Conduct Disorder In Children - 5 Symptoms & 10 Treatments You Should Be Aware Of


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With each passing day, your child is growing and crossing many stages of development. Parenting is a tough job indeed, and taking care of a child requires a lot of effort, both physically and mentally.

As parents, we try and instill all the good values in our children. Sometimes though, there may be instances when children end up behaving in a very negative way, especially when out in public. One or two instances are fine, but what happens when your child routinely defies you and behaves in a negative manner?

An Overview:

We have compiled a detailed guide to help you about the basics of conduct disorder in children. The types, common symptoms and the various ways to deal them.

Also known as oppositional defiant disorder, conduct disorder basically affects around 6-10% of kids.

  • It is a childhood disorder characterized by a set of negative behaviours that children may demonstrate towards adults or any other people.
  • They are basically a group of emotional and behavioural
    problems in children.
  • Such children are often believed to experience troubles in school and workplace and other social relationships.
  • This condition is more common among males than in females and needs intervention on the part of the parents to help the children achieve a socially acceptable status.

Conduct Disorder Symptoms:

There are many different symptoms associated with this condition in children. These vary depending on the age and also the severity of the condition.

Generally, the following symptoms are noted in kids affected by conduct disorders:

1. Deceitful Behavior – Children may lie repeatedly and attempt to shoplift or steal things from others.

2. Destructive Behavior – Children may do intentional destruction of property such as setting a fire, scratching furniture, throwing things around or harming other people’s property.

3. Violation Of Rules – Children affected by conduct disorder often tend to violate the rules put down by their parents or the society. Running away, playing pranks, bullying others, skipping school or being involved sexually are some examples.

4. Aggressive Behavior – Children may also demonstrate aggression and may turn to fighting, bullying, being cruel to animals or smaller children or forcing into sexual activity. They may also try to purposely instigate and harm other individuals and use a weapon, often for threatening purposes or for intimidating or bullying others.

5. Temper Tantrums – Children suffering from this condition often throw temper tantrums and will do anything to get something they demand. They also tend to blame others for their mistakes and will refuse to comply with anyone’s requests. They may also argue with authority figures and be easily annoyed with other people, and at the same time, try to annoy others as well.

[ Read: Aggressive Behavior in Children ]

Causes Of Conduct Disorder:

Though the exact cause of this disorder is not yet known, there are many speculated triggers. Here are some of the most common ones:

• Genetic Problems :

Conduct disorders have a genetic origin. In most cases, children suffering from this tend to have a family member who may have been affected by mental disorders, particularly mood disorders, personality and anxiety disorders and substance abuse.

• Environmental Factors:

Certain environmental factors influence this condition in children. For example, having a dysfunctional family life, a history of substance abuse in the family and inconsistent discipline may trigger conduct disorders in children. Childhood abuse and traumatic experiences may also trigger this condition.

[ Read: Environmental Factors Affecting Child Development ]

• Psychological And Social Factors:

Problems with moral awareness such as lack of guilt and remorse, and defects in cognitive processing may also be responsible for conduct disorders in kids. Low socioeconomic status and not being accepted by the peers can also trigger in kids.

• Biological Factors :

Defects or injuries to certain areas of the brain may also cause behavioural problems. These are also linked to a deficiency of particular chemicals of the brain known as neurotransmitters, which help the brain cells communicate with one another properly.

Children and teens affected by these disorders are also more likely to be affected by mood disorders, mental illnesses, anxiety issues, depression, learning disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorders and substance abuse.

Conduct Disorder Treatment Options:

Usually, parental approach is helpful in tackling kids affected by moderate conduct disorders. However, medical approach may be needed for much severe cases. As a parent, you can do a lot to help your child be better in terms of his conduct and grow as a normal, civilized human being.

Here are a few things you can do as a parent to help your child in such a situation:

1. Make sure you give him time and attention. Developing kids need this the most. Often, children tend to develop these disorders because their parents are too busy. It becomes a way of gaining attention.
2. Try to inculcate good habits in your child. Enhance his personality by giving examples and reading out stories. Lead by example.
3. Have a gentle approach to your child.
4. Set a good example yourself. Your kid will not throw tantrums and get violent if you are calm yourself.
5. Help your child set up a positive goal for himself. This will push his energies to a more constructive direction.
6. Communicating with your child and allowing him to speak out his mind can also help.
7. There is no medication or one-size-fits-all treatment for conduct disorder in children. Every child is different, and so are the needs. Remember this while handling your child.
8. Psychotherapy and cognitive behavioural therapy may help your child express and control his emotions in a better way.
9. It will also help you analyze your child’s condition in more depth, which will help you take necessary steps to ensure the mental health of your child.
10. This will improve the parent-child relationship and help your kid express his views more effectively. Doing so could give you valuable insight into dealing with your kid.

Face your child with a smile, no matter what happens. He or she will be more likely to be at their best behaviour when he or she knows you love him or her unconditionally.

Share your experiences and tips with other parents in the comment section below:

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