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Difference between Conduct Disorder and Oppositional Defiant Disorder

Difference between Conduct Disorder and Oppositional Defiant Disorder

Conduct Disorder (CD) and Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) are two common childhood disorders that are often confused since the symptoms can overlap. CD is much more serious than ODD, and it’s essential to understand the subtle nuances between the two diagnoses in order to accurately identify CD and develop an effective treatment plan to help children reach their full potential. In this blog post, we will explore what distinguishes these two disorder diagnoses from one another so you can make well-informed choices about your child’s mental health care.

What is Conduct Disorder?

  • Conduct Disorder is a disorder primarily characterized by consistently disobedient, aggressive, and/or destructive behavior that violates the rights of others. Conduct Disorder is more commonly seen in adolescence and can have devastating effects on a person’s social, academic, and work accomplishments.
  • Intense patterns of Conduct Disorder may lead to serious legal issues over time. Common signs of Conduct Disorder include blatant disregard for rules or laws, destruction of property, cruelty or violence against people or animals, lying or stealing, and early sexual activity.
  • If left untreated Conduct Disorder may worsen with time leading to further negative consequences. It is important to identify Conduct Disorder as early as possible so that appropriate treatment can be provided and help manage symptoms before they cause serious damage in relationships, school, and potentially even criminal behaviour.

What is Oppositional Defiant Disorder?

  • Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) is a behavioral disorder that is most commonly seen in children and adolescents. It manifests itself through a pattern of disobedient, defiant, and hostile behavior against authority figures such as parents, teachers, or other adults.
  • ODD can interfere with success in school, regular activities like chores or hobbies, and social relationships while contributing to emotional distress and negative self-esteem. It can be extremely difficult to manage for the individual suffering from it and their loved ones alike.
  • While there is no known cause of Oppositional Defiant Disorder, it is known that early diagnosis and treatment with behavioural modification techniques like positive reinforcement can lead to improved quality of life for those affected.

Difference between Conduct Disorder and Oppositional Defiant Disorder

Conduct Disorder and Oppositional Defiant Disorder are two behavioral disorders that involve disruption of social norms and can impact an individual’s development.

  • Conduct Disorder involves behaviors that involve aggression, violence, rule-breaking, and stealing. A child or adult might also show a lack of empathy or remorse for their actions.
  • In comparison, Oppositional Defiant Disorder is characterized by ongoing negative and defiant behavior toward authority figures such as parents, teachers, or law enforcement officers.
  • This often includes verbal arguing, temper tantrums, and intentional disobedience although physical aggression is not typical. Therefore, while Conduct Disorder involves more serious and violent behaviors, Oppositional Defiant disorder typically presents as low-level misbehavior.

If left untreated both Conduct Disorder and Oppositional Defiant Disorder can have negative consequences into adulthood, so early intervention and support are key.


It’s important to be able to distinguish between the two disorders because they require different types of treatment. If you think your child may have either disorder, it’s important to seek professional help. A trained mental health professional can give you a diagnosis and develop a treatment plan tailored to your child’s needs.

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