What Is Oppositional Defiant Disorder And Could My Child Have It?

Many individuals are unaware of precisely what oppositional defiant disorder, commonly referred to as ODD, means. When most parents have kids, they expect them to have moments of defiance in the heat of the moment. Tired, sick, or hungry children may not always be aware of how to correctly and appropriately show their emotions.

Oppositional defiant disorder is more than this. It is characterized by persistent and regular defiance, vindictiveness, irritability, et cetera. It can be a scary diagnosis for both for the parents as well as the child, but it does not have to be. Continue reading for everything you need to know about this condition, including its symptoms, potential causes and risk factors, how it is diagnosed, available treatment options, and complications.

Causes Of ODD

Medical professionals have not yet found a clear cause of oppositional defiant disorder in children. However, evidence indicates genetics and environmental factors do contribute to the likelihood of this condition. A child born with specific neurobiological factors causing the brain and other nerves to function differently may have a higher risk of ODD. A child's environment is another major factor, as children who live in hostile environments, environments with inconsistent discipline, or those without much supervision are more susceptible to this disorder. Other familial issues that increase the risk of oppositional defiant disorder include if one or both parents have a mental illness themselves or if they abuse substances.

Continue reading to discover the symptoms of ODD and when they appear.

When Symptoms Of ODD Appear

The symptoms of oppositional defiant disorder discussed in the following slides tend to start appearing at a young age, such as when a child is in preschool. In some cases, symptoms of ODD develop later, but they almost always appear before an individual's early teen years.

It is important to note a child exhibiting some defiance at certain stages during their development is entirely normal. Unfortunately, this can make it difficult to determine if the child is simply strong-willed or particularly sensitive or if they truly have oppositional defiant disorder. However, those acting out who might have ODD are doing so with increasing frequency and in a manner exceptionally inappropriate compared to what medical professionals consider normal for the age and mental capabilities of the child in question.

Continue reading for information on the symptoms of ODD in the various categories.

Angry And Irritable Mood Symptoms

Children who have operation defiant disorder go from calm and rational to out of control with rage and anger in a matter of seconds. They also get easily annoyed by others and appear to have no patience with anyone else. Children with ODD are also commonly filled with anger and resentful behavior for no apparent reason. It is also important to note they also experience these symptoms quite frequently. For instance, occasionally losing their temper or being in an irritable mood does not indicate the child has oppositional defiant disorder.

Continue reading for ODD symptoms falling under the vindictive category.

Vindictive Symptoms

A vindictive child has no respect for authority, the feelings of others, or even self-respect. They don't make friends easily and are often labeled problematic at school and by other caregivers, children, and parents who have no medical background. They are frequently spiteful and tend not to exhibit signs of remorse for their behavior. The medical requirement for these symptoms to indicate oppositional defiant disorder is the child in question must perform a minimum of two vindictive acts in a timespan of six months, though most patients will perform far more than that in a shorter period.

Continue reading for the argumentative and defiant behavior symptoms of ODD.

Argumentative And Defiant Behavior Symptoms

A child who pushes the boundaries with authority figures once or twice is not a child with oppositional defiant disorder. Children who may have ODD are those who actively refuse to follow the rules, listen to any adult or authority figure, or do what's expected of them, all on a frequent basis. They are also children who look for ways to deliberately misbehave or anger others and take pleasure in annoying others. They also take no responsibility for their actions, and instead, often have a reason why their behavior is someone else's fault.

Uncover the details on the full criteria for a diagnosis of oppositional defiant disorder now.

Criteria For An ODD Diagnosis

A medical professional cannot diagnose a child with oppositional defiant disorder without first proving a child has a pattern of behavior meeting the specific requirements set out in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). The first requirement for an accurate diagnosis is the patient must exhibit a minimum of four symptoms from one of the three categories of symptoms. As discussed, these are angry and irritable mood; argumentative and defiant behavior; and vindictiveness. Other DSM-5 requirements include: the symptoms must occur with at least one person not a sibling to the patient; cause issues at home, school, or work; occur on their own rather than as part of another mental illness such as bipolar disorder; and last for a minimum of six months before diagnosis.

Continue reading for more information on obtaining an accurate ODD diagnosis in children.

Diagnosing ODD In Children

A child must see a licensed mental health provider to receive an accurate oppositional defiant disorder diagnosis. This includes undergoing a comprehensive psychological evaluation. What the doctor discovers during this evaluation helps them with their ultimate diagnosis. The second major component of an accurate diagnosis is testimony from the parents. As such, parents are encouraged to be honest about their child's behavior rather than try to make it appear minimal. Leaving out pertinent details only hurts a child's diagnosis and may leave their medical treatment lacking. Their tests, of course, will all include checking against the DSM-5 requirements.

Continue reading for information on the severity of oppositional defiant disorder.

Levels Of Severity With ODD

It is vital to note not all patients with oppositional defiant disorder are exceptionally defiant or disruptive. The three levels of severity in ODD are mild, moderate, and severe. Parents and educators may be able to develop an approximate idea of what level a child falls on, but the final determination of severity is still left to the medical professional.

