teenage oppositional defiance disorder

Oppositional Defiant Disorder: What You Need to Know

March 8, 2018

Oppositional defiant disorder, also referred to as ODD, is a mental health disorder that mainly affects children but can manifest in early adolescence as well. The condition causes a child to behave in a defiant and vindictive manner and causes a repetitive pattern of anger and argumentativeness. Of course, many kids display these types of rebellious behaviors, but when there is a consistent pattern of them, it can signal an actual disorder.

As a parent, the best thing you can do when you suspect your child has ODD is to contact a doctor. Mental health professionals and child development experts are also valuable in diagnosing and treating kids with the disorder.

Symptoms of Oppositional Defiant Disorder

In many instances, it can be difficult to discern the symptoms of oppositional defiant disorder in comparison to a child simply being strong-willed. Oppositional behavior is generally normal in certain stages of a child’s development.

Usually, signs of the disorder begin as early as a child’s preschool years. Although oppositional defiant disorder can develop later in life, it nearly always starts before a child reaches their early teens. The symptoms can cause a considerable amount of disruption in the child’s daily life with their family, school and peers.

In order for ODD to exist, the following symptoms would have to be present for at least six months:

  • Angry and irritable mood: A child with ODD is frequently angry and tends to lose their temper easily. That anger may also be coupled with a feeling of resentfulness and the child may become easily annoyed by other people and blow up at them often.
  • Argumentative and defiant behavior: The child frequently argues with parents, teachers and adults in authority, acts defiant and refuses to comply with rules or requests, may deliberately annoy people and blame other people for their own behavior or mistakes.
  • Vindictiveness: Kids with ODD are often spiteful and have shown a behavior that is vindictive at least twice within six months’ time.

Oppositional defiant disorder can vary in severity. When it is in its mild form, the child often shows their symptoms in one setting, such as at home or in school. Moderate ODD means the symptoms occur in at least two places, such as in school and at home. Severe ODD means that the child exhibits symptoms in three or more settings.

Generally, for many kids, symptoms of the disorder are initially exhibited in the home but eventually extend to school or in other areas around friends and other peers.

What Causes Oppositional Defiant Disorder?

Unfortunately, there is no clear-cut known cause of oppositional defiant disorder. However, it is believed that there is a combination of factors that can contribute to it. Those include the following:

  • Genetics: The condition can be genetic due to a natural disposition to the disorder and possibly due to neurobiological aspects of the brain’s nerves and its function.
  • Environment: A child’s environment can be a contributing factor, especially if there is a history of abuse or neglect, a lack of supervision or inconsistencies in discipline.

What are the Risk Factors for ODD?

Oppositional defiant disorder is a complex condition that can develop due to a number of problems. The following are possible risk factors for the disorder:

  • Environment: The child’s environment can put them at a greater risk for developing ODD.
  • Parenting issues: If a child has had inconsistent discipline, does not get supervision from a parent or has inconsistent parental supervision, or has been neglected or abused by a parent, it can put them at a greater risk for ODD.
  • Other family issues: Children who live in a household where there is constant discord within the family or who have a parent who suffers from mental illness or substance abuse disorder are at risk for ODD.
  • Temperament: Children who have the type of temperament that includes reacting overly emotionally to certain situations or who get easily frustrated or angry can more easily develop ODD.

How is ODD Treated?

There are a variety of treatments for oppositional defiant disorder, but the primary one includes interventions by the family. Treatment can last for a few months or longer, but it’s important to also treat coexisting issues like learning disabilities as they can exacerbate the symptoms of ODD if they go untreated. Treatment can include the following:

  • Cognitive problem-solving training: This is a type of therapy that allows children to learn to identify certain behaviors and consciously change them.
  • Individual and family therapy: Both individual and family therapy can help kids to better express themselves and work on ways to improve relationships with family members.
  • Parent-child interaction therapy: This treatment involves a therapist coaching parents while interacting with the child. It helps parents to learn to reinforce positive behavior and can improve the parent-child relationship.
  • Parent training: This is a therapy for parents that teaches them how to be more positive in their parenting by teaching parenting skills.

If your child has ODD, he or she deserves the best treatment in a safe, professional environment. Centered Health offers a range of residential treatment options in a comfortable and compassionate atmosphere. Get in touch with the facility at your earliest convenience to learn more.