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Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)

Hi, My 2 year old son was diagnosed yesterday by a psychologist as having Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). Anyone with the same problem? Thanks for your help!

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H Everyone! thank you so much for your answers and advice! The psychologist we've met this week, who said our son had ODD never recommended medication (he couldn't even if he wanted, he's a psychologist and not a doctor). We are seeing him again tomorrow, I'll tell you how it went. I think I may want a second opinion, and someone mentionned Early Intervention, I think I am going to contact them. Our son is aggressive sometimes (he sometimes bites or hits) but it's only occasional. The main reason why we decided to get some help is that he started refusing to sleep without one of us being in his room. That wasn't the case until a few months ago. When we let him cry he can stay awake calling us and crying until 1:30 am! I was so exhausted that I gave up and ended up putting a mattress in his bedroom and spending my nights with him. During the day, he's clinging to me, he wants me to focus on him exclusively all day long, and gets aggressive or extremely cranky when I don't. He totally lacks independance for his age, for example he refuses to eat by himself most of the time, he doesn't play by himself more than 2 mn...I don't know if ODD is the correct name for all this, what matters most if what the psychologist is going to advise to help us fix this. I'll tell you more after tomorrow's appointment! Anyway, thanks a lot for your support! C.

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All the advise on this page is sound. All 2 year olds are ODD they are just learning. They have to be taught right from wrong. I hav e2 sons who were dignosed with ODD they are 11 and 13 but none were at teh age of 2.

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What? I'm no psychologist, but I thought you couldn't diagnose a 2 year old with a disorder like this--it just seems very young. Most two year olds are defiant and oppositional by nature!

I just cannot believe that a two year old was just given a psychiatric diagnosis like that. Your case must be VERY extreme to warrent this. Often this is treated by medication and behavioral therapy. Are you willing to medicate a two year old? I know that I wouldn't.

I'm sorry this might come across negatively, but I'm just in shock. I would find an excellent children's specialist to begin behavioral therapy. And not just for your son, but whole family too. I imagine you'll need help with behavior charting and managment.

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I agree with everyone else - unless he's had testing and observation, I would be very suspicious. And I say this from experience - I met a psychiatrist and a psychologist who both were dead wrong about my child (different diagnoses, but both wrong.) And 2 seems awfully young.

I took my son to Dr. Michael Appleby at Loyola dept. of neuropsychology for a half-day of testing and evaluation. (he ends up having AD/HD and sensory integration disorder, but it wasn't totally obvious when he was 4. When kids are young, disorders can manifest themselves in all sorts of weird ways. now, he's textbook but then? I had no idea what was up with him. He's doing fine now, though.)

If there is any possibility of sensory issues, contact a pediatric occupational therapist. [note - a psychologist may not come up with this because it's not an official DMS-V disorder.) You would be surprised at how not-obvious it is what is causing the behaviors. With my son, he would totally get out of control when around loud noises or stimulating environments, but it took a long time to make the connection. Other kids could have other triggers.

Good luck! I'm not sure what got you to this point, but I know how stressful it can be to not know and to worry and wonder what will happen. It will get better as you learn and start to understand what's going on, I promise you. This is a very hard time that you are in right now.

1 mom found this helpful

I am counselor as well, and I agree that 2 is very young for ODD. On the other hand I have worked with managed care and know the pressure to make a diagnosis so that they can bill your insurance. Often ODD is used to categorize all aggressive behaviors because insurance will cover the diagnosis. I would ask the psychologist point blank if he wasn't going to bill your insurance what would his diagnosis be. Or if you were paying out of pocket. I would think for 2 years old he would use an adjustment disorder (not able to be billed to insurance) or tell you that he wouldn't want to diagnose a child at 2 years old. Good for you for seeking out help, just be aware that the pressure to treat and get paid by insurance is very tricky for psychologists, and usually people aren't willing to pay for counseling services out of their pocket.

GET A SECOND DOCTOR TO ADDRESS THIS. I have worked with kids who are ODD, and I HAVE NEVER HEARD OF A 2 YEAR old with ODD. The drugs they use for it are STRONG. I think you should call someone at Children's hospital and tell them to see a doctor there, one that has experience with Children! I have never heard of a 2 year old at a psychologist unless they have gone through something traumatic. I have a two year old and 6 month old daughter too, and he does things that I think oh my god what are you doing, but he is only two. I wouldn't ever put my two year old on drugs for ODD.

I have never heard of a 2 year old being taken to a psychologist. I see you have a 6 month old daughter too, isn't it just sibling jealousy? My son was a little over 2 when my daughter was born and he was difficult at first with tantrums and such, but eventually grew out of it, definately not enough to go to a psychologist.

Not trying to bash, this really just seems extreme?


I know NOTHING about ODD or psychological issues similar to it, but want to tell you that seeking help is the best thing you can do, no matter what! The earlier you can be assisted with intervetion, the better the outcome, I have always felt. You have the right mindset in that no matter what the label they put on it, you need help!

I personally started with an early intervention team to evaluate my son's speech and behaviorial issues from an educational perspective. I had suspicions about autisim and with a team of 4 evaluators he was diagnosed with a sever expressive language delay, no autisim. We have a therapist come into our home 1 hour per week to work with him, as well as give me ideas for what I can do to help encourage his speech.

