Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD)



Oppositional behavior is a normal part of the pre-teen and adolescent stage.  However, extremely uncooperative and hostile behaviors on a consistent basis become a serious concern when it affects all areas of the child’s social life, including the family.

An ongoing pattern of resistance to authority figures interferes with the teen and family’s everyday life and may severely impact their future.

Symptoms of ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder) would include:

  1. Refusal to comply with adult rules or requests
  2. Questioning (defying) rules and authority
  3. Arguing with adults/authority figures
  4. Temper tantrums, damaging things in the household
  5. Being deliberately annoying and in your face
  6. Blame-shifting, lying, fighting with peers
  7. Easily and instantly upset or annoyed by others
  8. Vengeful/mean/calculating

defiantteenSymptoms appear more frequently at home but are seen in public settings as well.  Greater than five percent of adolescents may have ODD.   The causes of ODD are unknown and begin to be noticed by parents at an early age, especially when there are other siblings in the home.  Biological, psychological, and other environmental or social factors may have a role.

ODD may sometimes by accompanied by other disorders such as ADD/ADHD, which can make ODD even more exasperating for parents.  The coexisting disorders should be treated along with the ODD.  If left untreated, the child may go on to develop more severe conduct disorders.  Parents should have a comprehensive evaluation to determine the best method of treating the presenting disorder and to determine if there are other factors.

At Wolf Creek Academy, we address issues such as ODD by a variety of psychological methods including: psychological testing, medication (prescribed by their psychiatrist), Individual Psychotherapy, and Family Psychotherapy (to help parents improve communication and resolve family conflicts in a more effective way).  Social skills are taught the adolescent to increase flexibility and frustration tolerance with others, as well as feedback to help the teen understand how they are impacting others (they often don’t know it — they just know they are frustrated all the time).

Although proper diagnosis and medication are extremely helpful in managing the disorder of ODD, the role of parents is extremely important as well, so parents are given support and counsel to help their child in various ways while they are in our program and at home.

Tips for Parenting the Teenager with Oppositional Defiance Disorder:

For the oppositionally defiant teen, choose your battles and deal with one issue at a time.  If you send them to their room or take away a privilege for a period of time, don’t pile on by adding extra time for arguing about going.  Understand that they have a hard time avoiding a power struggle.  If you see that you are becoming frustrated, take a break or a time-out before you proceed to make things worse.  This will also model a good example for your child.  Allow your child the same opportunity to take a time-out as well if they are beginning to become angry in order to avoid a major conflict.

Set reasonable, age-appropriate, consequences and limits.  Month-long groundings prove to be difficult to enforce and are rarely successful.  Only set limits that you can enforce and reasonably live with.

Provide positive reinforcement and try to elaborate on the positives instead of always pointing out the negatives.  Give praise when they show cooperation or flexibility.  Understand that they will struggle (and lash back) with a critical approach.

Be certain to take care of your own health by proper nutrition and exercise and give yourself breaks away from the home as needed.  If things should become increasingly difficult to continue a normal family life, you may need to consider whether the adolescent may need more care than what can be provided in the home.

Many parents seeking help for their child often wait until things have become so difficult that the family has split and they even fear for their own safety and the safety of the other children in the household.  Some wait until the teen does something illegal or violent to another person, and then it is too late. It is in those situations that they find themselves possibly making hasty decisions that may not be the best for the adolescent or the family in the long run.  When serious defiance surfaces in a teen, and counseling does not help, a full-time therapeutic environment may be necessary for the child’s future.

If you find that you are at your wits end and are doing all that you know to do and need help, seek residential treatment for your child before he or she ends up in serious trouble.


Wolf Creek is a therapeutic boarding school that works with defiant teenagers, boys and girls age 13 to 17. For over 20 years, our highly trained professional counselors have provided behavior therapy including: anger management, oppositional defiance disorder (ODD), and respect for authority.

We can help your defiant and angry teen. We have a limited number of placements available for teens with ODD and other defiance and anger issues. Call for more information today!

Call Us Toll Free: (877)477-9653

Email: info@wolfcreekacademy.org

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