Oppositional Defiant Disorder


When should a parent seek professional help for a child
who will not mind, despite frequent punishment?


One of the most common complaints of parents is that
they cannot get their child to behave or follow their
instructions, although most parents are able to manage
their children with typical methods of discipline.
However, in some children, noncompliant behavior is so
problematic that parents need additional help and
support in learning to control their child.
Oppositional Defiant Disorder is characterized by a
persistent pattern of negative, hostile, and defiant
behavior such as:
often loses temper
often argues with adults
often defies or refuses to comply with adult
requests or rules
often spiteful and vindictive
often angry and resentful
often blames others for own mistakes or
often touchy or easily annoyed
often deliberately annoys others
It is important to note that while most children have
demonstrated some of these behaviors at one time or
another, only about 5% of children exhibits symptoms
that are frequent and persistent enough to warrant a
diagnosis. What differentiates an ODD child from the
average child who won't mind his parents is the
frequency of the behavior and whether or not it is
causing problems in the child's life. For example,
parents of ODD children may avoid public outings or
have increased family stress specifically related to trying
to deal with the child's behavior. In addition, because of
the constant conflict created by parents' efforts to get
their child to behave, the parent-child relationship is
disrupted and can become quite negative.
Parents of ODD children are typically very frustrated
and have tried a variety of discipline techniques to get
their child to behave without long-term success. In fact,
too much punishment can make ODD children worse.
The best treatment for ODD children ages 2 to 8 is
Parent-Child Relationships Therapy, a behavioral
approach to improving not only the oppositional
behavior, but also the child's negative mood and the
interactions between parent and child. A similar, less
structured approach that involves parent education and
training is recommended for older children.

For additional information, contact The Rice Clinic.

Answered by: Dr. Susan Bryant, Ph.D.