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What is Oppositional Defiant Disorder?

Updated on May 19, 2016

You've heard obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit hyper activity disorder (ADHD) and many other popular behavioral disorders.

But have you heard of Oppositional Defiant Disorder?


What is Oppositional Defiant Disorder?

ODD is catergorized as a behavior disorder.

ODD is defined as a condition in which a child displays an ongoing pattern of uncooperative, defiant, hostile, and annoying behavior toward people in authority.

The child with ODD often has trouble with normal day to day activities, including but not limited to, activities involving family life and school.

Often children and teens with ODD have other behavioral problems, such as attention deficit disorder, learning disabilities, mood disorders, and /or anxiety disorders.

Some children with ODD go on to develop a more serious behavior disorder known as conduct disorder.

Symptoms of Oppositional Defiant Disorder

  • Throwing repeated temper tantrums
  • Excessively arguing with adults
  • Actively refusing to comply with requests and rules
  • Deliberately trying to annoy or upset others, or being easily annoyed by others
  • Blaming others for your mistakes
  • Having frequent outbursts of anger and resentment
  • Being spiteful and seeking revenge
  • Swearing or using obscene language
  • Saying mean and hateful things when upset
  • Moody
  • Easily frustrated

Meet Megan. Yep, she's cute alright.... it's a defense mechanism.
Meet Megan. Yep, she's cute alright.... it's a defense mechanism.

What this says to me....

I have a three almost four year old daughter. She fits the diagnosing criteria of oppositional defiance disorder to a tee. She's smart mouthed, stubborn, and a troublemaker.

She could be the poster child for ODD.

That is if I would let a Dr. diagnosis her with oppostional defiance disorder. Basically if I felt ODD was something that needed treatment or warranted a special name or diagnosis to call her "different" then her peers I would. However I simply see her as my unruly child; she's just Megan.

Point blank she's just a a little brat. Don't get me wrong I love her with all my heart (she's a mini me to a TEE).

As a matter of fact I'm 100% sure my mother would say "she's just like you were at this age". I guess I am partially responsible for this genetic defect of unruliness.

So did/do I have ODD? Doubtful....however had researches coined a termed for an unruly, bratty, bright child 30 some odd years ago certainly I would be a "suffer".

My daughter is three years old. I do recognize that she has a very stubborn temperament and wants things her way or no way.

Again she's THREE years old.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder

Is ODD a a legitimate diagnosis?

See results

Gateway Disorder?

In my opinion oppositional defiant disorder or ODD is a gateway disorder. In saying this I must admit that I believe ODD is a label given to unruly children by therpists without a complete picture of the child's life.

Should the behaviors that lead to the diagnosis of ODD continue it's most likely that the child was never a sufferer from ODD at all, rather it was another underlying diagnosis; such as conduct disorder, attention deficit disorder or simply their environment.

A child that continuously misbehaves should be seen by a therapist in an attempt to rule out other possibilities of "bad behavior".

It's important to note that children are often unable to articulate their feelings and they act out in an attempt to be heard. It's not unheard of, quite common actually, for a child to experience a bout of bad behavior after a major life event (divorce, new school, moving etc.). These bouts of bad behavior can be as short as days to as long as weeks or months even depending on the individual child's personality and the circumstances surrounding the change in behaviors.

In order to ensure a diagnosis of ODD is in fact a "real" diagnosis environmental factors, school life, and home life should all be taken into consideration.

It's also important to keep in mind the individual child and his or her personality.

It's possible you may just have a unruly child on your hands (like I do).

Keep in mind that some of histroy's "greats" have been unruly and stubborn. You may just have the next Einstein on your hands.

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    • Rfordin profile image
      Author

      Rfordin 4 years ago from Florida

      Hi Rosana/neighbor,

      Glad you found it interesting, this has always been a hard disorder for me to swallow since one of my abnormal psych classes. Simply because where do you "draw" the line between being defiant and being strong willed. Thanks for stopping by..... she is cute isn't she :).

      ~Becky

    • Rosana Modugno profile image

      Rosana Modugno 4 years ago from 10th Kingdom

      This was very interesting. I wasn't even aware of it. I just wrote a hub on ADD, and I thought that pretty much covers all the D labels lol But had no idea of this one. It does sound a lot like Bipolar symptoms to me. There are so many labels out there, I just can't keep up anymore. What ever happened to "Take an aspirin and call me in the morning?" lol

      Well, good luck to you and your little doll. She is adorable. Voted up.

    • Rfordin profile image
      Author

      Rfordin 4 years ago from Florida

      Hi Liz,

      Thanks for stopping by and reading about unruly child :).

      I agree that we as a society are to quick to find a "reason" for behaviors that once were so easily characterized as just that: behaviors.

