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Oppositional Defiant Disorder

What is it?

Oppositional (ah-po-zih-shun-ull) defiant (d-fi-unt) disorder is a behavior problem found in children ages 3 to 18 years. Children with this problem argue often with their parents and others. Your child may be so angry that he has trouble in school. Or your child may have problems getting along with family and friends. Before the teenage years this disorder is more common in boys.


It is not known what causes oppositional defiant disorder. The problem may be more common in children or people who have mental health problems. Oppositional defiant disorder is more common in children whose parents have serious marital problems. Children with oppositional defiant disorder often have learning problems. Your child may have a hard time saying what he means.

Signs and Symptoms:

Symptoms may first show up at home. But with time symptoms may appear when your child is outside the home. Your child may have this disorder if he has one or more of the following symptoms for over 6 months.

  • Your child may argue and refuse to follow adult requests and rules. He may be angry and lose his temper. Your child may be stubborn and will not do tasks that you ask of him. Without reason, your child may be easily annoyed by others. Or your child may do things to bother other people, like grabbing a child's hat.
  • Swearing at or blaming others are also signs of this disorder. Your child may get hostile and take it out on others. Your child may be called a bully because he is mean to other children. During the school years your child may feel badly about himself. You may notice that your child gets frustrated easily. Your child may try alcohol, cigarettes, or street drugs.


You, your child, and your family may need to go to counseling meetings. Caregivers will teach you about oppositional defiant disorder at these meetings. You will also learn ways to understand your child and cope with the disorder. Caregivers may help you learn how to help your child do better at home and school. If your child's behavior is out of control and harmful, he may be put in the hospital.


Accepting that your child has oppositional defiant disorder may be hard. You and those close to you may feel depressed, angry, or sad. You may feel relieved to know why your child is not like other children. These are normal feelings. Talk to your caregivers, family, and friends about your feelings.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. To help with this plan, you must learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. You can then discuss treatment options with your child's caregivers. Work with them to decide what care may be used to treat your child.

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

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