Oppositional Defiant Disorder: 7 Ways To Safely Parent A Defiant Child

signs of symptoms of oppositional defiant disorder

Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) is a mental condition and a behavior disorder, usually observed in children. Kids with this disorder tend to be aggressive, defiant, resistant, and stubborn towards authority figures, like parents and teachers. Let us take a closer look at ODD and how you can better deal with it.

Children And Defiance

Acting out at times is fairly common among children. They often get defiant or become stubborn when they are upset, hungry or sleepy. They can misbehave at home or even in school to disobey parents and teachers. Such behaviors are often considered a normal stage of development during early childhood and adolescence. However, when such defiant and hostile behavior becomes common, frequent, consistent and open, then it can develop into oppositional defiant disorder (ODD). Such behavior can not only affect the child’s healthy development, it can also affect their family, teachers, other children and authority figures. Such behavior may even hamper the child’s learning and education.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder: 7 Ways To Safely Parent A Defiant Child

Children with oppositional defiant disorder exhibit extreme defiant behaviors that are not observed in other normal children. These behavior patterns are usually well-established, consistent, severe and long lasting. They start showing a repeated pattern of hostility, irritability, vindictiveness, anger, antagonism and argumentativeness. As a parent, you find it increasingly difficult to manage your child or teenager. Their behavior is not only stressful for you, but also makes you feel overwhelmed. As these children seem to be focused solely on creating chaos and disobeying others, it can often leave you feeling frustrated, exhausted, annoyed and lost. 

Related: 9 Guiding Principles For More Positive Parenting

What Exactly Is Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)?

ODD is a psychological and behavioral disorder involving irritability, angry mood, defiant, aggressive, argumentative & vindictive behavior towards authority figures. “Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) is a type of childhood disruptive behavior disorder that primarily involves problems with the self-control of emotions and behaviors,” explains a recent study. It is classified as “disruptive, impulse-control, and conduct disorders” in American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5). The child’s behavior is typically targeted at caregivers, parents, relatives, teachers, coaches, peers and other individuals with authority. The disorder can  not only adversely affect family interactions and relationships, but also hamper the child’s day to day activities at home, school or social settings. However, children with ODD are not aggressive towards people in general, are not deceitful, do not harm animals or damage property.

According to a study, the lifetime prevalence of the condition is around 10.2% in adults, with women at 9.2% and men at 11.2%. Although there is no specific age of onset, most children with the disorder start to exhibit signs and symptoms of ODD between the ages of 6 & 8 years. Research has found boys have a higher risk of developing consistent ODD symptoms than girls. However, no significant gender differences were observed by the researchers. Although the disorder has been found to “remit” with age in around half of the patients after a period of 3 years, some patients may eventually develop conduct disorder (CD), which is characterized by violent and hostile behavior. It is also believed that the development of oppositional defiant disorder may be influenced by a number of complex factors and their interactions, such as genetic, environmental & psychosocial factors. In fact, researchers have found that estimated heritability of ODD is about 50%.

Related: How To Get Your Kids To Listen: 9 Tips To Speak So Kids Listen

According to a 2016 study, ODD is a disruptive behavior disorder that typically lasts for around 6 months.Children and adolescents with ODD may have trouble controlling their temper and are often disobedient and defiant toward others,” the study adds. When left untreated, the disorder can lead to other comorbid conditions like –

  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Conduct disorder
  • Learning disabilities
  • Mood disorders, such as anxiety and depression
  • Substance use disorders
  • Social & emotional problems in adulthood
  • Suicidal tendencies

The 2016 study states “Adults and adolescents with a history of ODD have a greater than 90% chance of being diagnosed with another mental illness in their lifetime.” Early diagnosis and treatment involving behavioral therapy and medications can help a child to overcome the severe symptoms and live a healthier life.

Symptoms Of Oppositional Defiant Disorder

signs of symptoms of oppositional defiant disorder info

Research indicates that oppositional defiant disorder symptoms increase the risk of developing other severe mental illnesses and outcomes, especially in late adolescence. Here are some of the most common symptoms of ODD that you need to watch out for in your disobedient and defiant child, adolescent, or teen:

  1. Constant defiant behavior or refusing adults
  2. Strong dislike for authority figures
  3. Repeatedly argues with parents and other adults
  4. Vengeful and spiteful
  5. Annoys or misbehaves deliberately
  6. Consistently defies rules and requests from adults or questions rules
  7. Frequently throw temper tantrums
  8. Tends to be highly argumentative
  9. Excessive anger and become annoyed easily
  10. Resentful and vindictive behavior towards adults
  11. Shifts blame on others for their own mistakes
  12. Irritable and easily annoyed by adults or authority figures
  13. Rebellious behavior 
  14. Tends to be very rude or mean and has a bad or negative attitude towards others
  15. Highly defensive to feedback or positive criticism
  16. Feels misunderstood
  17. Repeatedly insults others using swear words or obscene language

Apart from these, a child with the oppositional defiant disorder may also be highly manipulative, feel very frustrated, and show signs of stress, anxiety, and depression.

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