ODD Signs, Symptoms & Effects In Children

Understanding the signs, symptoms, and effects of ODD is an important part of the effort to get treatment for a child or adolescent. At Little Creek Behavioral Health in Conway, Arkansas, we’re proud to be a source of information and comprehensive care for young people ages 12-18 who have been struggling with ODD and other mental health conditions.

Understanding ODD

Learn about ODD

Oppositional defiant disorder, also known as ODDis a mental health condition that causes behavioral and emotional changes in children and adolescents. Young people struggling with ODD can experience hostile moods and display behaviors such as defiance and rule-breaking. Adolescents living with ODD typically believe these behaviors are rational responses to their unreasonable circumstances, such as parenting styles they disagree with. 

Children often exhibit behavioral symptoms of ODD in one environment they are familiar with, such as their home. While these behaviors are typically exhibited in one setting, children struggling with thicondition often experience significantly impaired social functioning across settings. A mental health professional will assess how a child behaves in each setting to accurately determine the impact this condition has on development and overall functioning. 

A diagnosis of ODD should be made with consideration for a child’s age, cultural background, and gender, as these factors impact the formation of a child’s typical behavior. Children who are living with ODD have an increased chance of developing conduct disorder as they enter adolescence and young adulthood. 

Due to the impact this condition can have on a young person’s life, children or adolescents suffering from oppositional defiant disorder require comprehensive care to address a range of behavioral and mental symptoms. 


Statistics about ODD

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) has gathered the following information on oppositional defiant disorder in the United States: 

  • About 3.3% of children and adolescents are living with oppositional defiant disorder. 
  • ODD appears to be more prevalent in male children than in female children. 
  • Oppositional defiant disorder is diagnosed equally among female adolescents and male adolescents. 

Causes & Risk Factors

Causes and risk factors for ODD

Risk factors for developing oppositional defiant disorder are based on genetics, environment, and personality. While there is no guarantee that a child who possesses these risk factors will be diagnosed with this mental health conditionthese elements may increase their chances of experiencing ODD: 

  • High emotional reactivity 
  • Low tolerance for stress and frustration 
  • Inconsistent parenting styles 
  • Frequent changes within the home environment 
  • A family history omental health conditions 

Signs & Symptoms

Symptoms of ODD

A child or adolescent facing ODD may display behavioral and mental health symptoms that have an impact on various areas of their lives. It is not uncommon for some children to primarily display behavioral symptoms of ODD and exhibit very few emotional symptoms. Each child may present differently and experience various symptoms of ODD depending on their circumstances: 

Behavioral symptoms: 

  • Often argues with authority figures, such as family and teachers 
  • Disobeys rules or requests from authority figures 
  • Places blame on others for their own actions 
  • Purposely irritates or provokes others 
  • Acts out of spite and revenge 

Mental symptoms: 

  • Short-tempered and easily annoyed  
  • Resentful toward others 
  • Belief that they are constantly being mistreated 


Effects of ODD

The behaviors associated with oppositional defiant disorder have the potential to cause significant distress to your child and those around them. If your child is living with untreated ODD, they may experience adverse outcomes at home, school, and in the community. These can include: 

  • Withdrawal from social situations 
  • Substance use 
  • Emotional distress due to arguments with others 
  • Injury to self or others resulting from tantrums 
  • Difficulty establishing or maintaining interpersonal relationships 
  • Poor academic performance 
  • Criminal charges due to misconduct 

While the effects of this condition can be significant, there is no guarantee that your child will be negatively impacted. The best way to prevent these outcomes is to ensure that your child receives the care they need to manage the symptoms of ODD. Comprehensive mental health programming can help a young person heal from this condition and improve their well-being. 

Co-Occurring Disorders

Common co-occurring disorders among children and adolescents who have ODD

Young people suffering from oppositional defiant disorder may be living with other mental health conditions. If any of these conditions are left untreated, they have the potential to impact the care your child receives for ODD. Children or adolescents living with ODD may experience the following mental health conditions: 

  • Conduct disorder 
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) 
  • Anxiety disorders 
  • Depression 
  • Substance use disorders 

Children and adolescents living with ODD need comprehensive care that is tailored to the unique developmental needs of young peopleLittle Creek Behavioral Health provides personalized mental health programming to improve the quality of life and well-being of each child who comes to us for care. 

Marks of Quality Care
  • The Joint Commission (JCAHO) Gold Seal of Approval