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Disruptive Behaviors: What is Oppositional Defiant Disorder?

Oppositional defiant disorder is a pattern of angry/irritable moods, argumentative/defiant behavior or vindictiveness lasting at least six months as evidenced by at least four present symptoms.


  • Angry/Irritable Mood
    Loses temper, easily annoyed, angry or resentful.
  • Argumentative/ Defiant Behavior
    Argues with adults, refuses to obey adults’ commands, deliberately annoys others, and/or blames others for own mistakes or misbehavior.
  • Vindictiveness
    Has been spiteful or vindictive at least two times in the past six months. The disturbance in behavior is associated with distress in the individual or others closely associated with the individual and impacts negatively on overall functioning.

    The behaviors do not occur exclusively during the course of a psychotic, substance use, depressive or bipolar disorder.


  • Mild
    Symptoms are present in one setting.
  • Moderate
    Symptoms are present in at least two settings.
  • Severe
    Symptoms are present in three or more settings.

What is a Conduct Disorder?What is a Conduct Disorder?

A conduct disorder is a repetitive and persistent pattern of behavior in which the basic rights of others or major age-appropriate societal norms or rules are violated. At least three of the following symptoms are present in the past 12 months, with at least one present in the past six months: 


  • Aggression to People and Animals

    The individual:

    • Bullies, threatens or intimidates others often
    • Initiates physical fights
    • Has used a weapon that can cause serious physical harm to others
    • Has been physically cruel to people
    • Has been physically cruel to animals
    • Has stolen while confronting a victim (examples: mugging, purse snatching, armed robbery)
    • Has forced someone into sexual activity
  • Destruction of Property

    The individual:

    • Has deliberately set fires with intention of causing serious damage
    • Has deliberately destroyed others’ property (other than by fire)
  • Deceitfulness or Theft

    The individual:

    • Has broken into someone else’s home, building or car
    • Often lies to obtain goods or favors or to avoid obligations
    • Has stolen items of nontrivial value without confronting a victim (example: shoplifting, forgery)
  • Serious Violations of Rules

    The individual:

    • Often stays out at night despite parental prohibitions, beginning before age 13 years
    • Has run away from home overnight at least twice while living with parents or caregiver
    • Is often truant from school, beginning before age 13
The conduct disorder causes clinically significant impairment in overall functioning. If the individual is age 18 years or older, criteria are not met for antisocial personality disorder.