Child Behavior Disorders
face it…all kids misbehave sometimes. One of the questions that
we frequently ask ourselves when our children are engaging in
unwanted behavior is, “Why?” Sometimes our children act out as
the result of an unfilled need and we can often determine this
need by the way we feel when the behavior occurs. For example,
if we feel annoyed when our child is acting out then there is a
high likelihood that our child is wanting our attention and if
they can’t get our positive attention, then they will settle for
our negative attention. Basically, they’ll take what they can
get. If we feel angry when our child misbehaves then it is
possible that our child is desiring power; therefore, we need to
find a way to allow our child to have more choices and control.
A child’s behavior almost always serves some type of purpose for
that child; however, when you find yourself with more questions
than answers, it may be time to consider a more serious
Disruptive behavior disorders include Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) and Conduct Disorder (CD). Behaviors characteristic of these disorders include temper tantrums, physical aggression which may involve attacking other children, excessive argumentativeness, stealing, and overall defiance or resistance to authority. More often than not, behaviors related to these disorders have a negative impact on school performance, family and peer relationships, and often increase in frequency and duration over time.
Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)
As defined in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), ODD includes persistent symptoms of “negativistic, defiant, disobedient, and hostile behaviors toward authority figures.” A child with this disorder may frequently display the following behaviors:
Argues with adults, in particular
Loses temper easily
Refuses to follow rules
Blames others for his/her own mistakes
Deliberately annoys others
Is angry and resentful of others
begins prior to the age of 8-years-old and is rarely diagnosed
after early adolescence. ODD is sometimes a precursor to conduct
As defined in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), characteristics of CD include "a persistent pattern of behavior in which the basic rights of others or major age-appropriate social norms are violated." Behaviors fall into the following categories:
Aggression toward people and animals
Destruction of property without aggression toward people or animals
Deceitfulness, lying, and theft
Serious violations of rules
Often, CD appears in early or middle childhood as oppositional defiant disorder. Conduct disorder is sometimes a precursor to antisocial personality disorder which is not diagnosed until an individual is 18 years of age.
Seeking Professional Help
When a child’s behavior is severe or frequent, it may be necessary to schedule an appointment with a licensed mental health professional in order to determine the cause of the child’s difficulty. Without early diagnosis and treatment, the symptoms of ODD may become severe enough to eventually warrant a diagnosis of CD. One of the most effective methods to treat disruptive behavior disorders is behavior therapy. This type of therapeutic approach reinforces desirable behaviors in order to eliminate undesirable or maladaptive behaviors. Parent education is also beneficial.
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About Dr. Skipper
Disclaimer: The above information is not intended to provide professional advice or diagnostic service. If you have any concerns about Child Behavior Disorders or other health issues, please consult a qualified health care professional in your community.