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Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)

All children from time to time are oppositional when tired, hungry or under stress. They talk back, disobey, defy teachers and parents and argue with other adults. This is normal for two to three year olds and early teens.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder however occurs when the behaviour is so often and consistent that it affects the family, school and social life of the child. There will be an ongoing pattern of defiant and hostile behaviour towards anyone seen as an authority figure and it will interfere with the day to day functioning of the child.

Symptoms of ODD may include:

  • Frequent temper tantrums
  • Being irritable or easily annoyed by others
  • Excessive arguing
  • Frequent anger and resentment
  • Defiance and refusal to comply with adult rules and requests
  • Mean and hateful speech when upset
  • Deliberately annoying or upsetting people
  • Revenge seeking
  • Blaming others for their mistakes and misbehaviour

Symptoms will be seen in more than one setting, but may be more apparent at home or at school. Five to 15 percent of all school-age children have ODD. Causes are unknown.


Children presenting with these symptoms should have an evaluation by a professional. ODD may often be present in other disorders such as ADHD, learning disabilities, depression, bipolar disorder and anxiety. Often the other disorder needs to be treated first.

Treatment can include cognitive behaviour therapy, anger management therapy, social skills training and medication.

Caregivers can have a very difficult time with a child with ODD but REMEMBER:

  • Always build on the positives
  • Pick your battles
  • Set reasonable, age appropriate limits
  • Be consistent with consequences
  • Keep interested in other activities
  • See Tips For Self-Care in the Getting Started section
Links or Useful Resources on Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD):
ABC’s of Mental Health -
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) -
Child and Parent Resource Institute - - or call 1-519-858-2774
Canadian Mental Health Association -