Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD)

What is Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD)?

Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD) is a childhood behavioral problem characterized by constant disobedience and hostility.

What are the common features of Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD)?

The characteristics of ODD usually appear when a child is in primary school and may include the following behaviours:

Is easily annoyed or angered.

Has frequent temper tantrums.

Argues frequently with adults, particularly their parents.

Refuses to obey rules.

Appears to deliberately annoy or aggravate others.

Has low self-esteem.

Has a low frustration threshold.

Seeks to blame others for any misconduct.

Common difficulties often (but not always) experienced by the child with Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD):

Poor social interactions.

Difficulties complying with rules and expectations.

Easily angered.

Struggles to take responsibility for their own actions.

Management strategies that support the child with Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD) (at preschool, school and/or home):

Parental training: Helps parents to better manage and interact with their child. Parents are taught how to best apply behavioural techniques that reinforce good behaviour and discourage bad behavior.

Functional family therapy: Teaches all family members how to problem solve and communicate more effectively with one another.


Consistency of care: All people involved in the care (including grandparents and educational staff in a child care, kindergarten and/or school setting) of the child need to be consistent in the way they behave and manage the child.


Social stories to develop an understanding about expectations in certain social situations.

Managing other areas of concern that may be causing the child to display poor behaviour (e.g. difficulties understanding expectations, difficulties with reading and writing, difficulties expressing themselves and getting their message across).

Occupational Therapy approaches and activities that can support the child with Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD) and/or their carers include:

Expand abilities: Developing a gradually broadening range of skill areas.

Social stories: Providing ideas and education around social story development.

School transition: Advocating and professionally supporting the transition to school and liaising with teachers, as required.

Visual cues can be used to support routine and to introduce new, or a change in tasks.

Gross and fine motor skills: Determining the current age level of a child’s gross and fine motor abilities.

Devise goals: Set functional and achievable goals in collaboration with the child, parents and teachers so that therapy has a common focus beneficial to everyone involved.

Educating parents, carers, teachers and others involved in the child’s care about ODD and the age appropriate skills a child should be demonstrating.

Direct skill teaching through a task based approach.

Strategies: Providing management strategies/ideas to assist the child in the home, at school and in the community.

Task engagement: Providing alternative ways to encourage task engagement.

Developing Underlying skills necessary to support whole body (gross motor) and hand dexterity (fine motor) skills, such as providing activities to support:

balance and coordination

strength and endurance

attention and alertness

body awareness

movement planning.

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