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Bad Attitude or ODD Disorder?


No parent of a teenager can escape the occasional friendly fire of their child’s bad attitude. For most young people (and to the chagrin of parents everywhere), rebellious, defiant behavior is as normal as acne or peer pressure. However, if this behavior is new or sudden, becomes more serious or entrenched, or if it seems to be going on longer than a normal phase of adolescence, your teen may be edging into ODD territory.

ODD is Oppositional Defiant Disorder, a serious behavioral condition for teenagers that can derail family relationships and school performance. Knowing the signs of ODD is a useful start in determining if your child may be headed for trouble:

  • Hostility, including with teachers, parents, family, and friends
  • Pessimistic feelings, such as always taking a negative view (“I’ll never learn how to do this.”)
  • Defiance, such as disregard for rules and authority
  • Being argumentative, including critical and nit-picky behavior
  • Bullying or other aggressive tendencies
  • Anger or tantrums, including seemingly unprovoked angry outbursts and becoming easily frustrated
  • Resentful, which can include jealousy or envy of what others have
  • Unusually petty behaviors, such as stinginess or tattling

ODD is seen as a constellation of symptoms and behaviors, and not every teenager with ODD will display all of these signs. The disorder usually appears between ages 6 and 14, with one or two signs showing up at home, leaking out later to public places or in school. Students with ODD are a constant source of classroom disruption, so this defiant behavior can jeopardize the teen’s chances at academic success in the future, not to mention relationships with peers, teachers, and family.

Unfortunately, ODD rarely goes away on its own, and it usually gets worse over time. But virtually every ODD case can be treated; options include behavior modification, talk therapy, medications, and programs outside the home, including outdoor and wilderness programs. Most therapists will recommend a combination of these options.

A teenager whose ODD persists despite treatment may have a more serious condition called Conduct Disorder (CD), which can lead to criminal behavior, bullying, and other forms of violence.

Further reading:

To learn more, including tips for parents, visit the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry’s page on ODD.

Authored By: Posted in Bad Attitude, Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)

Any health information contained herein is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace discussions with a health practitioner. RECOVERYWEB.ORG does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Only a qualified medical professional or healthcare practitioner can diagnose and/or treat struggling youth and troubled teen behaviors including adhd, add, angry teens, at risk youth, defiant teens, bipolar disorders, panic attacks, conduct disorders, anxiety disorders, depression, and other disorders, behaviors, addictions and / or diseases.

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