What Are the Symptoms of Oppositional Defiant Disorder?

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  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 28 September 2019
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Oppositional defiant disorder is a behavioral disorder that may be found in children or adolescents. Typical symptoms include persistent disobedience, negativity, and hostility, especially toward those in authority. In addition, young people with this disorder often blame others for their bad behavior, annoy and aggravate other people intentionally, and show aggression toward their peers. Since it may be difficult to differentiate between normal childhood temper tantrums and this behavioral issue, people with questions or concerns about potential symptoms of oppositional defiant disorder should discuss them with a doctor or other medical professional.

Temper tantrums, hostility, anger, and stubbornness can be normal behaviors in children, especially toddlers. In order to be diagnosed with this behavioral disorder, symptoms must exist for at least six months and be diagnosed as being more severe than what is considered normal for the particular age of the child. If oppositional defiant disorder is suspected by the child's pediatrician, a referral to a psychiatrist may be issued so the child can undergo more intense evaluation.

Academic problems are common symptoms of oppositional defiant disorder. This is likely due to an unwillingness to follow orders or accept any kind of instruction from anyone in authority. School-age children with this disorder may consistently argue or pick fights with peers, making it difficult to maintain any type of friendship.


Frequent temper tantrums are among the most commonly seen symptoms of oppositional defiant disorder. During these tantrums, the child may seem completely out of control, frequently destroying property or attempting to harm others. An aversion to being touched or becoming easily annoyed over small issues are also potential symptoms. An inability or unwillingness to accept responsibility for bad behavior, instead blaming everything on others, is another prime example of what may occur with this disorder.

Children who are diagnosed with oppositional defiance disorder frequently end up being diagnosed with other medical or psychological conditions as well. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, is commonly found to be an issue in these children. Depression and anxiety seem to go along with this condition, perhaps due to a feeling of helplessness. A combination of prescription medications as well as psychological therapy or counseling may help to control the majority of the symptoms. Some areas may have a local support group for families who are learning to cope with caring for a child with this behavioral disorder.


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