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Oppositional Defiant Disorder Symptoms & Treatment


Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) is a diagnostic category for a range of emotional and behavioral symptoms that persist in a child for at least six months. Children or adolescents with ODD present a significant challenge for parents and schools, and family life can be difficult and chaotic. However there are validated cognitive behavioral strategies that provide hope for parents, leading to less frequent negative interactions and more positive behaviors. ODD can vary in severity from mild to severe, however early treatment can prevent future problems.


Persistent behaviors that indicate ODD include a child or adolescent who frequently appears:

  •  Angry and irritable
    • Often loses his or her temper
    •  Can be easily annoyed
  • Argumentative and defiant
    • Argues with adults or people in authority
    • Actively defies or refuses to comply with adults’ requests or rules
    •  Deliberately annoys or upsets people
    •  Blames others for his or her mistakes or misbehavior
  • Vindictive
    • Has had multiple experiences of being spiteful or vindictive to adults, siblings or peers


At the Anxiety and Depression Center, our therapists have extensive experience in successfully treating disruptive behavior problems. There are validated cognitive behavioral strategies that help children and adolescents minimize conflict and improve behavior. Since individuals with ODD are often defensive and resistant to counseling, the early stages of therapy are designed to build rapport and motivation. Subsequent stages focus the child or adolescent on developing personalized goals, and then acquiring the skills to recognize problem behaviors that are getting in the way of reaching those goals. In addition, there is a strong parental training component that is involved. The therapist works with the family to develop a plan of rewards and consequences that will be most appropriate for each unique situation. Children gain self-confidence as they develop stronger impulse-control and self-management skills, and parents have the tools and guidance they need to maintain a calmer, more peaceful home.