What is oppositional defiant disorder (ODD)?

Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) is a condition affecting children where they become combative, defiant, or angry. Children defy authority at different stages of growth. The behavior manifests through disobedience, arguments, and answering adults back. However, if such behavior exceeds six months, it may point at ODD.

Below eight years, boys have a higher ODD prevalence than girls, but chances are equal for both sexes by the age of eight. ODD affects around 2%-16% of teens and children. Anxiety, mood, and attention deficit disorders are other problems affecting children with ODD. 

ODD victims exhibit low self-esteem and become moody.

Here are the main symptoms:

  • Arguing excessively

  • Use of obscene language

  • Repeated tantrums

  • Frequent anger outbursts

  • Refusal to obey requests from adults

  • Making mistakes and shifting blame

  • Being vengeful

While diagnosing ODD, a doctor conducts a physical exam followed by a medical history evaluation. Even though lab tests cannot interpret the condition, doctors may recommend blood tests or neuroimaging upon suspicion of medical reasons. 

Failure by brain chemicals to work correctly may cause ODD. Brain injury among children is also to blame. A child born into a family with a history of mental illness is at risk. Dysfunctional families also contribute to children developing behavior disorders.

Parent quiz: Child mental health checklist

This 3-minute, online quiz can be used if you think your child is having emotional, attentional, or behavioral difficulties.

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