Oppositional Defiant Disorder

Oppositional Defiant Disorder

The other day he was starting to rage
…I took a loud, deep breath and said “We need to go back to blue.” He did it. He stopped, put the bowl down, and started breathing. Usually it takes being physically held for him to come out of a moment like that.
— Mother of 11 year old boy

What is ODD?

Definition of ODD:

Oppositional defiant disorder [ODD] is a condition in which children display “frequent and persistent pattern of anger, irritability, arguing, defiance or vindictiveness toward you and other authority figures.” The condition must be diagnosed by a medical professional and often coexists with other disorders such as ADHD, anxiety, etc.
Source: Mayo Clinic


+ Mild

+ Moderate

+ Severe


+ Irritable moods

+ Defiant behavior

+ Aggression

+ Outbursts

+ Increased problems at home and school


+ Therapy

+ Medication (for those with coexisting disorders)

How do I know if my
child has ODD?

Children with oppositional defiant disorder tend to be emotionally and physically sensitive and extremely reactive. People experience kids with ODD as angry, argumentative, and frequently and intentionally in conflict with everyone around them, including parents and other loved ones. You may notice signs of ODD in your kid, or you may hear about your kid’s ODD behaviors from teachers or other authority figures. Here is a short article from ADDitude magazine on what ODD looks like in children.

Mightier & Oppositional Defiant Disorder

Mightier & ODD

Mightier’s biofeedback games were developed & tested at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. You can learn more about our initial clinical trials & research on our Science page.

Today, we do not collect diagnosis information about children and families using Mightier at home. Families do sometimes share symptom information and through this data, we can see that many children with symptoms common in ODD use and find success with Mightier.

Do kids with ODD use Mightier?
Of approximately 8,500 players who joined Mightier between Spring 2018 and Fall 2019, 72% of their parents or caregivers reported that they struggled with outbursts, 69% with anger, and 48% with aggression. Rates for these types of challenges were higher among boys than girls.
Will my child with ODD get frustrated with Mightier?
Parents frequently worry that their child’s anger may get in the way of enjoyment of Mightier. Mightier contains controlled moments of frustration, and for children who tend to get angry easily, there is a fear that they may refuse to engage with Mightier or break Mightier equipment. Fortunately, we have found that not to be the case.

Of players with ODD-consistent symptoms, over 70% of players who started playing Mightier in the past 18 months have played for at least an hour. The percentage of players struggling with anger, aggression, and outbursts who have played Mightier for at least one hour is about the same as the percentage with more than an hour of play in the overall player population.

What skills will my child with ODD learn from Mightier?
We have also heard from parents that Mightier is helping. Over three-quarters of parents (76.5%) who have answered our player follow-up surveys have reported that they are seeing improvements in their Mightier players’ overall emotional regulation. Among players with outbursts, anger, and aggression, the rates of parent-observed improvement are similar, with over 76% of parents whose children struggled with aggression at the start of Mightier reporting emotional regulation improvement, and emotional regulation improvements reported by nearly 4 out of 5 parents whose children struggled with anger (79.1% improved) and outbursts (79.8% improved).

Living with Oppositional Defiant Disorder

Living with ODD

Living with a child with ODD is difficult. As their parent or caregiver, you may feel frustrated, stressed, and helpless. Fortunately, by implementing clear rules and consequences, you can regain control. By educating yourself about the condition and learning how to spot the signs your child is about to act out, you’ll be well-prepared to deal with their behavior.

Mightier families & Oppositional Defiant Disorder

Stephanie is a mother of 10—four biological children and six from her husband’s previous relationship. Eight of these children live with her full time. When she was first getting to know her stepchildren, she quickly learned that they struggled with emotional regulation. Every BIG emotion they felt—happiness, frustration, excitement—led to a meltdown or what she describes as an “abnormal” response.

Clinicians had diagnosed her blended brood with a range of conditions, including attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), reactive attachment disorder (RAD), and oppositional defiant disorder (ODD). Years in therapy with her daughter, who suffers from RAD, had provided her with tools to help her kids create loving bonds and name their emotional states (“sad,” “mad,” “happy,” “afraid”). Still, with so many kids under one roof, she and her husband had their hands more than full.

During Stephanie’s search, she heard about Mightier from a mom in a Facebook group for parents of kids with trauma. This woman had started using Mightier with her kids and was cautiously optimistic about the results. One day, Stephanie found herself at her wit’s end. Even with the tight ship she ran at home—strict after-school and evening schedules for all the kids, including time carved out for homework, reading, and free play—each new day brought another tantrum or disruptive outbursts at school. The behavior of her two boys with ODD, 7-year-old Sam and 12-year-old Miles, was particularly upsetting and draining. She describes the progress that Miles and Sam have made with Mightier in just a few short months as a “miracle.”

Sam’s story

Sam, a 7-year-old, has a milder form of ODD than his older brother. Read more…

Miles' story

Before Mightier, the word that Stephanie heard most often from her son, Miles, was “no.” Read more…


Read our article in PsychCentral on why an ODD diagnosis doesn’t make your child “bad”

Read our featured article in Parentology on why ODD can often make parents feel like it’s their fault.

Read our featured article on Parenting on how a lot of parents can mistake O.D.D. symptoms as bad behavior.