Oppositional defiant disorder is a behavioral disorder visible in children and adolescents. Read on to explore the causes, symptoms & treatment of the disorder.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder

Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) is recognized as a behavior disorder that is usually visible in children. It is marked by a display of hostility, disobedience and defiant behavior by the child, towards parents, peers, teachers and other figures of authority. A child or adolescent suffering from ODD is overtly aggressive and constantly irritating for others. The disorder is more commonly seen in boys than girls. It is reported to affect at least 20 percent school-age children. Experts believe that ineffective parenting practices, difficulty with other authority figures and poor interaction with peer groups foster the beginning of ODD in a child. Read on to know the causes, symptoms and treatmentof this disorder.
Though the definite case of ODD is not known, its development is explained on the basis of two theories. The development theory states that the problem surfaces when children are toddlers. Once they develop ODD, they struggle to separate from their primary attachment figure and learn independent skills. However, the learning theory suggests that the development of ODD in a child or adolescent is a reflection of negative reinforcement techniques used by parents and other authorities, over children. The theory believes that the rate and intensity of ODD increases in a child, with negative reinforcing by parents.
To diagnose oppositional defiant disorder, parents need to recognize the pattern of hostile and defiant behavior in a child. At the same time, the pattern has to continue for six months, during which at least four of the following characteristics should be frequently displayed by the child.  
  • Frequent loss of temper.
  • Regular arguments with adults.
  • Repeated defiance or refusal to comply with adult's requests and rules.
  • Deliberately annoying people.
  • Blaming others for his/her mistakes frequently
  • Being touchy and easily annoyed by others
  • Angry and resentful behavior
  • Spiteful and vindictive conduct
If a child displays any four of the above mentioned traits and they interfere with his/her ability to function normally, in all likeliness, the child is suffering from ODD and calls for treatment. The symptoms of ODD, sometimes, are also indicative of other medical problems and therefore, it is advisable to consult a doctor for the correct diagnosis.
Oppositional defiant disorder can be treated with a variety of approaches, including parent training programs, family therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, social skills training and individual psychotherapy. Peer group therapy is also undertaken to develop social skills and interpersonal skills in the child. Medication is not said to help much in treating the disorder. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry puts forward that ODD treatments are specifically tailored to meet the requirements of a particular child.
Some factors that need to be taken into consideration, while determining the right approach to treat ODD, have been listed below:
  • Age of the child
  • Overall health of the child
  • Medical history of the child
  • Extent of the ODD symptoms displayed by the child.
  • Child's tolerance to specific therapy and medication.
  • Parent's opinion and preference
Early detection of the disorder and right intervention in the negative interaction of the child can effectively disrupt the development of this disorder in children and adolescents.

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