Oppositional Defiant Disorder

Oppositional defiant disorder, commonly referred to as ODD, is a condition which is described as a continuous pattern of defiant behavior, total disobedience and hostility shown by children toward anybody with authority, whether parent, guardian or teacher. The behavior goes far beyond the parameters of normal childhood disobedient behavior. The children who suffer from oppositional defiant disorder always behave as though they are angry and stubborn.

The behavioral features of ODD are manifestations of excessive and often endless and continuous anger, angry outbursts, frequent throwing of temper tantrums and complete disregard for authority. Adults and children who suffer from ODD very often bother and annoy other people on purpose, are easily annoyed and blame everybody else for their mistakes. These people will usually act resentfully to others and when confronted by somebody else and when they get annoyed they will often take revenge. For adolescents or children to qualify as suffering from oppositional defiant disorder, their behavior must cause great anxiety, pain and agony to their family and/or obstruct social and academic functioning. As a result of their behavior, adolescents or children may be prevented from learning at school, hampering their ability to make friends and at times putting them in dangerous situations.

Another criterion for being diagnosed with ODD is that this unruly behavior must carry on for at least six months.

Oppositional defiant disorder is more prevalent among boys than girls and begins to manifest itself by the age of eight years. Studies have shown that the disorder affects at least 20 percent of all school children. ODD is caused by a combination of a number of factors such as psychological, social and biological factors. Many parents with children with ODD have reported that they were more strict and rigid with that child than with any of its siblings.

The symptoms of oppositional defiant disorder can be noticed in various settings, however they are most noticeable in the school setting or at home.

There are a number of symptoms displayed by children who have the disorder: they are resentful, spiteful and bitter with others; they lose their temper quickly and are easily annoyed; they never follows adults' requests; they are constantly blaming others, chronic arguers, have few or no friends and are always in trouble at school

Any child suspected of suffering from ODD should be evaluated immediately before it develops into more severe disorders. These can include attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder and learning disabilities. There is treatment for sufferers of ODD such as psychotherapy, anger management therapy and social skills training, to mention just a few. In more severe cases medication to control anxiety and mood swings may be necessary.

It is not easy for parents who have a child with oppositional defiant disorder and those parents also need understanding and sympathy. There are things parents can do to help cope with a child who has ODD:

• Stress the positive and give the child compliments and praise. Whenever the child exhibits cooperation or flexibility provide positive reinforcement. Children respond positively to parenting techniques that use positive reinforcement.

• Whenever conflict with the child is about to explode and get out of hand, stop and take a break and do not overreact. After a few minutes when things have calmed down a bit, begin over again. When the child exhibits self restraint, compliment the child.

• It is important to choose what battles to fight. Children with ODD have difficult prioritizing struggles and angry feelings. It is sometimes wiser not to react to some of their outbursts. Wait until an outbreak occurs that is important and worth fighting for.

• Create acceptable age-appropriate limits together with consequences that can easily be enforced and stick to them.

Every person needs time out for some rest and relaxation and change of scenery. It is very important to be able to manage stress by creating programs of exercise and relaxation. When things get too much, take a break as often as necessary.

Parents should consult with their family doctor or pediatrician about treatment that is available for their child with ODD. They should also ask to be referred to a competent and qualified mental health professional who will help with the diagnosis and treatment of ODD.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder: Selected full-text books and articles

Cognitive Therapy with Children and Adolescents: A Casebook for Clinical Practice By Mark A. Reinecke; Frank M. Dattilio; Arthur Freeman Guilford Press, 2003 (2nd edition)
Clinical Assessment and Diagnosis in Social Work Practice By Jacqueline Corcoran; Joseph Walsh Oxford University Press, 2006
Librarian's tip: Chap. 5 "Oppositional Defiant Disorder and Conduct Disorder"
Clinical Applications of Evidence-Based Family Interventions By Jacqueline Corcoran Oxford University Press, 2003
Librarian's tip: Chap. 3 "Solution-Focused Therapy with Oppositional Defiant Disorder"
Oppositional Defiant Disorder By Twyford, Jennifer M National Association of School Psychologists. Communique, Vol. 43, No. 6, March/April 2015
Improving Treatment Outcome for Oppositional Defiant Disorder in Young Children By MacKenzie, Elizabeth P The Journal of Early and Intensive Behavioral Intervention, Vol. 4, No. 2, Summer 2007
Advanced Abnormal Child Psychology By Michel Hersen; Robert T. Ammerman Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2000 (2nd edition)
Librarian's tip: Chap. 19 "Oppositional-Defiant and Conduct Disordered Children"
Child Psychopathology By Eric J. Mash; Russell A. Barkley Guilford Press, 2003 (2nd edition)
Librarian's tip: Chap. Three "Conduct and Oppositional Defiant Disorders"
Educating Oppositional and Defiant Children By Philip S. Hall; Nancy D. Hall Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2003
"No! I Won't!" Understanding and Responding to Student Defiance By Smith, Andrea; Bondy, Elizabeth Childhood Education, Vol. 83, No. 3, Spring 2007
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