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Oppositional Defiant Disorder in Children


Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) is when your child's behavior is frequently negative and aggressive. Your child may be irritable and argue, throw tantrums, and disobey. Your child may act out only at home or in many settings, such as school. ODD behavior is usually much more hostile than typical behavior of children the same age. Children with ODD often have other mental health conditions, such as anxiety, depression, ADHD, and learning disabilities.



  • Medicines may be given if your child also has depression, anxiety, or ADHD.
  • Give your child's medicine as directed. Contact your child's healthcare provider if you think the medicine is not working as expected. Tell him or her if your child is allergic to any medicine. Keep a current list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs your child takes. Include the amounts, and when, how, and why they are taken. Bring the list or the medicines in their containers to follow-up visits. Carry your child's medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your child's healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Create a structured environment for your child:

  • Do not argue with your child. Try to stay calm and show little or no expression when you have a disagreement.
  • Give your child positive feedback when earned. Positive words or rewards when your child follows rules will help promote good behaviors.
  • Have your child take a time out for negative behavior. This will allow your child time to relax and rethink his behavior.
  • Set limits and tell your child what you expect from him. Keep your child on a daily schedule. Set family meal times and one on one times between parent and child. Give your child chores to complete with clear instructions on how to do them.
  • Monitor your child for alcohol and drug use. Talk to your child's healthcare provider if you think he is using alcohol or drugs.
  • Offer choices when appropriate so your child does not feel that all control is being taken away.

For more information:

  • American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
    3615 Wisconsin Avenue NW
    Washington , DC 20016
    Phone: 1- 202 - 966-7300
    Web Address:
  • National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), Office of Science Policy, Planning, and Communications
    6001 Executive Boulevard, Room 6200, MSC 9663
    Bethesda , MD 20892-9663
    Phone: 1- 301 - 443-4513
    Phone: 1- 866 - 615-6464
    Web Address:

Contact your child's healthcare provider if:

  • Your child's behaviors do not improve, even with treatment.
  • You feel like hurting your child.
  • Your child cannot make it to his next therapy appointment.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • Your child talks about hurting himself or others.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Oppositional Defiant Disorder in Children (Aftercare Instructions)

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Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.