Mild oppositional defiant disorder includes symptoms only occurring in one setting (e.g., only at home but not at school). Moderate ODD means the symptoms may occur in two settings (e.g., at home as well as at school). Severe cases mean the patient exhibits symptoms in virtually any setting. In some cases, children can begin to exhibit symptoms in one area, but then the symptoms extend to other settings over time. This is why the timing requirement is so important for an accurate diagnosis.

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Treating ODD In Children

Mental health professionals treat children with oppositional defiant disorder on an individual level. However, the typical treatments include parent-child interaction therapy, family therapy, individual therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, as well as training on appropriate social skills. Individual therapy is designed to help children with ODD express their feelings and manage their anger in healthier ways. Family therapy is particularly useful for improving communication and relationships between everyone within the unit. Social skills training, as its name indicates, helps children with oppositional defiant disorder interact more appropriately with their peers.

Parents can also expect to receive training on developing parenting skills more appropriate for children with ODD, such as giving instructions and following through with consequences when needed. This leads to parent-child interaction therapy, where parents receive coaching on interactions with their child with an emphasis on reinforcing positive behavior. Medication usually does not come into oppositional defiant disorder treatment, unless the child also has another condition, such as bipolar disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, where it can be a big help in alleviating those symptoms.

Continue for more information on changes to help treat ODD.

Lifestyle Changes

When treating a child with oppositional defiant disorder, many mental health professionals will advise parents to make lifestyle changes to help improve the situation. Strategies they will often suggest include becoming an active part of the child's life if they are not doing so already, offering specific praise and rewards for positive behavior, leading by example, creating a daily routine (including a chore) with assistance from the child, and setting limits and appropriate consequences. It's also imperative parents encourage their children to partake in physical activity, eat a healthy diet, and get adequate sleep each night to help reduce symptoms.

Of course, parents must also be aware there will be challenges in treatment. Continue reading for information on this.

Challenges In Treatment

Mental health professionals want parents to know there will be challenges at the beginning of treatment for oppositional defiant disorder, since all treatments are tailored to each child. Changing behavior as severe as what's seen in ODD does not occur overnight. Patients need firm parents who set boundaries and remain calm to set a good example. Parents must learn to be patient, to view setbacks with an open mind, and must be willing to work with their child's mental health counselor to revamp treatments as necessary for the best results in treating oppositional defiant disorder. The good news, however, is despite the challenges, it is possible patients can learn from a combination of different therapies and lifestyle changes.

Keep reading to uncover the potential complications linked to oppositional defiant disorder next.

Appearance of Other Mental Health Conditions

Oppositional defiant disorder often has a high comorbidity rate with other psychiatric issues. The appearance of other mental health conditions is a serious complication. In some cases, ODD can lead to these issues; in others, it may be part of a larger overarching personality disorder or illness. There's been a lot of study regarding oppositional defiant disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and conduct disorders. There have also been studies indicating many children with ODD also have depression or an anxiety disorder. Researchers believe the disorders may be comorbid because they're related to the same chemical imbalance in the brain. It's also possible environmental factors play a role. For example, if a child with oppositional defiant disorder feels their caregivers are disconnecting from them, they may be more likely to develop anxiety and depression.

Read about the next complication now.

Poor Performance at School

Oppositional defiant disorder can lead to poor performance at school. Children with ODD may continually disrupt class, argue with teachers, throw tantrums, and refuse to do their work. This can have a serious impact on both grades and social functioning. There have been special education resources developed for students with oppositional defiant disorder. In the United States, a 504 plan is an educational plan that provides accommodations for students with mental health issues. A student with ODD may need to be seated close to the teacher so other students aren't disrupted. They might also need to take breaks if they feel overwhelmed. If they have a learning disability along with oppositional defiant disorder, they might need an individualized education program.

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Antisocial Behavior

Children with ODD may exhibit antisocial behavior that can be harmful to both themselves and others. Many individuals mistakenly believe antisocial behavior is just introverted behavior or a lack of enjoyment sharing company with other children. But in psychology, antisocial behavior is defined differently and refers to a pattern of disruption and aggression antithetical to social functioning. Psychologists describe antisocial behavior as being unwarranted hostility toward authority, aggression, defiance, and deceitfulness. With oppositional defiant disorder, these behaviors are often targeted toward adults and authority figures, but they may also spread to include peers and children. Children exhibiting antisocial behavior may become bullies, emotionally abusive, or physically abusive to others in their environment.

Learn more about complications associated with oppositional defiant disorder now.

Increase Risk of Substance Abuse

Oppositional defiance disorder can increase the risk of substance abuse. Children and adolescents with ODD tend to exhibit more self-destructive behavior than the average teen. Their conflicts with authority and peers may be an extension of this self-destructive behavior. In addition, when they feel isolated from others, they may be more likely to use substance abuse to self medicate. Substance abuse may also be used as another form of defiance against authority. It's important to treat substance abuse issues that occur alongside ODD, since the use of substances can exacerbate behaviors and lead to more risky, impulsive decision making. What starts as occasional substance use can often spiral into abuse and dependence that requires treatment at a detox facility or rehab.