Challenging Opposition Disorder (TOD) in Children: Causes and Symptoms

the to challenge the disruption of the opposition (TOD) is a dysfunctional pattern of disobedient, provocative and hostile behavior towards authority figures that some boys and girls present.

Sometimes, expressions such as “child emperors” or “child emperor syndrome” are also used to refer to this type of behavior in childhood.

Causes of the challenge of the opposition disorder

It is a disorder whose incidence is higher in boys than in girls. Several surveys have revealed that difficult opposition disorder affects 20% of children aged 5 to 10. However, psychologists and educational pedagogues agree that this figure could be a bit exaggerated due to different biases when evaluating this type of behavior and comparing it with that of a behavior of the child. child considered normal.

Difficult Opposition Disorder usually starts around age 8, but depending on the case, it can even begin at age 4 to 5. We often notice that it is dysfunctional behavior caused by a combination of biological, psychological and environmental factors.


  • The child does not obey the orders of adults
  • Anger and resentment towards others
  • Tendency to argue with adults
  • Blame others for their own mistakes and mistakes
  • Poor relationship with his peers: he has few or no friends because they move away from him
  • He’s in trouble at school
  • Little tolerance for frustration

  • a bit of patience
  • He usually takes revenge if he considers that he has received an offense
  • He is very sensitive

To find out if a child has difficult opposition disorder, you will need to repeat your behavior pattern for at least 6 months, taking into account at least half of the symptoms described above, And clearly transgress the boundaries of habitual childhood misconduct.

The set of behaviors should differ considerably from other children of similar ages and the same level of cognitive development. The behavior should cause significant problems in the school environment or in their interpersonal relationships.

Detection and diagnosis

Children with symptoms consistent with TOD should be evaluated by a psychiatrist or psychologist.

Whether children or adolescents, certain psychopathologies can cause symptoms and behaviors very similar to those of Difficult Opposition Disorder, And therefore must be taken into account:

  • Anxiety disorders

  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

  • bipolar disorder

  • Cyclothymia

  • depression

  • Learning disorders

  • Drug addiction (obviously much more common in adolescents than in children)

Therapy and treatment

Who can best assess and plan an effective treatment for such cases is a qualified mental health professional, expert in individual therapy and developmental disorders and families. For their part, parents should also learn a number of guidelines and tips for managing and improving a child’s behavior.

There are also some medications that can be given in cases where TOD is the result of another underlying psychopathology, such as depression or childhood psychosis. Anyway, pharmacological treatment should always be the last resortAs psychological and family therapy reports good levels of effectiveness in correcting this disorder.

Expectations and possible complications

Psychological therapy can have a good effect in most cases, but there are cases of particularly problematic children with a more established pattern of behavior. Children with difficult opposition disorder they can grow in adolescence and adulthood leading to behavioral disturbances.

In some cases, the child with TOD may develop an antisocial personality disorder as an adult.

In order to treat the disorder as quickly as possible so that the prognosis is favorable, see your doctor, psychologist or psychiatrist if you have any doubts that your child is adopting behavioral patterns specific to DOD.

Prevent difficult opposition disorder

As parents, we need to be consistent in setting rules and limits for our kids at home. In addition, punishments equivalent to the mischief of the child must be applied; we should never be too harsh or contradictory with rewards or punishments.

Children mainly learn by imitation. This means that parents, as the primary referents for children, serve as a mirror for the development of certain patterns of behavior. Therefore, we have to be careful. And of course, it is important to avoid emotional abuse or rejection as this could be a trigger for the onset of this disorder.

  • as well it is important to encourage the child to enjoy good self-esteem to prevent such inappropriate behavior from occurring. To this end, we recommend that you read the following article: “10 strategies to improve your child’s self-esteem”

Some articles that can help you educate your child properly

If you still have five minutes to read, we recommend that you take a look at these articles that will be given to you. some keys to preventing TOD and getting your child to learn adaptive behavior patterns.

  • “The 8 basic tips for not spoiling your child”

  • “Caring for difficult children: 7 practical tips”

  • “Tips for Feeding Your Children with Emotional Intelligence”

Bibliographical references:

  • Aitchison, J. (1992). The articulated mammal. Introduction to psycholinguistics. Madrid: Editorial alliance.
  • Well, M .; Mirror, B .; Rodriguez, F. and Toro, S. (2000). Blind boys and girls.
  • Pérez Pereira, M. (1995). New perspectives in developmental psychology. A critical historical approach. Madrid: Editorial alliance.
  • Pinker, S. (2001). The instinct of language. Madrid: Editorial alliance.
  • Villuendas, Mª.D. and Gros López, A. (coords.) (2003). Gender relations in psychology and education. Madrid: Ministry of Education. Community of Madrid.

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