Home » Online Therapy » Child psychologist » Defiance syndrome

Children who show defiant, hostile and negative behavior towards adults and other children over a long period of time may have defiant disorder. Here we explain what it is and how to get help.

What is defiant disorder?

Defiant disorder, also known as Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), is a behavioral disorder usually diagnosed in childhood. Children with ODD exhibit a pattern of defiant, hostile and negative behavior towards adults and other children over an extended period of time. This behavior is different from children’s normal behaviors of testing limits and is more intense and frequent.

What are the symptoms of defiance syndrome?

The symptoms of defiant disorder can vary from child to child but often include a pattern of negativistic, defiant and hostile behavior. Here are some common symptoms:

  • Frequent tantrums: The child often has intense outbursts of anger and frustration.
  • Arguing with adults: The child often questions adult rules or instructions and is prone to arguing.
  • Deliberately annoying behavior: The child often seems to deliberately try to annoy others.
  • Defyingrules and instructions: The child refuses to follow rules or ignores adult requests and instructions.
  • Blaming others: The child tends to blame others for their mistakes or bad behavior.
  • Easily irritated: The child is easily irritated by others.
  • Frequently angry or resentful: The child seems to be angry or resentful much of the time.
  • Revengeful: The child may be vindictive or preoccupied with thoughts of revenge.

These symptoms must be present for at least six months for a diagnosis to be made. It is important to note that all children may exhibit some of these behaviors at different times, but for children with OTB, these behaviors are more intense and frequent, significantly affecting their daily functioning and social relationships.

What set our therapist apart was her genuine empathy and personal insight. Not only did she possess a deep understanding of neurodiversity, but she also shared personal experiences that resonated with us, creating an instant connection and fostering a sense of trust!

Benedetta Osarenk


Our counsellors

Click here to view all psychologists, therapists, and coaches.

Defiance syndrome at different ages

OCD affects children and adolescents differently depending on their age. In young children, OCD can manifest itself as intense anger and resistance to routines. As children reach primary school age, the symptoms become more pronounced, with direct challenges to rules and difficulties in social settings. In school age, these behaviours can lead to academic and social problems, while adolescence can mean increased risky behaviour and conflicts with authority figures. Early intervention with strategies such as parent education and behavioral therapy is essential for management, with the goal of supporting the child’s development and promoting positive social interactions. Collaboration between family, school and professionals is central to effectively supporting children with defiant disorder.

Defiant disorder and neuropsychiatric problems

ASD can often co-exist with other neuropsychiatric conditions such as ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). These diagnoses can amplify each other’s symptoms and make treatment more complex. For example, the impulsivity of ADHD may be intensified by the defiant behaviors, while communication difficulties in ASD may express themselves as defiance syndrome.

Integrated treatment plans that combine behavioral therapy, medical treatment and personalised support are essential to manage these complex cases. To provide effective treatment and support for children with ASD and co-occurring neuropsychiatric conditions, parent education and family therapy play a central role.


Book a meeting

Fill in the form, choose a counsellor and proceed to payment.


Treatment of defiant disorder

Treatment for ODD focuses on improving the child’s social skills, emotional regulation, and reducing challenging behaviors. This is achieved through a combination of treatment methods. Behavioral therapy and parenting support play a central role, with parents learning effective strategies to manage behavioral problems at home. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is used to help the child identify and change negative thought patterns, while social skills training focuses on developing adequate ways to interact with others.

Family therapy is important for improving communication within the family and resolving conflicts, thus strengthening the parent-child relationship. School-based interventions, including adjustments to the school environment and individual support, support the child’s learning and social interaction. Although there is no specific medication for defiant disorder, medication can be considered to manage concurrent symptoms related to conditions such as ADHD.

A multimodal treatment approach, combining these methods, is often recommended to address defiant disorder. It involves close collaboration between the family, school staff and health professionals to create an individualised treatment plan. Early intervention is important to reduce ODD and support the child’s development over time.


Why Lavendla?

USP 1

Lorem ipsum

USP 2

Lorem ipsum

USP 3

Lorem ipsum


12 frequently asked questions about defiant disorder

What is defiant disorder?

Defiant disorder, also known as Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), is a behavioral disorder usually diagnosed in childhood. Children with ODD exhibit a pattern of defiant, hostile and negative behavior towards adults and other children over an extended period of time.

What are the symptoms of defiant disorder?

Defiant disorder is a behavioral disorder identified in childhood, characterised by persistent defiance, hostility and negative behavior towards authority figures, which differs from normal behavior in its intensity and duration. Symptoms include anger outbursts, argumentation, defiance of rules and a tendency to annoy others, requiring the behaviors to last for at least six months for diagnosis.

How does defiant disorder differ at different ages?

In young children, defiant disorder can manifest as intense anger and resistance to routines. As children reach preschool age, the symptoms become more pronounced, with direct challenges to rules and difficulties in social settings. In school age, these behaviours can lead to academic and social problems, while adolescence can mean increased risky behaviour and conflicts with authority figures.

How does defiant disorder manifest itself in ADHD?

The diagnosis can amplify symptoms, for example, the impulsivity of ADHD can be intensified by the defiant behaviors,

How does defiant disorder manifest itself in autism?

In autism, for example, you may have communication difficulties that can be expressed as defiant behavior.

How can defiant disorder be treated?

Treatment of defiant disorder focuses on improving the child’s social skills, emotional regulation, and reducing challenging behaviors. This is achieved through a combination of treatment methods.

What is CBT?

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based therapy that helps individuals identify and challenge negative thought patterns and behaviors that contribute to ill health.

How long is a treatment?

Treatment is tailored to the nature of the child’s or parent’s problem. It can be anything from a few sessions to a longer treatment over a couple of years.

What is a child psychologist?

A child psychologist is a licensed professional with knowledge and experience in working for the well-being and mental health of children and parents.

What does a child psychologist do?

Child psychologists offer therapy and counseling, but also work with families in parental support and the whole family when needed. They also work with schools to create good conditions for the child.

Can I see a child psychologist online?

It is possible to have an online treatment via video. We have several child psychologists who work digitally at Lavendla.

Where can I turn if I or my child needs help from a child psychologist?

Depending on how old your child is, you can turn to different services, and you can also get help through parental counseling. At Lavendla, we have experienced child psychologists who can also help.

How does treatment with a child psychologist work?

Seeking help from a psychologist or therapist is an important step when a child is experiencing mental health difficulties or if you are having difficulties as a parent. Here is a brief overview of what treatment can look like:

First step: Initial consultation where the psychologist assesses needs through discussions with the child and parents.

Treatment plan: An individualised plan is developed, based on your specific situation and needs.

Types of therapy: Treatment method is adapted to the situation and may include play therapy for younger children, as well as talk therapy and CBT for older children, which focuses on changing negative thought patterns and behaviors. Other methods such as family therapy can also be helpful.

Parental counseling: Parents receive guidance and support to better help their child at home.

Monitoring and adjustment: The treatment plan is continuously evaluated and adjusted as needed to ensure the best possible outcome.

Working with a psychologist can give you and your child the tools they need to manage their emotions and behaviors in a healthy way. At Lavendla, we have psychologists and therapists who can help make the difficult easier.

Lavendla – Making the difficult easier

Written by Ellen Lindgren

Licensed psychologist

Ellen is a licensed psychologist and has experience mainly in clinical psychology where she has worked with various conditions such as stress, anxiety, depression, insomnia, crises and trauma in primary care and psychiatry. She has also worked with research while studying in the US and with affective disorders and insomnia at Karolinska Institutet, Sweden.