Oppositional defiant disorder is a pattern of being repeatedly disobedient and hostile for 6 months or more. The problem behaviors happen more and are worse than other children of the same age and sex.
If a child's behavior has gotten to the point of dangerous anger or violence, destroying property, and stealing and has been this way for a year or more, the problem may be a more serious condition called conduct disorder. Some children with oppositional defiant disorder develop conduct disorder or antisocial personality disorder as they grow up.
The exact cause of this disorder is not known. It tends to run in families, but it is not known if this is due to being born with the disorder, or if it is due to parenting. The disorder is more common in children with a parent who:
Children with this disorder may have been fussy or colicky as infants. It is not known if this is in response to, or a result of their parents’ caregiving style. Children are also at greater risk if they have attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), speech and language problems, or a learning disability.
The disorder usually starts by age 8, but it may start as early as the preschool years. In young children, this disorder is more common in boys. In teens, it is equally common in boys and girls.
Symptoms may include:
Your child's healthcare provider or a mental health therapist will ask about your child's symptoms, medical and family history, and any medicines your child is taking. He will make sure that your child does not have a medical illness or drug or alcohol problem that could cause the symptoms. Your child may have tests or scans to help make a diagnosis.
The best treatment is firm limits with clear rules, consistent results, and immediate rewards for good behavior. Be calm during discipline. Since children with this disorder seek to annoy, if you get angry and yell, it may increase how often they misbehave. Severe punishments may make your child’s behavior worse.
Therapy may also be helpful.
Medicines are not used to treat this disorder.
Get emergency care if a loved one has serious thoughts of suicide or self-harm, violence, or harming others.
For more information, contact: