What Causes Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) In Children?


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Yes, it is normal for children to be confrontational, stubborn, and difficult at times. Even children with the best of temperaments can throw a tantrum once in a while.

But for some children, the usual tantrums become all consuming. Are you tired of your child’s mood swings? Is her aggressiveness creating trouble at school? Then she might suffer from Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). Read on to know more about what is odd in children and more!

What Is Oppositional Defiant Disorder In Chidren?

Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) is a psychological condition in which your child or teen may display a defiant, angry, vindictive, irritable, and argumentative behavior toward you or other figures of authority (1).

What Causes Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) In Children?

Some of the factors that can lead to ODD include:

1. Genetics:

Our genes make us who we are. For some children, their mental makeup makes them prone to ODD.

2. Environment:

Nature and nurture – these two

factors mold our personality. A child’s environment too can trigger ODD. Your parenting style can have a huge impact on your child’s behavior too. Children in families where there is emotional abuse, substance abuse, lack of discipline, etc. are more likely to develop ODD.

[ Read: Conduct Disorder In Children ]

Symptoms Of ODD In Children:

It can be extremely difficult to differentiate between a strong-willed child and a child with ODD. Do you think that your child has ODD? Check out here odd symptoms in children:

  • Loses her temper easily.
  • Is irritable most of the time.
  • Is argumentative, even without a genuine reason.
  • Tends to be defiant and does not follow rules.
  • Does not accept her mistakes.

It is also possible that your child shows all these signs and yet not have ODD. But if she is persistently following this behavioral pattern, it makes sense to consult an expert.

[ Read: Common Behavioral Problems In Children ]

Kinds Of Oppositional Defiant Disorder:

ODD can come in different forms, depending on its severity.

1. Mild:

If your child shows symptoms only in some particular setting, like just at home, or at school, she is more likely to have a mild case of ODD.

2. Moderate:

Does your child get into trouble both at school and home? Then, she may have a more serious case of Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Doctors classify such cases as moderate.

3. Severe:

In severe cases of ODD, children display their behavioral symptoms everywhere.

[ Read: Symptoms Of ADHD In Kids ]

When To See A Doctor:

It is difficult to diagnose ODD and even more difficult to make your child understand that she needs help! So be your child’s advocate and see a doctor. Don’t doubt your parenting skills before you have a talk with a counselor.

If your child’s behavior is causing more than just some embarrassment, it may be time to seek expert help.

Some of the problems that warrant a trip to the doctor include:

  • Poor academic performance
  • Antisocial behavior
  • Problem controlling impulsive behavior
  • Suicidal tendencies
  • Symptoms of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

If your child suffers from any of these mental issues, treating them can help improve the symptoms of ODD. And vice versa is also true – if you fail to treat these conditions, treating ODD may turn out to be an uphill task.

[ Read: Ways To Deal With Aggressive Behavior In Children ]

How Is ODD Diagnosed?

It is important to get a quick diagnosis when it comes to ODD. But that is easier said than done! Many times, you may ignore your child’s episodes of ODD as her routine temper tantrums. But if you do take your child for a diagnosis, your health care provider will need to do a thorough psychological evaluation of her mind. Some of the points he might analyze include:

  • Your child’s medical history and health condition.
  • The frequency and extent of your child’s ‘temper’ episodes.
  • Your child’s behavior with different relations.
  • Other disorders your child may be suffering from including learning or communication.

[ Read: Tips To Handle Kids Temper Tantrums ]


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