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An Overview of Oppositional Defiant Disorder

Meeting of pre-teen child girl and female social worker psychologist teacher at office - Oppositional Defiant Disorder

Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) is a behavioral disorder seen in children and adolescents. In the most general of terms, it causes perpetual hostility and brazen disobedience in kids. It seems to be more present in boys under the age of 12 than in any other group, although it can affect children or adolescents of any age. When a child has ODD, their parents, peers, teachers, friends, and siblings are also affected by the disorder. 

If you are a parent or caregiver of a child with ODD, it’s important to remember that the disorder is highly treatable and does not indicate that you have failed as a caretaker. The disorder does, however, indicate that your child needs your attention immediately and that changes need to be made at home, at school, and in your child’s daily routine. This is where our childhood and behavioral experts at Miramont Behavioral Health in Wisconsin can support you and your family with our adolescent inpatient psychiatric treatment programs

What Are The Main Symptoms of Oppositional Defiant Disorder?

Not every child will display each common characteristic of ODD, but it’s possible. Each symptom can also appear mildly, moderately, or severely. Symptoms may also only occur in certain spaces, like only at home, only at school, or only out in public. Some children may display severe ODD symptoms in all spaces. This can be seen as an advantage when it comes time for a diagnosis to be made, because it’s clear that ODD is at play and treatment can begin immediately and aggressively. 

  • Top Symptom #1: Chronic Anger and IrritabilityYou’ll notice that your child or teen frequently throws disproportionate fits in reaction to being told what to do. You may also observe that they’re easily visibly annoyed with you or others, despite their social proximity. Expressing resentment and grudge-holding are also common.
  • Top Symptom #2: Chronic Argumentativeness and DisobedienceChildren who display chronic disobedience will directly oppose the orders, requests, or instructions of any adult or older child who holds authority. They may also blame people in positions of authority for their mistakes or poor behavior. Sometimes children with ODD will also go out of their way to annoy, upset, or insult their caretakers.
  • Top Symptom #3: Spitefulness and Hurtful ActionsBeing vindictive is a common sign of ODD. This includes consciously trying to hurt people’s feelings. This can also include physical actions that are performed out of revenge or spite. Kids with ODD may often blurt out cruel insults or say mean things in the heat of the moment.

What Causes Oppositional Defiant Disorder in Kids?

Experts aren’t totally sure what causes ODD, but they have discovered some shared environmental and genetic attributes in kids who are diagnosed with the disorder. 

  • Many kids with ODD have a family history of substance abuse disorder (SUD) in their caretakers or loved ones.
  • Children who have suffered sexual, domestic, physical, or emotional abuse are more likely to develop ODD.
  • Families that experience poverty, chronic instability, and/or marriage conflicts have higher ODD rates in their kids.
  • Caretakers and parents with weaker parenting skills often experience ODD with their kids (weaker parenting skills sometimes look like inconsistent or overly harsh discipline styles, poor parental supervision rates, and parental rejection or abandonment).

What Resources Are Available For Kids With ODD?

Miramont has many resources to help your child and your family at our Waukesha and Middleton centers, where we offer acute and day treatment plans. Our skilled psychiatrists understand how the child and adolescent brain works. They create a safe, constructive space to support you in making helpful changes at home. We also give you the time, attention, and advice you’ll need to remain steadfast and loving while your child is being treated for ODD. 

We understand how agonizing the disorder can be day in and day out. That’s why we customize our care to your unique family situation without judgment or assumptions. We’re also equipped to care for your child around the clock in inpatient care if that’s the best option for your family unit. We hope you’ll find inspiration and encouragement in knowing that with treatment and sustained changes in family life, most ODD symptoms disappear completely in the third year following diagnosis. Be sure to contact us today to begin your journey toward an ODD-free household.

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