Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)

Our team at Florida Family Psychiatry has prepared the following educational guide and a collection of resources for you to learn more about the conditions we treat. Please scroll down to learn more. 

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Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) is a condition in which a child is excessively oppositional, argumentative, and defiant. Although some oppositional behavior can be a part of normal development between the ages of 2-3 and again during adolescence, a behavior disorder may be diagnosed when oppositional behaviors persist over time, are severe, or are uncommon for a child’s age.

Children with ODD are characterized as having a persistent pattern of defiant behaviors that is severe enough to affect their everyday life. ODD commonly presents between the ages of 6 and 8 years of age, and starts no later than the age of 12 by definition. In some cases, ODD symptoms can persist into adulthood. There is no known single cause for ODD, however it has been found that it is more common in families with a history of ADHD.

Did You Know?

According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), 1-16% of all school-age children and adolescents may meet diagnostic criteria for ODD.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Symptoms of ODD include:

  • losing one’s temper easily/frequent temper tantrums
  • excessive arguing with adults
  • actively defying or refusing to comply with requests from authority figures or with rules
  • deliberately annoying or upsetting others
  • blaming others for his or her own mistakes
  • being touchy or easily annoyed by others
  • being angry and resentful
  • being spiteful and vindictive

The symptoms of ODD can overlap in children and adults, however the behaviors must last at least six months for a diagnosis. In addition to the symptoms listed above, adults with ODD may despise supervisors at work, identify as a rebel, blame others for their own mistakes, or respond defensively while not being open to criticism. Only a licensed mental health professional can accurately diagnose ODD, so if you or a loved one are showing symptoms, schedule a consultation with our psychiatrists at Florida Family Psychiatry today.

There is no single test to diagnose ODD. Instead, ODD is diagnosed after a physical exam, discussion of the patient’s medical history, a review of symptoms, and ruling out other conditions that cause similar physical symptoms. The patient’s attitude and behavior will be evaluated, and collateral information may be obtained from teachers or other relevant adults. Since ODD is also commonly seen along with other mental health conditions such as ADHD, depression, or anxiety, the patient will be screened for these conditions as well. ODD can be diagnosed as mild, moderate, or severe based on the extent of the impairment.

Treatment for ODD generally consists of different types of therapies such as parent management training (PMT), individual therapy based on anger management, family therapy to improve communication, and cognitive behavioral therapy to focus on decreasing negativity and improving social skills. Although medications may or may not be used to treat symptoms of ODD, they may be used to treat other mental health conditions that are contributing to ODD. Commonly, treatment of co-existing ADHD, for example, significantly improves ODD behaviors.


Books for handling defiant behaviors:

Books for kids on anger



Some of the content of this Florida Family Psychiatry (FFP) webpage were sourced from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, the National Institute of Mental Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and their affiliates. The content on this page should be used for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. FFP has made every attempt to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the content on this website. However, the information is provided “as is” without warranty of any kind.

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