ODD: Diagnosis

For a child to be diagnosed with ODD he must have a pattern of disruptive behavior including at least four symptoms from the following categories:

Angry/Irritable Mood

  • Often loses temper
  • Is often touchy or easily annoyed
  • Is often angry and resentful

Argumentative/Defiant Behavior

  • Often argues with adults
  • Often actively defies or refuses to comply with requests from authority figures or with rules
  • Often deliberately annoys others
  • Often blames others for his mistakes or misbehavior


  • Has been spiteful or vindictive at least twice within the past 6 months

In order to be diagnosed with ODD a child must have had a pattern of behavior problems lasting at least six months and involving at least one individual who is not a sibling.

Clinicians will evaluate the frequency, intensity and duration of a child’s symptoms, as well as the impairment caused by them, when making a diagnosis. This will involve taking a detailed history of the child’s behaviors in various situations. Since children with ODD may show symptoms only in one setting — usually at home — and are more likely to be defiant in interactions with adults and peers they know well, the symptoms may not be in evidence in the clinician’s office.

ODD is typically diagnosed around elementary school ages.