Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)

Oppositional Defiant Disorder

What Is It?

Oppositional Defiant Disorder, or ODD, is defined by the DSM-5 as a pattern of angry or irritable mood, argumentative or defiant behavior, or vindictiveness lasting at least six months as evidenced by at least four of its known symptoms that are observed during interactions with at least one individual who is not a sibling.

It’s a type of behavior disorder typically diagnosed in children and adolescents. Biological, psychological, and social factors play a role in the disorder.

Children with mood or anxiety disorders, conduct disorder, or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are more likely to have ODD. One study found that at least 50% of participants with ODD also had anxiety or depression.

Early treatment is important in deterring future occurrences. Many children with ODD respond well to positive parenting techniques.

What are the symptoms?

Typical symptoms of Oppositional Defiant Disorder include:

  • Angry or irritable mood
  • Frequent temper tantrums
  • Is often touchy or easily annoyed
  • Is often angry and resentful
  • Argumentative or defiant behavior
  • Often argues with authority figures or, for children and adolescents, with adults
  • Often actively defies or refuses to comply with requests from authority figures or with rules
  • Often deliberately annoys others
  • Often blames others for his or her mistakes or misbehavior
  • Vindictiveness
  • Has been spiteful or vindictive at least twice within the past 6 months


Mild cases are characterized by symptoms that are confined to only one setting (e.g., at home, at school, at work, with peers). In moderate cases, some symptoms are present in at least two settings. Children or adolescents who experience symptoms in three or more settings are likely living with a severe case of Oppositional Defiant Disorder.

What can I do to help my child?

Research indicates that some children develop the behavioral symptoms of Oppositional Defiant Disorder as a way to manage anxiety or uncertainty.

ODD, anxiety disorders, and mood disorders all occur in similar situations, and they are often a result of uncertainty and unstable environments, whether it is at home or at school. These similarities also typically make it more plausible that they will occur concurrently.

The American Academy Of Child And Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) says parents or guardians can help their children in the following ways:

  • Give praise and positive reinforcement
  • Take a time-out or break if you feel you may make the conflict with your child worse. This is good modeling for your child.
  • Pick your battles. Since the child with ODD has trouble avoiding power struggles, prioritize the things you want your child to do.
  • Set reasonable, age-appropriate limits with consequences
  • Try to work with and obtain support from the other adults in your child’s life. This can include your spouse, family members, teachers, coaches, etc…
  • If you believe your child may be living with ODD, seek out a professional diagnosis, as other factors or disorders may be present.


Where can I get more information?

has a wealth of information about Oppositional Defiant Disorder on their website. has a great article on 8 Discipline Rules for Oppositional Defiant Disorder.


The American Academy Of Child And Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP)

Very Well Mind


Stanford Children’s Health

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