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Oppositional Defiant Disorder


The Manual's Editorial Staff

Last full review/revision Nov 2020| Content last modified Nov 2020
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What is oppositional defiant disorder?

Oppositional means being opposed to (against) things. Defiant means not doing what you're told.

Oppositional defiant disorder is:

  • A behavior problem in which a child is negative, difficult, and repeatedly disobeys teachers and parents

Many children act this way sometimes, but a child with oppositional defiant disorder acts this way over and over again. To be considered a disorder, the child's behavior has to be serious enough to harm relationships or schoolwork.

Children with this disorder commonly:

  • Argue with adults

  • Lose their temper easily and often

  • Ignore rules and instructions

  • Annoy people on purpose

  • Blame others for their own mistakes

  • Seem angry and resentful

  • Are easily annoyed

  • Don't have good social skills

However, children with oppositional defiant disorder do know the difference between right and wrong.

Oppositional defiant behavior usually starts in preschool. However, it may not start until elementary school or even middle school.

How can doctors tell if my child has oppositional defiant disorder?

How do doctors treat oppositional defiant disorder?

Doctors treat oppositional defiant disorder with:

  • Behavior management methods such as using steady discipline and rewarding good behavior. Your child’s therapist can teach you and your child’s teachers how to use these methods

  • Sometimes, group therapy with other children to help them improve their social skills

  • Sometimes, medicine

It's important to treat other mental health problems, such as ADHD or family problems, that could be making your child's behavior worse.

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