Oppositional defiant (say: ah-puh-zish-uh-null dee-fie-ant) disorder, or ODD, is a behavior condition that affects children and teens. Those who have it are angry, argumentative and defiant much more often than others in their age group. The behaviors associated with ODD have a negative effect on the child's or teen's relationships and ability to do well in school and at home.
Every child or teen gets angry, throws tantrums and argues. But it can be hard to tell if a child or teen is just acting out, or if he or she has ODD. The symptoms of ODD are disruptive to home and family life, are almost constant and often last for at least 6 months. Symptoms of ODD may include:
Doctors don’t know the exact cause of ODD. It may result from a combination of factors. The child's general attitude and how the family reacts to his or her behavior may play a role in it. ODD may run in families. Other causes may be related to the nervous system or to brain chemicals that are out of balance.
A child is more likely to develop ODD if he or she has the following risk factors:
Your doctor will ask about your child's symptoms, medical history, family history and other emotional or behavioral problems. Your doctor may want to refer your child to a doctor specializing in problem behavior for a more in-depth evaluation.
There are several treatment options for ODD. Some focus only on the child, while other treatments include the child's family and school.
Your doctor will probably work with another doctor who specializes in mental health or a psychologist to treat your child. Treatment will focus on helping your child learn better ways to manage his or her anger. It will also help your child learn how to handle social situations so he or she will feel less frustrated with other people.
Treatment can also help families learn to communicate better with each other. And your doctor can help you learn how to manage your child's behavior and how to use discipline effectively.
In a treatment called cognitive behavior therapy, children and their families learn problem-solving skills and how to feel more positive.
The following can help encourage good behavior:
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff