Oppositional defiant disorder is described by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) as an ongoing pattern of disobedient, hostile and defiant behavior toward authority figures which goes beyond the bounds of normal childhood behavior.
Children who have it may appear to be very stubborn, negative and non-compliant. According to the DSM-IV the manifestations of oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) involve outbursts of temper; arguing; defying and deliberately annoying others and blaming others for their own mistakes; being angry, touchy and spiteful. It is differentiated from conduct disorder in that there are no violations of the basic rights of others or of major societal norms and rules (e.g. aggressiveness, theft, persistent lying).

While it is true that the majority of CD cases are preceded by ODD, it should be noted that the majority of ODD children DO NOT go on to develop CD (about 50% continue to be diagnosed as ODD, while 25% outgrow the disturbance).

There is also some overlap between ODD and attention-deficit disorder as ADHD increased the risk of early onset of ODD .  ODD is more common in boys than in girls in early childhood, but this relationship is reversed in adolescence. Some research has found evidence that ODD declines in frequency during middle childhood, but increases again in the adolescent period.