family life

Is your child ODD?

Oppositional defiance disorder or ODD is a behavioral disorder in children and teens. ODD is characterized by persistent patterns of disruptive, argumentative, unruly and hostile behavior towards parents and authority figures. Typically, this behavior starts around 8 years of age. About 20% of school age children are effected by ODD. It is more common in boys. One third of children with ODD also have Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Symptoms of ODD include:

  • Frequent temper tantrums
  • Excessive arguing with adults, especially those with authority
  • Refusing to follow rules with no fear of consequences
  • Deliberately trying to annoy or upset others
  • Blaming others for their mistakes
  • Frequently having an angry attitude
  • Easily annoyed by others
  • Swearing or using obscene language
  • Frequent outbursts of anger and resentment
  • Seeking revenge or being vindictive

The symptoms are usually seen in many settings but are more noticeable at home and school. It may be hard for parents to realize their child has ODD. Parents often think the child is “acting out” or “being difficult.” In children with ODD the behavior parents refer to as “being difficult” occurs more often and is extreme. This disorder is usually diagnosed by a psychiatrist or mental health professional. It is important to have a comprehensive evaluation to look for other disorders. Children with ODD often have other disorders such as, ADHD, learning disabilities, mood disorders, depression and anxiety disorders. ODD may not improve until other coexisting disorders are treated.

Medications may be helpful in controlling some of the more distressing symptoms. Parent management and training programs can also help parents and others manage the child’s behavior. Psychotherapy to develop anger management is very effective.

Parents and caregivers often struggle with how to handle this type of behavior. Parents need support and understanding. There are many methods parents can use to help their child such as:

  • Always build on the positive
  • Give praise and positive reinforcement
  • Take a timeout when conflict is about to arise
  • Pick your battles
  • Set up reasonable limits with consequences and enforce frequently
  • Try to get suport from other adults (teachers, coaches, spouse) to help deal with your child

The cause of ODD is unknown. However, other factors may contribute to the condition:

  • Family members with mental illnesses such as, mood disorders, anxiety disorders, and personality disorders
  • Dysfunctional family life
  • Child abuse or neglect
  • Inconsistent parental attention and discipline

Children with ODD often do well with early treatment. Many children are free of behavioral problems after 3 years of treatment. Some children may outgrow ODD by early adulthood. But that is not always the case. For this reason treatment is crucial to avoid long-term consequences.


25 thoughts on “Is your child ODD?”

  1. Mine had ODD caused by ADHD – in kindergarten. It was a rough year lol. I can laugh now that he’s 12 and we’ve gotten through the diagnosis and treatment – and yes, absolutely it cannot be treated alone with medication. It took a lot of patience and tears (on my part) and time. But it is doable! I have a very well behaved child now, and it pays to do your research and actually parent, not just medicate. Nice job on this! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. My child was diagnosed at 6. Even though we knew earlier, they wouldn’t start treatment until he was 6. He has ADHD as well. The past 7 years we have done therapies and medications. I have to say, now he is much better. He is not cured but definitely much better than when we started.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I believe that too. With my son he does s few set things that he absolutely loves. Fishing is one of the most important ones to him. Taking him fishing got the day helps him to be more relaxed. His mind is at ease for a while and this also gives the adult time to talk to him. To try to understand him. Talking to my son and explaining the “why” when discussing things he cannot do is much more effective than telling. People don’t always understand. Children with these type illnesses are brilliant. But because the are so brilliant they usually don’t have very good social skills (making friends, playing well with others, etc). A therapist once told me the Intellectual side of the brain over developed which caused the focal side to be extremely under developed. So we have to help with that. Often that can explain some of the behaviors. The combination of medication and therapy has helped my son tremendously.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. CE., it sounds like you and your son have come a long way! You have no doubt earned a lot of wisdom through it all. Thank you for sharing your experience with others.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. For a while I thought my Grandson was ODD. He argued about everything! Trivial things. His mom and dad did that a lot too. His three cousins he grew up with I would also say were ODD. All three are in juvenile police facilities. I thank my stars that now, at 14 he seems exactly like any other teenager. He never received treatment. I think since he lived with us until he was 12 we had some sort of influence. There were times though where I despaired. Other times I didn’t like him at all. It seems harder to raise kids today. I send out hugs to all the families who deal with this. You’ll get through it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. We seem to be living in an ODD generation – even ODDer than mine, if that’s possible. Thanks for the warning. I think two of my children may have been ODD ADD’s. They were too young at the time to be fully diagnosed!

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  5. When my son was young, about 5 years old, he displayed activity that resembled all the characteristics you describe here. I told the doctor I would try anything before medication! He recommended the Feingold Diet for what they now call ADHD. I followed it to the letter. It said I should see results within 2 weeks, but after one week, everyone who knew us swore I had given him tranquilizer pills. He had become his usual well-behaved, polite, yet active child!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My son at that age would go from normal to rage like flipping a light switch and you never knew when he was going to flip. It was way more intense than a toddler tantrum. I know that is one of the huge signs. I don’t if things have changed now, but when he was that age they wouldn’t put him on any meds until he was 6.

      Liked by 1 person

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