Oppositional Defiant Disorder

What is Oppositional Defiant Disorder?

Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) is a childhood behaviour problem. A child with ODD won’t do what people ask, thinks that what she/he is being asked to do is unreasonable, and gets angry and aggressive about being asked to do things. Around one in 10 children under the age of 12 years are thought to have ODD, with boys outnumbering girls by two to one. ODD can be diagnosed as young as three but most often children are diagnosed during primary school.

All children are disobedient and cranky sometimes, especially if they’re tired, upset or frustrated. But a child with ODD behaves like this a lot, and the ODD behaviour is so severe that it impacts on the daily functioning of the child, the family and the classroom environment.

What are the indicators of ODD?

The child:

  • loses his temper
  • argues with adults
  • actively refuses to do what adults ask and disobeys rules
  • often blames others for mistakes or challenging behaviour
  • is easily annoyed by others
  • is often nasty or unkind
  • Seem to deliberately try to annoy or aggravate others
  • Have low self-esteem
  • Have a low frustration threshold
  • Seek to blame others for any accidents or bad behaviour.

In order to meet diagnostic criteria these behaviours are to be present for at least 6 months and observed across multiple environments.

Intervention for ODD

At YLO Psychology Clinic we often receive referrals for children in relation to challenging behaviours, anger out-bursts or for ODD. Treatment is multi-faceted and collaborative in nature with a significant focus on parenting strategies. Research indicates that early intervention and the quality of parenting are significant factors for reducing the presence of the symptoms of ODD.

Treatment for ODD and/or challenging behaviours including anger may include:

  • Parental training: to help the parents better manage and interact with their child, including behavioural techniques that reinforce positive behaviour choices and discourage negative behaviour choices
  • Individual child-work: to provide appropriate affect regulation strategies, increase frustration tolerance and social skill development
  • Consistency of care: all carers of the child (including parents, grandparents, teachers, child care workers and so on) need to be consistent in the way they behave towards and manage the child.