Skip to Content

Oppositional Defiant Disorder In Children


  • Oppositional (opo-ZISH-un-al) defiant (de-FEYE-ant) disorder, also called ODD, is a common behavior problem seen in children and teenagers. This occurs when your child's oppositional (acting against) behavior occurs more often than normal and lasts longer than six months. A child with ODD may be very stubborn, aggressive, hostile, or openly troublesome most of the time. He may also regularly throw tantrums or purposely bother or irritate you, his teachers, and other adults. This behavior may affect your child's relationships and daily activities at home and in school. ODD usually affects children between 3 and 18 years of age, and is more common among boys.
  • A guide is used by caregivers to diagnose ODD. At least four symptoms must be present for at least six months for a diagnosis to be made. These symptoms must be bad enough to cause problems with your child's daily activities and relationships. The symptoms should be present in two or more settings, such as in school or at home. Symptoms should not be caused by other health conditions or problems. The signs and symptoms may include anger, not following rules, arguing, and blaming others most of the time. Your child may often be mean, touchy, resentful, and easily annoyed. With treatment, such as medicine and therapy, your child's ODD may be controlled and his quality of life improved.


You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's caregivers to decide what care you want for your child.


Treatment for ODD may cause unwanted side effects. Some medicines may cause your child to have a slow heartbeat, low blood pressure, trouble sleeping, or poor appetite. Other side effects include weight loss, problems with growth, depression, irritability, and unusual changes in behavior. If left untreated, your child's behavior may get worse and he may develop other serious problems. These problems may include alcohol or drug use, depression, and problems with his conduct, mood, friendships, and relationships. He may develop a poor image of himself or he may get more out of control at home or in school. Your child may even have thoughts of seriously harming himself or others. Ask your child's caregivers if you are worried or have questions about your child's condition, medicine, or care.


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that your child may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your child's medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done to your child. Make sure all of your questions are answered.

Emotional support:

Stay with your child for comfort and support as often as possible while he is in the hospital. Ask another family member or someone close to the family to stay with your child when you cannot be there. Bring items from home that will comfort your child, such as a favorite blanket or toy.


is a small tube placed in your child's vein that is used to give him medicine or liquids.


Your child may have any of the following:

  • Anti-depressants: These medicines are given to decrease or prevent anger and symptoms of depression. They can also be used to treat other behavior problems.
  • Blood pressure medicines: These medicines are usually used to control high blood pressure. They may also be used to help your child feel calmer, more focused, and less irritable.
  • Stimulants: These medicines are given to help your child pay attention, concentrate better, and help improve his behavior.


Your child may need any of the following:

  • 12 Lead EKG: This test helps caregivers see your child's heart activity. It helps caregivers look for changes or problems in different areas of the heart. Sticky pads are placed on your child's chest, arms, and legs. Each pad has a wire that is hooked to a machine or TV-like screen. This machine shows a tracing of your child's heartbeat. This test takes about five to ten minutes. Your child must lie very still during the test.
  • Blood and urine tests: Samples of your child's blood or urine are collected and sent to a lab for tests.

Treatment options:

The aim of treatment is to help your child learn how to control his own behavior. Caregivers will also help you learn how to cope with your child's ODD. Ask your child's caregiver for more information about the following therapies.

  • Behavioral therapy: With a therapist, your child will learn how to control his actions and improve his behavior. This is done by teaching him how to change his behavior by looking at the results of his actions. He may learn that certain behaviors have good or bad results. These results may make him feel either good or bad about himself. Good behaviors will be rewarded and encouraged, while unwanted or bad behaviors will be discouraged.
  • Parent management training: Special training, such as parenting techniques, may help improve your relationship with your child. This training is taught by a special caregiver. You may also watch videos or read books on how to be a good and effective parent to your child.
  • Psychotherapy: This is a type of counseling that is usually done in a series of meetings or talks. Psychotherapy may be attended by you, your child, and your family. These meetings can help everyone better understand ODD. Your caregiver may also include your child's teachers or people that are close to him during these talks.

Further information

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

Learn more about Oppositional Defiant Disorder In Children (Inpatient Care)

IBM Watson Micromedex