Emotional Wellbeing





Mandy Kloppers

Oppositional Defiant Disorder

Oppositional Defiant Disorder

Everyone has moments when they are defiant, argumentative and unwilling to cooperate. Oppositional Defiant Disorder is an extreme form of antagonism. Often found in teenagers, it involves constant undermining of authority and a concerted effort to oppose the status quo. Estimates suggest that 2%-16% of children and teens have Oppositional Defiant Disorder. In younger children, Oppositional Defiant Disorder is more common in boys. In older children, it occurs about equally in boys and in girls and it typically begins by age 8.

Many children and teens with Oppositional Defiant Disorder often have other behavioural problems, such as attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, learning disabilities, mood disorders (such as depression), and anxiety disorders. Some children with Oppositional Defiant Disorder go on to develop a more serious behaviour disorder called “conduct disorder“.

Symptoms of Oppositional Defiant Disorder:

Excessive arguing with adults

Saying mean and hateful things when upset

Actively refusing to comply with requests and rules

Deliberately trying to annoy and upset others

Being spiteful and seeking revenge

Blaming others for their mistakes, never taking responsibility

Frequent outbursts of anger and resentment


Causes of Oppositional Defiant Disorder

Biological – possible brain damage or existence of abnormal amounts of certain brain chemicals or neurotransmitters. If these chemicals are out of balance or not working properly, messages may not make it through the brain correctly, leading to symptoms of ODD, and other mental illnesses.

Genetics –Many children and teens with ODD have close family members with mental illnesses, including mood disorders, anxiety disorders, and personality disorders. This suggests that a vulnerability to develop ODD may be inherited.

Environmental –Factors such as a dysfunctional family life, a family history of mental illnesses and/or substance abuse, and inconsistent discipline by parents may contribute to the development of behaviour disorders.

Treatment of Oppositional Defiant Disorder

Treatment for ODD is determined based on many factors, including the child’s age, the severity of symptoms, and the child’s ability to participate in and tolerate specific therapies. Treatment usually consists of a combination of the following:

Psychotherapy: (a type of counselling) is aimed at helping the child develop more effective coping and problem-solving skills, and ways to express and control anger. A type of therapy called cognitive-behavioral therapy aims to reshape the child’s thinking (cognition) to improve behaviour. Family therapy may be used to help improve family interactions and communication among family members. A specialized therapy technique called parent management training (PMT) teaches parents ways to positively alter their child’s behavior.  Behaviour management plans also often involve developing contracts between parent and child that identify rewards for positive behaviours and consequences for negative behaviours.

Medication: While there is no medication formally approved to treat ODD, various drugs may be used to treat some of its distressing symptoms, as well as any other mental illnesses that may be present, such as ADHD or depression.

Prognosis of Oppositional Defiant Disorder

Without treatment, children with ODD may experience rejection by classmates and other peers because of their poor social skills and aggressive and annoying behaviour. In addition, a child with ODD has a greater chance of developing a more serious behavioural disorder called conduct disorder.
Mandy x
PS – Next week look out for my post on Conduct Disorder






Scroll to Top