ODD Effects, Signs & Symptoms

Understanding ODD

Learn About Oppositional Defiant Disorder

Most children are openly disobedient every now and again. This is especially true of those in what is known as the “terrible two’s” and early adolescence. These two stages are when children begin asserting their independence and testing limits with authority figures. Perhaps you’re familiar with your child arguing with you, disobeying what you tell them to do, or talking back. You’re likely also well acquainted with the word, “No,” which may be your child’s sole reply to any response, request, or command made by you. While these behaviors may be annoying, it’s essential to remember the fights you may be experiencing with your child are a combination of the development of self-assertion on their part and your attempt to socialize your child, Lakeland will help teach your child the importance of exercising control over unacceptable behavior and outbursts. If all goes well, these battles will result in a child who is confident in their sense of autonomy while being able to exercise appropriate self-control.

Sometimes, however, children’s negativism and defiance become extreme which can disturb the parent-child relationship and prevent the child from being able to follow a normal developmental path. Some of the behaviors that can affect the child’s ability to function according to developmental expectations include deliberately upsetting others, blaming others for their own mistakes, being spiteful and extreme anger outburst or temper tantrums. However, Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) differs from Conduct Disorder in that ODD does not include abuse of others rights or major societal norms.


ODD Statistics

Given that it can be difficult to determine the difference between normal developmental oppositional behavior and behavior that would meet the criteria for ODD there is variability in the prevalence rates based on diagnostic specificity. Prevalence rates in the U.S. have been estimated to be between 1% and 11% with a mean estimate of 3.3%. Rates of the disorder also appears to differ based on gender and age with higher rates found in boys before adolescence thought this gender difference seems to disappear around the time of adolescence.

Co-Occurring Disorders

Co-Occurring for Oppositional Defiant Disorder

There are several disorders which co-occur with ODD. In general, most of the disorders that are co-morbid with this condition fall under the category referred to as disruptive behavior disorders.

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • ADHD
  • Conduct disorder

The patterns of co-morbidity for ODD are somewhat complex however. ADHD co-occurs with ODD in as many of 57% of cases. The presence of ADHD increases the likelihood of an earlier onset of ODD symptoms. When both ADHD and conduct disorder co-exist with ODD the symptoms of ODD are far more severe that when ODD presents alone. When ADHD and ODD co-occur this is associated with learning disorders.

Causes and Risk Factors

Causes and Risk Factors for Oppositional Defiant Disorder

Genetic: It has been recognized that individuals who have a first-degree relative with a history of a disruptive behavior disorder are more likely to develop ODD compared to those without a similar history. Disorders that place an individual at risk include conduct disorder, attention deficit disorder, antisocial personality disorder, intermittent explosive disorder or other disorder involving negative or problematic behavior.

Parenting Factors: There is evidence that certain parenting styles may predispose a child to develop ODD. In particular, parenting which is inconsistent in terms of disciplinary approaches, limit setting, and the application of rules either with the individual child or across more than one child within the family, has been linked to ODD.

Parental Stress: It is not unusual for multiple children in a single family to display disruptive or oppositional behaviors. This can lead to feeling ineffective in terms of parenting abilities. Ultimately parents can become so overwhelmed that they abandon efforts to address the behaviors at all. This results in the children coming to learn there are no longer consequences for their behavior and the escalation of the negativistic behavior.

Modeling: Children frequently strive to be like older siblings. When a child has older siblings who display oppositional behavior or other symptoms of disruptive behavior disorders, there is an increased likelihood that the child will engage in similar behavior which can develop into ODD.

Environmental: There are certain environmental factors that have been shown to contribute to the development of ODD including dysfunctional family interactions, mental illness within family members, and inconsistent or lack of parental discipline.

Biological: Studies have indicated that particular areas of the brain that control the ability to regulate behavior and emotions may not be functioning properly in children with ODD. There are also specific chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters which are responsible for neural communication. When these chemicals are not balanced neural communication can be disrupted leading to the symptoms of ODD.

Modeling: When children grow up in a family with older siblings who display ODD behavior and parents are unable to discipline they may learn that they can get their way with similar behavior. Often when this occurs and parents end up with more than one oppositional child on their hands they become overwhelmed and give up trying to address the behavior.

Family Environment: There are certain family factors that have been shown to contribute to the development of ODD including maladaptive family interactions, psychological problems in family members.

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and Symptoms of Oppositional Defiant Disorder

There are numerous symptoms of ODD that can affect not only the child themselves but the entire family. These include:

  • Viewing the world negatively
  • Defiance
  • Noncompliance
  • Antagonism toward authority figures
  • Anger outbursts
  • Argumentativeness
  • Rejecting the requests and rules of others
  • Intentionally annoying or distressing
  • Blaming mistakes on others
  • Frequent anger outbursts and resentment
  • Spitefulness
  • Revenge seeking
  • Using obscenities
  • Becoming mean and hateful when angry
  • Frequent changes in mood
  • Lack of ability to tolerate frustration
  • Poor self-esteem
  • Being easily annoyed over imagined slights


Effects of ODD

  • Being rejected by other children
  • Problems in school
  • Absenteeism as a result from school refusal, being sent out of the classroom or suspension
  • Juvenile detention
  • Cheating to get by without completing assignments
  • Bullying
  • Being drawn to negative peers
  • Acting like a clown for attention or to disrupt class
  • Running away to get back at parents
  • Self-harm to gain attention or difficulty coping with negative emotions

Marks of Quality Care
  • Arkansas Juvenile Officers Association
  • Better Business Bureau (BBB)
  • Missouri Hospital Association
  • Missouri Juvenile Justice Association
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
  • The Joint Commission (JCAHO) Gold Seal of Approval
  • Tricare

At first I thought my child's oppositional behavior was normal. However, when it just seemed to get progressively worse, I had to get professional treatment for my little boy. Lakeland Behavioral Health was the best treatment option in the area and was able to get his behavior under control. I am grateful to Lakeland for helping my son!

– Donna F.

In response to the growing need for mental health services, we are expanding our older adult programming to include ages 40+