ADHD and ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder)

Characteristics of Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)

Children with oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) can present as noncompliant, aggressive, easily frustrated, irresponsible and just plain angry for no obvious reason. The chaos that is created in classrooms, homes and communities when they are present in the ODD state is measurable in its effect on the adults, peers and community members’ acting out behavior that appears aligned with the frequency and degree of the child’s ODD actions. Additional characteristics of ODD behavior can include the following:

  • Refusal to comply with adult directions and basic instructions. For example, if parents ask a child with ODD to take out the trash, the response could be an outright refusal, a temper tantrum, severe angry outbursts that could result in kicking over the garbage can.
  • Increased levels of frustration and testing adult limits. Children with ODD can exhibit increased levels of being annoyed and frustrated at even the simplest task. They will test adult limits by pushing them to an equal level of frustration and anger.
  • Lack of accountability. By not taking responsibility for their actions, children with ODD can easily place the blame elsewhere and blame others for their mistakes or noncompliant behavior.
  • Defying rules and expectations. In the classroom, having children refuse to comply with the classroom rules and expectations can create classroom chaos with other students wanting to follow suit in behavior.
  • Increased anger levels. Having children with ODD burst out in anger in the middle of a teacher’s instruction can create a instructional melt-down for the teacher and a learning melt-down for the other students, including the child with ODD.
  • Demanding and inflexibility in actions. A child with ODD can stop a parent from even getting to the grocery store. By demanding that the parent complete a task prior to leaving the home or once in the car demanding that a parent stop at the park can put the brakes on getting things done during the day for parents with schedules that have to be met in running an effective household. For teachers, having a child refuse to leave the classroom for recess and demand to be allowed to stay in the classroom alone without supervision can stop their planning period plans if they allow themselves to be caught in the child’s demands and actually adhere to them.
  • Negative verbal outbursts. When children with ODD get mad, they can get even with those around them. They can make negative comments to peers, adults and teachers in ways that are mean-spirited and harsh. Their actions may cross the lines into disciplinary action in the classroom.

Children with ODD and ADHD

According to Dr. Anthony Kane’s article, "Oppositional Defiant Disorder Treatment" at, there are two theories to what causes ODD, "the developmental theory suggests that children get stuck in the 2-3 year old stage of child defiance and never grow out of it (pg. 2) and the learning theory that suggests that ODD develops as a response to negativity interactions of adult redirection of children for disobedient behavior" (pg. 2). Dr. Kane notes that parents aren’t to blame for children developing ODD due to discipline techniques that work effectively with other siblings in the household.

Dr. Kane further notes that ODD is not a secular disorder and provides the following risk factors that include children with ADD and ADHD:

  • 50-65% of ODD children also have ADD and ADHD.
  • 35% of ODD children develop some form of affective disorder.
  • 20% of ODD children have some form of mood disorder such as Bipolar disorder or anxiety.
  • 15% develop some form of personality disorder
  • Many ODD children have learning disorders ( pg. 3).

Dr. Kane’s research into ODD and its impact on children with ADHD continues to provide a wealth of information for parents, teachers and community members who interact with children who present both ODD and ADHD disorders.


Kane, A. M.D. "Oppositional Defiant Disorder Treatment." Retrieved from the Internet, October 25, 2009, pp. 1-6.