Oppositional Defiant Disorder

Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) is a pattern of negative, defiant, and hostile behavior toward authority figures and often includes a tendency to bother and irritate others on purpose. Periods of oppositional behavior are common during preschool years and adolescence. Oppositional defiant disorder only can be diagnosed if these behaviors persist and cause significant impairment in social or academic functioning.

Problems often begin in children before they reach the age of 8 years. Problem behaviors often start at home, but over time these behaviors may appear in other settings. There is often a vicious cycle between a child's difficult temperament (hard to sooth, intense emotional reactions) and the parents' frustrated, negative or harsh reactions. Oppositional defiant disorder tends to run in families. It also is more common when parents are experiencing marital problems.


Symptoms of ODD include negative, hostile and defiant behavior that lasts at least 6 months. During these 6 months, 4 or more of the following behaviors are present:

  • Loss of temper.

  • Argumentative behavior toward adults.

  • Active refusal of adults' requests or rules.

  • Deliberately annoys people.

  • Refusal to accept blame for his or her mistakes or misbehavior.

  • Easily annoyed by others.

  • Angry and resentful.

  • Spiteful and vindictive behavior.


Oppositional defiant disorder is diagnosed in the same way as many other psychiatric disorders in children. This is done by:

  • Examining the child.

  • Talking with the child.

  • Talking to the parents.

  • Thoroughly reviewing the medical history.

It is also common in the children with ODD to have other psychiatric problems.