Temper tantrums, answering back, deliberately annoying ... it could be that your child's not just naughty, but has oppositional defiant disorder.

Hard on the heels of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), conduct disorder, and other diagnoses (some might say excuses) for bad behaviour, oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) is the latest diagnosis for kids.

It has been slated by family psychiatrist Nigel Latta, whose new book, Fathers Raising Daughters, is published tomorrow.

He describes the so-called disorder as a fad that enables American parents to medicate their children at health insurers' expense.

Symptoms, as defined by the American Psychiatric Association's authoritative Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV also include blaming others for mistakes, often being angry, resentful, spiteful, and refusing to comply with requests.

It may sound like spoiled brattishness, the result of poor parenting, but Lower Hutt clinical psychologist Kevin Garner, a specialist report writer to the Family Court with a background in child and family mental health, says ODD should be taken seriously.

ODD is an extreme form of normal childhood behaviour, he says.

"I don't make the diagnosis very often, but I do see children who meet the criteria, particularly primary school children and particularly boys."