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Identifying and Overcoming Oppositional Defiant Disorder

Signs of Oppositional Defiant Disorder & Overcoming it

If you have a one or more children of your own, then you of course know that temper tantrums and behavioral challenges inevitably come up from time to time. This is totally normal, and it is even a sign of healthy development in your little one. What happens, though, when you feel like it has maybe gotten out of control and you are no longer sure about what to about the troublesome behavior? Is this still just a developmental phase that will eventually pass, or is there an underlying cause that requires a bit more attention? Kids and teens can struggle with their mental health just as much as adults, and there are a number of treatment options when it comes to these scenarios. Oppositional defiant disorder, or ODD, is a condition that is sometimes seen in young children or teens that are frequently angry, irritable, and defiant. Today we are going to cover everything you need to know about this disorder and ways that you can work through it together.


What Is ODD?

Oppositional defiant disorder is characterized by consistent and intense anger, unwillingness to cooperate, defiance, and irritability towards parents or various authority figures. ODD behavior might start during the toddler years or a bit later in life, and while there is no definitive root cause, ODD may stem from a couple of factors. The environment that a child is consistently surrounded by can have a major effect on the overall mental and emotional development of them, such as living with guardians that do not operate in a role that is appropriate or conducive to healthy childhood development. Genetics may also play a role when it comes to ODD since the functionality of the brain can be reliant on factors like genes.


The child or other individual living with ODD probably does not know how to healthily control their anger and temperament, and they may execute some actions out of spite. These difficulties can unfortunately trickle into other areas of life, such as in school, in personal relationships and friendships, and certainly with family members. Other disorders, such as anxiety or ADHD, may be risk factors for developing ODD, and children who are living with some level of it also have a higher possibility of developing depression and other conduct or communication disorders.


Signs and Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of course may vary between individuals, and some may be more prominent than others. It can be difficult to decipher between what is a “normal” level of temperament and when it has gotten out of control. Generally speaking, ODD can be officially diagnosed around the age of elementary school in children after the behaviors can be monitored and examined for enough time. Some specific signs and symptoms of ODD may include:

Temper that is quickly lost

In those with ODD, a typical sign that will be apparent is that the temper of the child will be quite short on a regular basis.

Resentful and vindictive

You may notice that your child is often resentful or tries to be spiteful by getting back at someone in a revenge-like manner when they have ODD.

Easily aggravated by others

A common symptom in ODD is aggravation that is displayed toward authority figures like parents and teachers and even peers, too.

Highly argumentative

With ODD, it is typical to experience heightened argumentativeness that might make an appearance over simple things or scenarios.

Extreme defiance

A major sign of ODD is extreme defiance against parents and authority and an unwillingness to cooperate in different situations.

 Placing blame elsewhere

If your child has ODD, you may notice that they will often try to place blame elsewhere if they did something wrong or against the rules.

Some of these symptoms may manifest more often or intensely than others, as ODD is on a spectrum that varies from mild to severe cases. Keep a close eye on the most noticeable signs so that you can provide the mental health professional you see with as much accurate information as possible.


Overcoming ODD

Thankfully, there is a plethora of knowledge and resources available out there to help those that may be in a position of having a child that is displaying consistent signs of ODD. After an official diagnosis, it is beneficial for children to start attending therapy as soon as possible. CBT is a style of therapy that has proven to have a high efficacy in treating ODD by helping clients understand their harmful behaviors and the thought processes behind them. Family therapy can also be integrated for treatment of ODD, as this can strengthen the relationship and communication abilities in a family unit. The information and techniques acquired in therapy sessions can be incorporated into everyday life at home, as well. ADHD is frequently seen in individuals with ODD, so treatment in the form of medication for this can complement and help maintain how much it manifests.

Figuring out how to cope and overcome difficulties with ODD is just as much of a challenge and learning experience for parents and caregivers and seeking out treatment for this disorder is a huge step in the right direction towards better and more manageable days. Positive, supportive parenting can possibly help offset some of the advancement of ODD, too.

 It is in no way easy to learn that your child is struggling mentally with something like ODD and navigating the road to figuring this out can be overwhelming and daunting. Finding connections with other parents that are in a similar boat can help you get through any difficult times. Having quality support is so necessary and helpful in situations like this and having others to talk to and gain insight from can make this journey substantially easier. Some children do end up growing out of ODD over time, and the treatment options that are often used have shown to be highly effective. As a parent, you may need to make a lot of adjustments to mend the relationship with your child so that they can work through everything in the healthiest and most trusting environment possible. On the other side of everything, though, there are many tremendously happier and more connected days ahead awaiting you.


Getting Help

If you suspect your child might have Oppositional Defiant Disorder, please reach out to us at Dr. Messina & Associates. Our team of compassionate and qualified psychiatrists, psychologists, and therapists will help you and your child find the tools to cope with these issues. We will work as a team with you to help your family find peace and balance. We are accepting in-person appointments in our DFW (Southlake) offices. Online appointments are available to patients in the Austin, DFW, Houston, and San Antonio areas. 

Dr. Michael Messina

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