Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) is described as a child demonstrating angry and irritable moods, argumentative and defiant behaviour, or vindictiveness.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM 5), these behaviours must be exhibited over a six month period – with at least one individual that is not a sibling – in order for a diagnosis to be considered.
Symptoms of Oppositional Defiant Disorder
Anger and Irritable moods
- Often loses their temper;
- Is often touchy or easily annoyed;
- Is often angry and resentful.
Argumentative and Defiant Behaviours
An individual with Oppositional and Defiant Disorder will:
- Often argue with authority figures or with adults (if a child or adolescent);
- Actively defy or refuse to comply with rules or requests from adults/authority figures;
- Deliberately annoy others;
- Blame others for his or her mistakes or behaviours.
Oppositional Defiant Disorder also manifests as spiteful or vindictive behaviour (at least twice within the past six months).
These behaviours can be seen in children of all ages as well as adolescents and adults. The persistence and frequency of these behaviours is important so the psychologist can distinguish between a tantrum, outburst or Oppositional Defiant Disorder.
For children younger than five years of age, the behaviour is occurring on most days for a period of six months; for children older than five years, the behaviour should occur at least once per week; before a diagnosis of Oppositional Defiant Disorder is considered.
Treatment for Oppositional Defiant Disorder
Treatment for ODD focuses on reducing the symptoms and not “curing” the disorder. Psychological options include:
- Behavioural therapy to help manage the behavioural symptoms. Sessions will involve developing ways to communicate differently and resolve conflict;
- Family therapy to help relationships, and ensure a consistent parenting method is established. Additionally, to help parents to develop effective ways to respond to the child’s behaviours.
Author: Meggy Delaunay, PG Dip Psych Practice, PG Dip Dev Psych, M Genetic Psych, B Psych, MAPS.
Meggy Delaunay is a psychologist who primarily 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.
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