Signs & Symptoms of ODD in Children
Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) isn’t just being strong willed or argumentative. It is normal for kids to argue sometimes and say no to things that adults want them to do; adolescents are wired to seek more freedom and autonomy. However, children with ODD take these behaviors to an unhealthy extreme that may require treatment. Knowing the signs and symptoms of ODD is crucial to determining if you may need to seek professional help or if your kid is just going through a difficult phase.
Hostility Toward Authority
Children with oppositional defiant disorder are unusually hostile toward authority. They frequently question and refuse to follow rules, and will argue with people in positions of authority. They may have more problems in a particular environment, such as at school or at home, or may be equally hostile toward authority in any environment. They are more likely than other children to throw temper tantrums when they are not allowed to do as they please.
ODD is often marked by angry and abusive behavior. ODD students will swear and say extremely nasty and hurtful things when they are angry. They are more likely to seek revenge for perceived wrongs than others. Although they are easily irritated and upset by others, they actively provoke other people into anger. They are volatile and may become angry for little or no discernible reason. They are likely to blame others for their actions.
The causes of ODD are not completely understood, and there appear to be a number of contributing factors. Children with ODD may have abnormal brain biology with imbalances in natural neurotransmitters. ODD also seems to be genetic as children are more likely to develop the condition if a family member has a mental disorder. The environment a child is raised in can also affect her risk for ODD; children with harsh or inconsistent discipline, dysfunctional, abusive or neglectful families, or children with parents who have substance abuse problems are more likely to develop ODD. Complicated family issues such as constant moving or divorce also increase a child’s risk for ODD.
Disorders Associated with ODD
Children with ODD are likely to suffer other disorders and conditions. They frequently suffer from low self-esteem. These children may also have mood disorders such as chronic anxiety or depression, or may abuse alcohol or other drugs. Many children with ODD have learning disabilities such as dyslexia or attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Children with ODD who remain untreated can develop conduct disorder, a more serious condition that can lead to criminal activity.