Oppositional Defiant Disorder in Children


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By Rekha Rajvanshi

What is oppositional defiant disorder (ODD)

Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) is a childhood behavioral problem characterized by constant disobedience and hostility. A child with ODD won’t do what people ask, thinks that what he/she’s being asked to do is unreasonable, and gets angry and aggressive about being asked to do things.

A child with ODD may:
becomes easily angered, annoyed or irritated
has frequent temper tantrums
argues frequently with adults, such as parents
refuses to obey rules
seems to deliberately try to annoy or aggravate others
has low self-esteem
has low frustration threshold
blames others for any accidents or bad behavior.


An ODD diagnosis can be made only by a health professional i.e. child psychologist, child psychiatrist or pediatrician specializing in behavioral disorders. Diagnosis involves detailed interviews with the child (if they are old enough), parents and teachers.

Tips for the Parents

Know your child well and work with health professionals to develop a behavior management plan, which can make the behavior easier to handle – for you and your child. This plan will help your child in managing strong emotions i.e. anger and anxiety and improving communication and social skills.

Establish a few fair rules involving your child. Explain him/her why the rules are important.

Simplify instructions, use simple and short sentences and give one instruction at a time.

Agree on consequences that are appropriate for the age of the child. Stay calm and be consistent in applying consequences.

Identify triggers and teach your child strategies to deal with it. Once you know what can set your ODD child off, you can help him to develop coping skills to deal with these triggers.

Offer your child one or two choices at a time such as: you want to do your homework now or after the TV show? Don’t complicate it by giving him many options.

Maintain a home school communication diary and keep in touch with the class teacher to track and monitor your child’s behavior progress.

Avoid using negative consequences i.e. scolding, time out etc. Research shows that physical punishment for bad behavior does not work especially in ODD.

Spend some quality time with your child, discuss his problems and suggest solutions. Encourage your child to attend special programs on resilience, wellbeing and bullying.

Don’t feel helpless or start making assumptions. If you are concerned about your child’s behavior, talk to the school counselor, see a child psychologist/ child psychiatrist or pediatrician who specializes in behavioral disorders.

(Rekha Rajvanshi has Masters of Psychology and Masters of Philosophy in Education. She also studied Special Education at Macquarie University and works as a learning and Support teacher. She supports students with disabilities on a regular basis. This month, Rekha is sharing information on how to support children with oppositional Defiant Disorder)

The Indian Telegraph Sydney Australia

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