The typical symptoms of Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) in children are excessive negativity, refusal to obey orders, and temper tantrums. Children who have ODD may also go out of their way to be bothersome to other people. In many cases, children with this disorder are not able to make friends or keep relationships with existing friends for very long. They may be argumentative with parents and teachers, and generally seem as though they are unhappy with life. Most children with ODD try to find ways to blame everything that goes wrong on someone else and may act in a hostile or spiteful manner more than the average child would.
A child has to be diagnosed with ODD by a psychiatrist. Most psychiatrists base their diagnosis on whether or not the child has displayed behavior symptoms of ODD for a period of six months or more. Additionally, the symptoms must be causing significant problems in the child's home or school life before ODD can be considered the cause. It is usually very difficult for most psychiatrists to determine whether or not a child has ODD because the symptoms tend to be similar to other behavioral disorders, such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). In some cases, children with ODD also have ADHD.
Treating ODD may involve several counseling sessions that include both the child and his family. The counseling sessions for ODD are usually more effective when the child's family is present. ODD can put a huge strain on the relationships between family members, and participating in counseling sessions and workshops together with a psychiatrist could help to mend fences. Medications are also occasionally prescribed to help with the child's symptoms of ODD, such as daily mood swings.
Parents may be able to better deal with symptoms of ODD by using positive parenting techniques. Making an effort to accentuate the positive rather than the negative in all dealings with the child in question tends to be effective for many parents. It may also be a good idea for parents to avoid conflict with their child as often as possible and take time outs when it looks like the child is determined to make an issue out of something. Psychiatrists usually advise setting clear, set rules and boundaries that are enforced no matter what when the child acts out. Parents of children with symptoms of ODD may also need to set aside time every week just for themselves so they can take a break and recharge when things become too stressful.