Preschool classroom. Concerned that your kindergartner is acting like a spiteful brat? In the Journal of Economic Psychology, the researchers describe their study of five- and six-year-olds enrolled in institutional daycare in Berlin. After their mothers filled out a detailed questionnaire describing their personality traits, the kids took tests determining their cognitive skills. The children then played a simple game in which they allocated a form of currency—images of suns—to another youngster they did not know. This suggests that—in line with evolutionary theory—a deeply rooted survival-of-the-strongest mentality kicks in quite early for highly intelligent kids—especially boys.
Could your child be showing signs of this defiance disorder? An oppositional, defiant child will often lose his temper, argue with adults, actively defy requests or rules set by adults, deliberately annoy people, and blame others for misbehavior. He will engage in angry, violent, and disruptive conduct directed at the adults in his life — parents, teacher, physicians, and other authority figures. And he may seem to feel most comfortable in the midst of a conflict, which is upsetting and exhausting for everyone involved — even the child himself. The symptoms of ODD may look different for girls and boys, in whom the condition is more common. Boys with ODD tend to be more physically aggressive and have explosions of anger while girls often lie, refuse to cooperate, and otherwise express symptoms in indirect ways. ODD is usually diagnosed in early childhood; some patients outgrow the condition by age eight or nine.
Being aggressive and lacking empathy might have a lot to do with it, researchers say. The researchers also had the participants complete a bunch of personality tests to gauge how aggressive or agreeable they were. The results show that some people's personalities do make them more prone to spiteful behavior.
Even the most mild-mannered children have occasional outbursts of frustration and disobedience. But a persistent pattern of anger, defiance, and vindictiveness against authority figures could be a sign of oppositional defiant disorder ODD. ODD is a behavioral disorder that results in defiance and anger against authority. ODD affects between 1 and 16 percent of school age children. Many children start to show symptoms of ODD between the ages of 6 and 8 years.