Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) is usually described as a pattern of behaviour that includes angry or irritable mood, argumentative or defiant behaviour or vindictiveness. These characteristics are present over a six month period and the behaviour is exhibited with at least one individual who is not a sibling.
How can I tell the difference between normal behaviour and ODD?
It is important to note that some behaviour (including anger, tantrums, arguments and defiance) can be a normal part of a child’s development.
In order to be identified as having Oppositional Defiant Disorder, the individual will exhibit at least four of the following behaviours over a 6 month period (DSM V, 2013):
Angry / Irritable Mood
- The child often loses their temper.
- Often touchy or easily annoyed.
- Often angry or resentful.
Argumentative / Defiant Behaviour
- Often argues with authority figures (in the case of children, this may be with adults).
- Often actively defies or refuses to comply with requests or rules from authority figures.
- Often deliberately annoys others.
- Often blames others for his/ her mistakes or misbehaviour.
- Has been spiteful or vindictive at least twice within the past 6 months.
What ages are affected by ODD?
Age plays an important role in the identification of Oppositional Defiant Disorder, and this is mainly because as individuals get older they generally are better able to regulate their mood and responses to stress and anxiety.
For diagnosis to be made in children younger than 5 years, the behaviour listed above should be present on most days for a period of 6 months, whereas for individuals 5 years and older the behaviour should be present a least once per week over a 6 month period.
Why do some kids develop ODD?
The behaviour associated with Oppositional Defiant Disorder is usually a response to distress in the individual’s (or others’) immediate social environment (eg family, peer group, work colleagues). The distress experienced by the individual is usually expressed as a pattern of problematic behaviour, which the individual may interpret as a response to unreasonable demands or circumstances.
Some risk factors have been noted (DSM V), including:
- Temperamental: Difficulties with emotion regulation, such as, high levels of emotional reactivity or poor frustration tolerance have been identified as predictive factors for ODD.
- Environmental: Harsh, inconsistent or neglectful living environments are common amongst children and adolescents living with ODD.
Individuals living with ODD experience frequent conflict with parents, teachers, and later in life, employers and romantic partners. The persistence of this conflict may lead to significant impairment with the individual’s emotional, social, academic and occupational interactions.
Treatment for ODD
A psychologist can tailor a treatment program for your child and family, drawing on a range of evidence based therapeutic approaches. At Vision Psychology, we have psychologists such as Alexandra Ellerman experienced in helping children and parents to better manage the symptoms of ODD. Treatment focuses on identifying and building on the child’s strengths and positive behaviours, to allow them to experience the attention and connection that flows from being kind, helpful and loving to family and friends.
If you are concerned about your child, why not book them in for a free Emotional Health Check up with one of our team. This 30 minute consultation is designed to help assess your needs and whether counselling/therapy would be of benefit, and to advise of any relevant Medicare or health fund rebates.
To make an appointment try Online Booking. Alternatively, you can call Vision Psychology Brisbane on (07) 3088 5422.
American Psychiatric Association (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Fifth ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing. pp. 462-466.