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Quick Facts on Oppositional Defiant Disorder

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A brief overview of the signs and symptoms of oppositional defiant disorder, as well as treatments.


Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) is a behavior disorder that puts children persistently at odds with authority figures. Children with ODD are temperamental, disobedient, spiteful, or vindictive to a highly unusual degree. The disorder significantly undermines the child's ability to get along with family, peers, and other adults.


  • Unusually quick to lose his temper
  • Ignores or rebels against rules, at home or at school
  • Quick to blame others for mistakes or misbehavior
  • Prone to annoy others and be easily annoyed himself
  • Disruptive behavior appears to be intentional rather than impulsive
  • Refuses to cooperate reflexively—even before he knows what is being asked.


The disorder appears to run in families, and family behaviors may play a role. There is a strong association between authoritarian parenting and harsh or inconsistent discipline practices and the onset of ODD.  The opposite is also true—not setting enough limits, or what professionals call "laissez-faire" parenting, is also associated with the onset of ODD.


ODD is usually treated with a type of behavioral therapy that includes parents, or a combination of behavioral intervention and medication. Treatment like Parent-Child Interaction Therapy is designed to increase positive parent-child interactions and teach the parent limit-setting skills that enable children to control disruptive behaviors and increase desired behaviors.

Medicines are not specifically indicated for ODD, but may be administered for co-occurring conditions such as ADHD, or help the child get the most out of her in the therapy sessions.

See our Mental Health Guide for more background on ODD.

Published: August 22, 2011

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