In my opinion if you have concerns, get help! At this early of an age, he may just need some extra nurturing which the psychologist can help you manage. You may also want to turn to an early intervention team in addidtion to the psychologist you are seeing to see if your son would qualify for additional services (OT, speech, etc).

Good luck, and remember you are doing this for your son to succeed!

I am a therapist and diagnosing a 2 year old with ODD seems a bit extreme in my opinion. Usually, it has a childhood or adolescent onset, not infant onset. He may be exibiting signs or behaviors of ODD, but to actually diagnose him that seems a bit much. I would wonder why he used that label for him? Again, just my opinion though...

I think with most diagnosis a second opinion is always a good option. I am sure this diagnosis was difficult to hear and am sorry. My only advice is reading 1,2,3 Magic by Thomas W. Phelan, Ph.D. The author specifically discusses ODD and Conduct disorder. The program is also designed for children ages 2-12 so it would be a perfect time to start. It is easy, doesn't have a lot of steps, and helps with parent self control.

I am in no way trying to be disrespectful. I have a 4 year old and 2 year old. It just sounds like typical 2 year old behavior to me. I just don't believe psychological intervention is necessary. Just firm parenting and sticking to your guns is what is necessary. He will grow out of it. Good luck with everything.

Who diagnosed your son? I would get a second opinion. I think 2 is WAY to young to get that diagnosis! I beleive that a psychologist is the only person who can make that diagnosis! Do some research and think about a second opinion!


I have to agree with the other posters that this seems young to have such an extreme diagnosis. Also, it could be sensory in nature. Have you tried to get a referral to Early Intervention for an evaluation by an occupational therapist. If they see something, they may also refer you for a medical diagnosis by a team of people - including a developmental pediatrician, child psychologist, occupational therapist, physical therapist and speech pathologist. We did this when my son was acting out of control at 2 1/2 (he too had a 6 month old sister). I knew that I needed help with his extreme behavior and tantrums. He was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder and Separation Anxiety. Through occupational therapy and developmental therapy there has been a tremendous turnaround. No medication was necessary - look into it. For a second opinion you may try the Pediatric Development Center at Illinois Masonic Medical Center. I know several people, besides myself that have used them for a diagnosis procedure. Good Luck, and hang in there.

Hi C.,

As a former Director for an early learning center, I have seen many 2 year olds who have displayed the same behavior that you have described your son as having. At this stage 2 year olds are testing limits, they are teating their caregiver to see just how far they can go before their is a consequence. Unfortunately the behavior of biting for a two year old is normal (not nice or appropriate, but normal) the reason being they are not yet capable of clearly expressing their feeling or capable of managing anger, so when they become frustrated they will bite. It is our jobs as adults to figure out a way to correct or redirect that negative behavior. It is extremely difficult, some 2 year olds adjust a lot better than others, some require more discpline, guidance, and limit setting than others, but it is quite concerning that a therapist would be quick to slap a label on a two year from what you described.
We had a mental health consultant to work with our agency to observe children whom we felt needed additional support and in the rare case that there was a 2 or 3 year old we were concerned about he would visit that child on 2 or 3 different occassions, interact with the child and also interview the family to see if there had been any abrubt changes in the child's life. So I think there are a lot of factors that need to be considered before diagnosing or labeling a baby in that manner. I hope you are able to get a second opinion and I wish you well.
I am a mother of an independent and VERY vocal 5 year old, and a very oppositional (his favorite word right now is NO)20 month old (he is so different from my oldest son, I am terrified of when he actually make 2...as if it will make a huge difference from the way he is acting now!)

Good Luck!

All the advise on this page is sound. All 2 year olds are ODD they are just learning. They have to be taught right from wrong. I hav e2 sons who were dignosed with ODD they are 11 and 13 but none were at teh age of 2.

Oppositional defiant disorder is a type of disruptive behavior problem in children but it can be treated. Firstly, you need a health expert who can better suggests you for a better treatment. According to research, no single way to treat it. Medication, psycho therapy and you can use behavior modification to treat it.

I am also a counselor and agree with the referral to Children's. Most psychologists/psychiatrists will only refer you to them for further treatment anyway. The only cases I have seen that were thought to be ODD involved violent behavior. Don't know if you are having that in the home. Those cases, however, turned out to be forms of Autism. Two years olds are naturally defiant because they are learning to express themselves, although defiant and violent are two different issues. I also recommend talking with your pediatrician. Chances are, he will refer you to Children's as well.

Have to agree with all the pp posters....

This sounds like very normal behavior for a 2 year old that has a sibling that he needs to share mom with....

Biting is common at this age due to the lack of good communication skills.

I think bringing a mattress into your room is a great idea. We personally bed share with both our kids which solves any issues of being upset with being alone and lets us ALL sleep!

Of COURSE he doesn't want to be alone at night. Think about how scary that would feel to someone who is so little and whose life has just changed drastically....

Sounds like you are being a good mom. I would be VERY hesitant to go to a psychologist for something like this.... especially one that is putting labels on very age-appropriate behavior-- even if this behavior is difficult at the time.

Remember the mommy mantra-- This too shall pass.

Now, I'm not saying that pychiatric care is never warranted in a young child. If he were trying to injure the baby or himself or any other living thing-- I'd be concerned.... but not this!

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