Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)

ODD is characterized by two problems:

  • aggressiveness
  • a tendency to purposefully bother and irritate others

The criteria for ODD are...

A pattern of negative, hostile and defiant behavior lasting at least
six months during which four or more of the following are present:

1. Often loses temper
2. Often argues with adults
3. Often actively defies or refuses to comply with adults' requests
or rules
4. Often deliberately annoys people
5. Often blames others for his or her mistakes or misbehavior
6. Is often touchy or easily annoyed by others
7. Is often angry and resentful
8. Is often spiteful and vindictive

ODD is the most common problem in children. Problems usually begin
between ages 1-3. ODD is more common in boys than girls before
puberty, but is equally divided in both males and females after puberty.

·        Children with ODD are destructive and disagreeable by nature
·        They like to push their parents' anger-buttons
·        Every request results in a power struggle
·        Lying is a daily habit, and stealing is a favorite hobby
·        Getting others to react strongly pleases and amuses them
·        They blame others for their mistakes and misbehavior
·        And they have no remorse for the hurtful things they say and do

Many families of defiant children live in a home that has become a
battleground. In the beginning, the daily struggles can be expected.
After all, we knew that problems would occur. Initially, stress can be
so subtle that we lose sight of a war, which others do not realize is
occurring. We honestly believe that we can work through the problems.
Outbursts, rages, and strife become a way of life (an emotionally
unhealthy way of life). We set aside our own needs and focus on the
needs of our children. But what does it cost us?

The majority of the population does not understand the dynamics of
parenting an ODD child. Family and friends may think that you -- the
parent -- are the one with the problem. Families are frequently turned
in on false abuse allegations. Support is non-existent, because outsiders
can't even begin to imagine that children can be so destructive. Where
does that leave a parent?

Without strong support and understanding, the parent will become
isolated, demoralized, hurt, confused, and often held accountable for
the actions of her/his child.

Families are simply not prepared for the profound anger that lives in
the heart and soul of our ODD children. They see us - the parents - as
the enemy. Small expectations on our part can set our children off in
ways that are not only indescribable, but also often unbelievable.

Your home becomes a war-zone and you feel totally inadequate.
You begin to question your parenting abilities -- and your own sanity.
Your heart's desire is to provide your child with untold opportunities,
a future, and all the love in the world. You want to soothe your child.
You want your child to have a fulfilling childhood and to grow up to be
a responsible adult. Yet, you are met with hatred and fierce anger.

In war, the battle lines are drawn; an antagonism exists between two
enemies. In our homes, we are not drawing battle lines; we are not
prepared for war. We are prepared for parenting. Consequently, the
ongoing stress can result in disastrous effects on our well-being, literally
causing our emotional and physical health to deteriorate.

In parenting a child with ODD, you will not escape adverse effects.
It is essential to recognize that your feelings are typical under stressful
conditions. It is just as essential to accept the fact that extensive stress
is unhealthy. By recognizing the symptoms and seeking support, you
will strengthen your abilities to cope.

The strains an ODD child puts on your family can be enormous.

Effects on the family of an ODD child:

• An ODD child will play one parent off the other which could result in a
rift between parents.

• Dreams of the perfect, loving, caring family are squashed. There is no
such thing as perfect family, but an ODD family can become quite

• Due to the child’s disruptive behavior, parents often withdraw from
social functions.

• Family events, like Christmas, can be filled with anger and frustration
due to ODD behavior.

• Parents appear to be unfair, strict and sometimes hostile, as parenting
skills used with healthy children do not work with ODD children.

• Siblings and pets can often be targeted and threatened.

• Siblings often feel ignored or overlooked as the ODD child takes up so
much of the parent’s time.

ODD kids are
not bad -- but they are very intense.  And they seek
intensity from others as well -- especially their parents!  

Unfortunately, they have discovered that their parents are the most
intense and exciting when
things are going wrong.  What parents
may have viewed as punishment for their ODD child was actually a
reward (i.e., the child received a bigger payoff for misbehavior).