Diseases & Conditions
Oppositional Defiant Disorder
Oppositional defiant disorder is a recurring pattern of negative, defiant, and disobedient behavior.
Children with oppositional defiant disorder are stubborn, difficult, and disobedient without being physically aggressive or actually violating the rights of others. Many preschool and early adolescent children occasionally display oppositional behaviors, but oppositional defiant disorder is diagnosed only if behaviors persist for 6 months or more and are serious enough to interfere with social or academic functioning. Most often, children develop this disorder by age 8.
Typical behaviors of children with oppositional defiant disorder include arguing with adults; losing their temper; actively defying rules and instructions; blaming others for their own mistakes; and being angry, resentful, and easily annoyed. These children do know the difference between right and wrong and feel guilty if they do anything that is seriously wrong.
Oppositional defiant disorder is best treated through behavior management techniques, which include a consistent approach to discipline and appropriate reinforcement of desired behavior. Parents and teachers can be instructed in these techniques by the child's counselor or therapist.
Last full review/revision February 2003
Source: The Merck Manual Home Edition