      Now as a mental health student I must say a ton of diagnoses hold some merit but at the same time I must also admit that I think to little time is spent working with a child or children in an effort to rule out other things that may a contributing factor....or just the simple fact that the kid is a brat. As a "brat" myself I'm sure my child will be alright as she moves through life, she'll get in trouble a bit more, but she'll deifnitly be an independent thinker. The old adage "payback is a b---h" comes to mind. At least I'm not delusional :)

      Again thanks for stopping by!

      ~Becky

    • Radcliff profile image

      Liz Davis 4 years ago from Hudson, FL

      I like how you prefer to see the child as an individual with unique traits and challenges. Our culture wants to label every imperfection and give it a diagnosis, independent of the child (or adult) or the situation. Thanks for the great hub! Very thought-provoking.

    • Rfordin profile image
      Author

      Rfordin 4 years ago from Florida

      Thank you Meloncauli. It's what keeps her "safe" at this age. Yikes.... :)

    • meloncauli profile image

      meloncauli 4 years ago from UK

      Yes and such a beautiful child she is too...butter wouldn't melt ha ha!

    • Rfordin profile image
      Author

      Rfordin 4 years ago from Florida

      Hey meloncauli,

      My daughter (the one pictured), Megan is definitely very advanced for her age. As a matter of fact she's turning 4 next week and she is in a traisitonal class at school (it's of a Pre-k nature).

      I'm TERRFIED that by her being in Pre-k at 3, and then 4 and the FINALLY making her way into kindergarden at age 5 (almost 6) she's going to be soooooooo bored and wreak havoc. Her birthday falls on Sept. 26 so she misses the "school cutoff" by 25 days. Which here in Florida means they hold them back a year.

      My only saving grace will be to have her tested as gifted ASAP in order to avoid her being bored and acting out more than usual. My only concern would be her maturity level and wether it will be "on par" or not.

      Thank you for stopping by, sharing your story and commenting.

      ~Becky

    • Rfordin profile image
      Author

      Rfordin 4 years ago from Florida

      Hey Thundermama,

      When something directly hits your life it's really hard to be objective. ODD MAY or MAY NOT be a "real diagnosis" in the psych community but I still hate the stigma that happens when children are diganosed with ANY mental disorder. I think it allows them to act accordingly and thus leads to more behavioral problems. I appreciate you stopping by and commenting.

      ~Becky

    • Rfordin profile image
      Author

      Rfordin 4 years ago from Florida

      Hey Midget38,

      I'm just curious what grade do you teach? As it stands I lead more to believing this disorder or diagnosis if you will stems from a child with behavioral issues. If the child does in deed have this disorder I'm almost positive the child is on the road to a long mental health history. Thank you for stopping by and commenting!

      ~Becky

    • Rfordin profile image
      Author

      Rfordin 4 years ago from Florida

      Hey Nvamache,

      I agree involved parenting is the best practice. Thanks for stopping by.

      ~Becky

    • meloncauli profile image

      meloncauli 4 years ago from UK

      This is another aspect that is so overlooked Thundermama. The fact that these kids are highly "bored" because they are so bright. They get very frustrated...my son did. My ADHD son was deemed "gifted" but our national school service was rubbish at addressing this. He had a special needs teacher at school that I could call up when there was a problem...I could never get hold of him and had to resort to letter writing! he was supposed to have weekly one on one meetings with this teacher but sometimes several weeks would go by without seeing him.

      Defiance in all children is much more common than you think however and it doesn't matter how good a parent you are often. You may have been brilliant at laying down ground rules within the home, but they spend more of their time at school so you really are between a rock and a hard place often.

      A part of defiance can stem from personality alone and that is particularly hard to deal with but if you watch nanny 911 and similar programmes on tv...defiance is the most major issue in these programmes . The nannies have a very high success rate at diffusing the defiance without the need for medications.

      Any behaviour can be changed without the need for meds or at the least should be the second option when it comes to treatment. Behavioural therapy could help the large majority of kids on meds for behavioural problems. In UK there isn't enough resources for this so meds are a quick cure all here.

    • Thundermama profile image

      Catherine Taylor 4 years ago from Canada

      This was a very interesting hub. I used to think this was a completely made up disorder that they slapped on unruly kids until a young person in my life was diagnosed. There was no question he had a disorder that needed a clinical diagnosis, he wasn't just naughty. At 8 he had an explosive temper language that would make a sailor blush and such little disrespect for the authority he would throw things at them. It wasn't poor parenting, they have a lovely high functioning daughter as well. Long story short this diagnosis helped this child get the help he desperately needed and now he is on the road to recovery. As an aside, he was tested for IQ and he is off the charts bright. Here's hoping your daughter is just unruly and doesn't genuinely have this disorder. Provocative hub.

    • Nyamache profile image

      Joshua Nyamache 4 years ago from Kenya

      Parents should always monitor their children. This will help the parent to notice any behavior that may turn out to be a disorder. However, they should seek professional advice to be sure of the exact disorder the child is having and thereafter try to help and support the child in all ways to overcome the disorder.

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      As a teacher, I know lots of kids with this disorder. teens have it bad, some just defy adults for no reason at all. they just hate anyone who represents authority. This is an important subject I will share.

    • meloncauli profile image

      meloncauli 4 years ago from UK

      Hi Becky,

      Yes she is very bright. I also have an ADHD son who I took off meds some years ago and guess what? He improved, again by me taking hold of the reigns and following good advice.

      Glad to follow you. Take care.

    • Rfordin profile image
      Author

      Rfordin 4 years ago from Florida

      Hey Meloncauli,

      You know I'm willing to bet your daughter is very bright. Often times I've witnessed children (or lived with one) that the child is just smart for their own good. They test their limits to no AVAIL because they simply know they can.

      My other daughter is a poloar opposite. I constantly get remarks on her "good" behavior. It's not an easy balance because I don't want my little one to think "being bad" is her role..... sigh parenthood.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

      ~Becky

    • Rfordin profile image
      Author

      Rfordin 4 years ago from Florida

      Hey Teaches12345,

      Thanks for stopping by to see me and commenting. It always nice to hear from you neighbor.

      ~Becky

    • meloncauli profile image

      meloncauli 4 years ago from UK

      Excellent article! These kind of labels should be exposed for what they are - fancy names for 'difficult behaviour'. Once labelled, the unnecessary medication inevitably follows. Strong willed? I had a child who was strong willed...she still is! I wouldn't change her for the world. As she's got older she has learned how better to behave socially with a lot of help from me and a bit of advice from a counsellor friend.

      She definitely would have been labelled ODD but I am glad she wasn't.

      The DSM has much to answer for!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      A very interesting post and I learned something today. I have seen children demonstrate ODD in classes. The parents are always so frustrated with the behavior and are at wits end to know how to handle the child. As you mentioned, having it professionally diagnosed it a must and then getting the support to help your family is important.

    • Rfordin profile image
      Author

      Rfordin 4 years ago from Florida

      Hey Denise,

      I think ODD as well as ADD/ADHD and Autism to name a few are diagnoses that are seen as "safe" for children. When it comes to the mental health community the idea of diagnosing someone under 18 years old with a mental illness seems to still have a lot of stigma attached to it. So safe or semi-safe diagnoses are key in my opinion. I know to many people/cases where the child is diagnosed with X, to only be later diagnosed with X,Y, and/or Z as they age.

      Separation anxiety disorder is another diagnosis that I would shy away from with young children. Simply because as they start to "grow their own wings" they of course should feel some anxiety. Children until aorund age 2 or 3 are unaware that they are separate entities from their parents. They almost see themselves as an extension to their caregivers body (which they kind of are until about this age). It's no wonder they "fear" separation.

      I went through separation anxiety with both my daughters when it came to starting school (or any other activity/place I "left" them). They were not interested in leaving my side and would BEG me to stay with them.

      Thank you for sharing your personal experience with me. I'm glad counseling has provided your daughter with the right tools both help and heal herself.

      ~Becky

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 4 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      My own daughter was diagnosed emotional disorders at the age of 5 years while in kindergarten. One of them was ODD, the others were Separation Anxiety Disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. She was a very difficult child from birth on, having excessive amounts of fear, to the point that she would do irrational things, one of them being blatant refusal and lack of cooperation. She was able to respond well to the special education setting during elementary school as they used the same techniques we found worked well at home. As a teenager, the diagnoses were changed to social anxiety and eventually aspergers syndrome. She is now 24 years old and seems to have finally "grown out of it" and is able to be medication free, however, she sees counselors and doctors regularly for maintenance.

    • Rfordin profile image
      Author

      Rfordin 4 years ago from Florida

      Hey mperrottet,

      I agree with you 100% it's like once a diagnosis is made the child is labeld and almost has an excuse to behave a certain way. Parents then have the ability to say "Oh well it's because he/she has ______". I know that some children are very definitely diagnosed correctly and the treatment should fit accordingly it's just in my opinion to many kids are diagnosed with something that is temporary (as you stated).

      Thanks for sharing your input here and thanks for stopping by!

      ~Becky

    • mperrottet profile image

      Margaret Perrottet 4 years ago from Pennsauken, NJ

      I think that in general, our children are getting labeled far too often. I think that many of the conditions getting labels are temporary behavioral problems, and that the label doesn't particularly help, and may ultimately hurt the child. Once a label is applied to a child, the parents, the child, and everyone around the child expect the behavior to last forever, since the child now has a "disorder". Perhaps because of that expectation, a behavior which may have been a temporary phase, becomes a permanent personality trait. Just a thought. Interesting hub, voted up!