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Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD)

Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) is a psychiatric disorder found in children and reaches far beyond them simply not listening to what people are telling them to do. Characterised by a series of negative and disruptive behaviours, as well as antisocial or aggressive acts that usually involve people in authority, the condition is particularly common in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

All children and teenagers can display defiant behaviours when they feel upset, stressed or tired, often causing them to disobey rules, talk back, and generally disregard the authority of adults. However, if these negative behaviours happen frequently and stand out in comparison to peers of their own age and developmental ability, this might be a sign that they have ODD.

Specialist outpatient treatment

At Priory, we understand that having a child with ODD can be distressing, although our nationwide network of hospitals and wellbeing centres can offer specialist treatment on a primarily outpatient basis to help them manage and control their behaviours. One-to-one therapy sessions, family therapy, group therapy and medication can all play a role in improving the symptoms of ODD. These sessions can enable your child to learn coping techniques to improve their quality of life, as well as allowing you, as parents, to understand more about the condition and how you can best support your child.    

ODD can adversely impact many aspects of your child’s life, including relationships with family and friends, as well as their performance in education. If your child has ODD, they may only display patterns of behaviour in-keeping with the condition in one setting, such as at home. However, if their symptoms are more severe, they may appear excessively argumentative, angry or irritable in a number of scenarios.

The pattern of defiant behaviour and hostility towards people in authority can affect their daily routine. It can disrupt lessons in school and place considerable pressure on you as parents at home, where reasonable parenting methods are continually met with opposition and uncooperative behaviour. The key difference between bad behaviour seen in some children, and a diagnosis of ODD, is that ODD will typically cause your child to struggle to control their impulses. This can lead to them rebelling against rules or blaming others for their own mistakes, leading to regular defiant or provocative behaviour. This can get to the point where they may refuse a request even before they have heard what is being asked of them.

This page was clinically reviewed by Dr Imran Majid (MBChB, MRCPsych) in April 2022.

Types of treatment for ODD at Priory
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What is ODD?
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What is the cause of ODD?
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What are the signs and symptoms of ODD?
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