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ODD is a personality disorder that is most likely to be found in children and adolescents. It involves disrespect, rebellion, and aggression toward parents, peers, and other authority figures. Early diagnosis and management of ODD are important to prevent severe behavioral problems. Therefore, this blog describes an evidence-based oppositional defiant disorder treatment plan.

We believe that one intervention is not enough to provide permanent relief from the condition. Thus, we will discuss everything from cognitive-behavioral therapy and parent management training to social skills training and medication.

Read ahead to learn how all these strategies can improve your way of living or that of your loved ones.

What is Oppositional Defiant Disorder?

ODD is characterized by a persistent pattern of negative, defiant, and antisocial behavior towards authority figures.

Children with ODD can get angry easily. They argue a lot with adults and do not listen to directions or orders given to them. They may act out to provoke people and frequently lash out and accuse other people of being the cause of their actions or problems.

This behavior usually negatively impacts the child in the home, academic institutions, and within social circles and hampers the child’s interactions with others.

Additionally, the effects of ODD are not limited to the affected children only. Parents and other siblings may also feel overwhelmed and irritated by the daily fighting and opposition.

How to Diagnose Oppositional Defiant Disorder?

A mental health professional diagnoses ODD. The assessment most often comprises clinical interviews, behavioral observation, and the analysis of the child’s developmental and health records.

According to the DSM-5, ODD can be diagnosed if the following criteria are met,

“The child or adolescent’s symptoms include angry/irritable mood, argumentative/combative behavior, or vindictiveness for at least six months.”

Since this is a behavioral disorder, the early diagnosis ensures that proper measures are taken to ensure that the child does not advance to more severe mental disorders like conduct disorder or anxiety disorders.

It is also important to pinpoint the difference between ODD and other related disorders, such as ADHD or mood disorders, to properly address the child’s needs.

Critical Elements of an Oppositional Defiant Disorder Treatment Plan

The treatment of Oppositional Defiant Disorder is comprehensive and should be developed based on the child’s needs. This approach usually encompasses several treatments and strategies to target different areas of the child’s behavior and circumstances.

These are behavior therapy, cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), parent management training (PMT), social skills training, and, on some occasions, medication. Parents, teachers, and healthcare providers need to work together to provide a consistent and conducive environment.

Such a plan can help reduce symptoms, improve the child’s behavior, and increase the overall quality of life for the child and family.

Behavioral Therapy

Behavioral therapy is the main type of treatment for ODD. It aims to change negative behavior and encourage positive behavior. This therapy includes strategies such as positive reinforcement, rewarding desirable behavior to encourage its repetition, and consistent consequences for negative behavior to discourage it.

Another form of behavioral therapy for children is Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT), which teaches parents to interact positively with their children, set behavior guidelines, and manage punishment.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Another form of treatment that is also useful in treating ODD is known as Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT is based on the idea that their thoughts determine an individual’s behavior. Therefore, this approach aims to alter the negative thinking.

At the core of CBT, children are helped to identify and dispute negative thoughts, build coping strategies, and manage their emotions. This kind of therapy enables children to see how they are connected between their thinking, emotions, and actions and thus be able to change for the better.

Parent Management Training (PMT)

Parent Management Training, or PMT, is another essential part of the treatment plan for ODD. It focuses on the parents’ role in facilitating the change in the child’s behaviors. PMT helps parents learn good communication skills, discipline methods, and strategies to control children’s behaviors.

As a result, parents can effectively manage their children’s behavior and establish an environment where there is less likelihood of arguments and more likelihood of compliance. PMT also plays a vital role in enhancing the parents’ skills in nurturing the emotional and social aspects of the child, thus creating a better and healthier environment in the family.

Social Skills Training

Social skills training is important for children with ODD, as they have difficulties in social interactions. This aspect of treatment aims to help children learn how to behave around other children and people in the community, and the techniques used include dramatization and group counseling.

This approach helps children acquire and consolidate desirable social skills by sharing, cooperating, and solving problems during social interactions in a safe environment.

Social skills are how individuals interact with other people daily; thus, improved social skills will enhance peer relationships, confidence, and positive school experiences. This aspect of treatment assists children with ODD in developing critical life skills that benefit the child’s growth and development.


Medication is used in the management of ODD only when the child’s behavior and other psychological interventions have failed to produce the required outcome. 

Medications can improve the child’s ability to focus, decrease hyperactivity, and increase the child’s ability to manage emotions, allowing the child to participate more readily in therapy and respond to behavioral interventions.

School-Based Interventions

Schools are also involved in managing children with ODD. Some effective school-based interventions include organizing and providing structure and routine in the class, developing IEPs, and providing extra support through school counselors and special education services.

Building a Support System

The child with ODD and their family need a lot of support to help them cope with the symptoms of the child. Several support groups, educational workshops, and online communities provide information and a community for parents. These resources offer helpful information, encouragement, and tips for dealing with ODD, thus relieving families’ sense of isolation and giving them more tools for coping.

Contact us today if you or your loved one needs help in dealing with ODD.

Herny Kaggwa
Written and reviewed by: Herny Kaggwa
PMHNP-BC, APRN. Clinical Director
Assured Hope Community Health. LLC
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