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What is oppositional defiant disorder in children?

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Quick Answer

Oppositional defiant disorder is a pattern of behavior that includes irritability, anger, vindictiveness toward authority, defiance and frequent arguing by children, according to Mayo Clinic. A child's temperament based on genetics or problems within the home environment may contribute to the disorder.

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Full Answer

Neurobiological differences often determine a child's personality and disposition, notes Mayo Clinic. Therefore, genetics can play a role in oppositional defiant disorder when brain functions and nerves dictate aggressive or angry behavior. Environmental factors such as abuse, neglect, harsh or inconsistent discipline and a lack of supervision can also cause a child to develop oppositional defiant disorder.

Children with oppositional defiant disorder may excessively argue with adults or authority figures, refuse to comply with rules or requests, blame others for mistakes, develop a pattern of temper tantrums, seek revenge or display spiteful behavior and lash out with anger and resentment, according to WebMD. Children may also deliberately try to upset or annoy others or use obscene language as a means to show defiance.

Most children with oppositional defiant disorder can manage the illness through therapy and skill training to manage anger and outbursts, explains Mayo Clinic. In severe cases, some children may exhibit symptoms of other mental health conditions and medication may be recommended by a psychotherapist.

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