Use the form below to search the Health Library.

 Health Information  Health Articles  Any

Oppositional Defiant Disorder

  • Definition

    Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) is a behavior disorder in children and teens. Those with this disorder show negative, angry, and defiant behaviors much more often than most people of the same age. These behaviors begin to adversely affect the person’s relationships and ability to perform successfully in school, work, and family situations.
  • Causes

    The cause of ODD is unknown. Like other psychiatric disorders, ODD results from a combination of genetic, family, and social factors. Children with ODD may inherit chemical imbalances in the brain that make them more likely to have the disorder.
    Child's Brain
    Child Brain
    A chemical imbalance in the brain may be responsible for ODD.
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
  • Risk Factors

    ODD is more common in males. Other factors that may increase your child's risk for ODD include:
    • A parent with a mood, conduct, attention deficit, or substance abuse disorder
    • Marital conflict
    • Child abuse
    • Inconsistent parental attention
    • Low socioeconomic status
  • Symptoms

    Symptoms usually begin around age 8 and increase over several months.
    Children with ODD often:
    • Argue with adults
    • Lose their tempers
    • Refuse to follow adults' requests or rules
    • Deliberately annoy others and are annoyed by others
    • Are angry and resentful
    • Are spiteful or vindictive
    • Blame others for their own mistakes
    • Have low self-esteem
  • Diagnosis

    The doctor will ask about symptoms, medical history, and family history. A physical exam will be done. The doctor will also look for other conduct disorders.
    Diagnosis of ODD is based on these criteria:
    • Child displays at least 4 common symptoms.
    • Symptoms occur more often and have more serious consequences than is typical in children of a similar age.
    • Symptoms lead to significant problems in school, work, or social life.
    • Symptoms are continuously present for at least 6 months.
  • Treatment

    Treatment may include the following:
    Parent Training
    Training is designed to help parents manage their child's behavior.
    Child Psychotherapy
    The purpose of the psychotherapy is to teach the child better ways to manage anger.
    Family Psychotherapy
    Family therapy helps to improve family communication skills.
    Cognitive-Behavior Therapy
    This type of therapy helps the child and family members learn problem-solving skills and decrease negativity.
    Social Skills Training
    This is training to help the child reduce frustration with peers.
  • Prevention

    There are no current guidelines to prevent ODD.

    American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

    American Psychiatric Association


    Canadian Psychiatric Association

    Canadian Psychological Association


    Children with oppositional defiant disorder. American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry website. Available at: Accessed July 17, 2013.

    Oppositional defiant disorder in children. Boston Children's Hospital website. Available at: Accessed July 17, 2013.

    Oppositional defiant disorder. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated December 7, 2012. Accessed July 17, 2013.

    Revision Information

  • Connect with Steward

    Visit Our Twitter Feed Visit Our Facebook Page Email This Page Print This Page

    Subscribe to our patient e-newsletter

    Copyright © 2016 Steward Health Care
    Connect Healthcare Panacea CMS Solutions