, when appropriate. It is paramount for the parents to develop effective ways to respond to the child’s behaviour, as well as for the child to learn different communication and conflict resolution skills.
If your child has been diagnosed with Oppositional Defiant Disorder, please feel free to make an appointment with me in order to discuss your concerns.
Meggy Delaunay is a psychologist who mostly works with children, adolescents and young adults. She is a registered Psychologist in Australia, New Zealand and France, and can provide therapy sessions in English and French.
Please call 1800 877 924 to make an appointment or book Meggy Delaunay online now!
- American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.