Oppositional Defiant Disorder is the most common among Behavioral Disorders. It typically involves an ongoing pattern of disobedient, hostile, and defiant behavior toward most or all authority figures. Bullying among peers may also be noted. Although considered more common in boys than in girls, many young girls struggle with this disorder. The identifying behaviors are typically noted by age 8, but they may start as early as the preschool years. Traditionally, this disorder has been thought to be caused by a combination of biological, psychological, and social factors.


  • Actively does not follow adults’ requests
  • Angry and resentful of others
  • Argues with adults
  • Blames others for own mistakes
  • Has few or no friends or has lost friends
  • Is in constant trouble in school
  • Loses temper
  • Spiteful or seeks revenge
  • Touchy or easily annoyed

Does my child have Oppositional Defiant Disorder?

In order to meet the criteria for oppositional defiant disorder, the pattern of misbehavior must last for at least 6 months and must be more severe than normal childhood misbehavior.

The pattern of misbehaviors associated with oppositional defiant disorder are significantly different from those of other children around the same age and developmental level. All children misbehave and test boundaries. However, with ODD, these behaviors lead to significant problems in school, home, and/or social activities.

Children who are suspected as having oppositional defiant disorder should be evaluated by a professional. One aspect of assessment is determine if there are other issues which might be causing or intensifying symptoms. In children and adolescents, the following conditions can cause similar behavior problems and should be considered as possibilities or co-morbid conditions:

Traditional Treatment:

The brain is the most complex organ in the body. Research has shown there are specific markers in the brain that are indicative of oppositional defiant disorder. Medication can be used to address some of the associated symptoms with ODD, as it chemically alters brain waves, but medication often causes severe side effects. Because medication doesn’t permanently alter the brain waves, the behaviors return when medication is removed.

Also, counseling can teach healthier response patterns, but it cannot change the brain waves; thus, prognosis has been quite dismal for oppositional defiant disorder. The physiological aspect of this condition is out of the child’s control. Unfortunately, the prognosis is shaky, and there has been little hope offered for these children and their families!

Research the disorder, and the following statistics are samples of what you will find:

  • “Untreated, about 52% of these children will still meet the DSM-IV criteria for the disorder up to three years later. About half of those will progress into conduct disorder.”
  • “Some children respond well to treatment, while others do not.”
  • “Occasionally, children grow out of the condition, while others …
    • Develop other coinciding conditions
    • Develop conduct disorder after 3-4 years
    • Become adults with antisocial personality disorder”

This news is not promising for families struggling with this disorder! However, there is hope for these children and families!

Neurofeedback Treatment:

Oppositional Defiant Disorder and the possible related conditions are actually neurological in nature. Neurofeedback is a very effective form of treatment that actually rebalances the brain waves to relieve symptoms and help the child gain control of his/her behavior. The neurofeedback therapist starts with a brain map (qEEG) to identify patterns of brain waves which are commonly found in children struggling with ODD. Additionally, the qEEG reveals any co-existing conditions which may exasperate this disorder.

Once the qEEG is analyzed, the child with oppositional defiant disorder undergoes neurofeedback therapy to correct the brain wave patterns which are causing the symptoms. Neurofeedback is very effective in greatly reducing or eliminating symptoms in many health conditions and behavior disorders, including oppositional defiant disorder. Additionally, this treatment effectively addresses the possible co-existing conditions that may have caused or exasperate this disorder.

During the course of treatment, as brain waves are  being influenced toward a healthier pattern, the child with this disorder begins to gain more control over his/her behavior. This is where counseling for the child and family is very important! An integrated approach to healing is the most effective form of treatment.

Brain Changers embraces the goal to help families struggling with ODD to find increased hope and healing. Through neurofeedback therapy, the brain heals and the child gains an increased ability to control his or her responses and behaviors. In counseling sessions, unhealthy behavior patterns are identified and addressed, and healthier options are established and practiced. Through family counseling, parents and children learn healthier ways to communicate and interact. These children begin to feel empowered to make healthy choices, and we consistently witness families become hopeful, happier, and more peaceful.

With the ongoing promising results of neurofeedback therapy utilized in conjunction with counseling, ODD children and families continue to realize the hope that healing is not only possible, but it is expected!

Call today to see how we can help!