Oppositional Defiant Disorder

Oppositional defiant disorder can affect a child’s relationships with family and friends and his or her performance in school. It is one of the most commonly diagnosed mental health conditions in children.

Remarkable Care for Kids

  • Both traditional and innovative treatments: Rush’s Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Program team members have extensive expertise in both traditional therapies and innovative treatments for emotional and behavioral problems in children.
  • Specialized clinic for preschoolers: For children age 6 and under, Rush’s Toddlers Infants Preschoolers Clinic (TIPS) provides comprehensive developmental and psychiatric assessment and treatment services tailored especially for preschoolers. Early intervention can help prevent more serious problems later in your child’s life.
  • Access to medical center resources: Because Rush is a large medical center with many resources, additional specialists are readily available to lend their expertise if your child is found to have other conditions that need treatment, such as a neurological condition or learning disability.

What is oppositional defiant disorder?

Oppositional defiant disorder is a behavioral condition in which a child or adolescent has an ongoing pattern of angry, disobedient and defiant behavior toward parents and other authority figures.

This disorder often first appears during a child’s preschool years, but can be difficult to distinguish from developmentally appropriate behavior like the “terrible twos.”

Some conditions can cause behavior problems similar to oppositional defiant disorder, including the following:

  • Anxiety disorder
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Depression
  • Learning disabilities
  • Addiction or substance abuse
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Symptoms of oppositional defiant disorder

Symptoms may include the following:

  • Anger and resentment of others
  • Uncontrollable temper
  • Arguing with adults and defying their requests
  • Refusing to follow rules
  • Blaming other people for mistakes or bad behavior
  • Annoying other people on purpose
  • Being touchy and easily annoyed
  • Seeking revenge on others
  • Lack of friends
  • Frequent discipline problems at school

Care for oppositional defiant disorder at Rush

Children who show symptoms of oppositional defiant disorder for six months or longer should be evaluated by a psychiatrist or psychologist. Treatment is important, because children who have this disorder and are not treated are at high risk of developing personality disorders as adults.

Customized treatment plan

The Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Program at Rush brings together a team of psychiatrists, psychologists and clinical social workers with special training in child psychiatry and family therapy. Your child’s team will collaborate to create a treatment plan that’s customized to his or her level of emotional and intellectual maturity. These plans use a variety of approaches:

  • Treatment focused on your child to help him or her learn ways to manage anger and handle social situations to minimize frustration. This might include the following:
    • Cognitive behavioral therapy that teaches problem-solving skills
    • Psychodynamic therapy that explores how unconscious emotions influence behavior
    • Medication, if appropriate
  • Treatment that includes your family to help you communicate better with each other and use discipline effectively
  • Treatment that involves your child’s school, provided by the Rush Educational and Emotional Health Evaluation Program for Children and Adolescents, to help your child reach his or her full potential at school