ODD is a pattern of disobedient, hostile, and defiant behavior toward authority figures. This disorder is more common in males than in females. Some studies have shown that it affects 20% of school-age kids. However, most experts believe this figure is high due to changing definitions of normal childhood behavior, and possible racial, cultural, and gender biases. This behavior typically starts by age 8, but it may start as early as the preschool years. This disorder is thought to be caused by a combination of biological, psychological, and social factors.
• Touchy or easily annoyed
• Spiteful or seeks revenge
• Loses temper
• Is in constant trouble in school
• Has few or no friends or has lost friends
• Blames others for own mistakes
• Argues with adults
• Angry and resentful of others
• Actively does not follow adults' requests
To fit this diagnosis, the pattern must last for at least 6 months and must be more than normal childhood misbehavior. The pattern of behaviors must be different from those of other kids around the same age and developmental level. The behavior must lead to significant problems in school or social activities.
Kids with symptoms of this disorder should be evaluated by a psychiatrist or psychologist. In kids and teens, the following conditions can cause similar behavior problems and should be considered as possibilities:
• Substance abuse disorders
• Learning disorders
• Bipolar disorder
• Attention-deficit /hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
• Anxiety disorders
The best treatment for the youngster is to talk with a mental health professional in individual and possibly family therapy. Moms and dads should also learn how to manage the youngster's behavior. Medications may also be helpful, especially if the behaviors occur as part of another condition (e.g., depression, childhood psychosis, ADHD). Some kids respond well to treatment, while others do not. In many cases, kids with ODD grow up to have conduct disorder as teens or adults. In some cases kids may grow up to have antisocial personality disorder.
Call your health care provider if you have concerns about your youngster's development or behavior. Be consistent about rules and consequences at home. Don't make punishments too harsh or inconsistent. Model the right behaviors for your youngster. Abuse and neglect increase the chances that this condition will occur.
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