Disruptive behaviour and dissocial disorders

Disruptive behaviour and dissocial disorders are characterized by chronic behavioural issues, such as persistent defiance of authority or disobedience to significant age-appropriate societal standards, rules, or laws. Disruptive and dissociative disorders frequently, but not always, begin in childhood. There are effective psychological therapies available, frequently involving parents, carers, and educators, as well as cognitive problem-solving or social skills instruction.

The most common types of disruptive behaviour disorder are:

  1. Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) and
  2. Conduct disorder

Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD)

A recurring pattern of irrational outbursts, disputes, and disobedience is present in children with oppositional defiant disorder. While this behaviour typically targets parents, teachers, and other adults, it can also target siblings, peers, and other kids. The connections and activities in your child’s household and at school, as well as their daily routine, are frequently disrupted by this behaviour.

It’s typical for kids, especially those between the ages of two and three and those in their early teens, to act rebelliously or in defiance of authority on occasion. They may argue, refuse to do something, or speak back to adults, such as their parents or instructors, to show their disobedience. It may be a sign of ODD if this behaviour persists for more than six months and is out of the ordinary for your child’s age.

Conduct disorder, a more severe behavioural illness, develops in about 30% of kids with ODD. If ODD is not correctly identified and treated, ODD behaviours may persist into adulthood.

Conduct disorder

Your kid or adolescent may have conduct disorder (CD) if they consistently display aggressiveness toward other people. Additionally, at home, school, and with their friends, they exhibit major transgressions of social norms and rules.

These rule violations may involve breaking the law. Children with CD are more likely to get injured and may have difficulties getting along with peers.

Signs of conduct disorder include:

  • Frequently breaking serious rules, such as running away from home, staying out at night when told not to or skipping school.
  • Being aggressive in a way that causes harm, such as bullying, fighting or being cruel to animals.
  • Lying, stealing, or damaging other people’s property on purpose.

Causes of Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD)

Although the precise origin of ODD is unknown, two theories—the impact of developmental factors and the influence of learned elements—help to explain why a child might experience the condition.

Developmental factors

One theory suggests that children with ODD:

  • begin to experience problems in their toddler years
  • may have had an unusually hard time separating from parents (“standing on their own two feet,” so to speak) while younger
  • did not resolve their normal development issues in their younger years, leading to later behavioral problems

Learned factors

Another theory suggests that children with oppositional defiant disorder:

  • developed unusually strong levels of negativity and pessimism (two main traits of ODD) because a parent or other authority figure meted out excessive punishment or other forms of negative reinforcement
  • learned to associate the parent or authority figure’s negative reinforcement with receiving more attention, time, and concern
  • started a pattern of acting out in order to receive more of this perceived “extra attention”

Other possible factors may include:

  • permissive parenting, when a parent too often and too easily gives in to a child’s demands and doesn’t really teach them the “rules”
  • strong will in the child, which can be caused by any or all of the following:
  • ingrained personality or tempermental characteristics
  • lack of positive attachment to a parent
  • significant stress or a lack of predictable structure in the home or community environment

Causes of conduct disorder

Conduct disorder is a highly complex condition, and its causes aren’t fully understood. It’s likely that both genetic and environmental factors influence children who develop conduct disorder. Many of these children have a family history of:

  • substance abuse problems
  • antisocial behavior or antisocial personality disorder
  • mood disorders like depression and bipolar disorder
  • schizophrenia

However, children from well-functioning families can — and do — develop conduct disorder, too.

Symptoms of disruptive behaviour disorder

Symptoms of oppositional defiant disorder (ODD)

Signs of ODD include:

  • frequent temper tantrums
  • excessive arguments with adults
  • refusing to comply with adult requests
  • always questioning rules
  • refusing to follow rules
  • behavior intended to annoy or upset others
  • blaming others for misbehavior or mistakes
  • becoming easily annoyed with others
  • frequently demonstrating an angry attitude
  • speaking harshly or unkindly to others
  • behavior designed to seek revenge

Symptoms of conduct disorder

  • Children and adolescents with conduct disorder display behaviors that deliberately ignore or abuse the feelings and rights of others. Warning signs may include:
  • aggressive behaviors toward others, including bullying or making threats
  • misinterpreting others’ behaviors as threatening
  • inability to tolerate frustration, restrictions, or rules (either at home or at school)
  • chronic lying without remorse
  • stealing or destroying property
  • fighting
  • substance abuse

The most serious behaviours resulting from conduct disorder can include:

  • using, or threatening to use, weapons
  • abusing or mistreating animals
  • physically attacking others


Diagnosing oppositional defiant disorder

After conducting a thorough psychiatric evaluation with you and your kid, a mental health professional (usually a child and adolescent psychiatrist, child psychologist, or psychiatric social worker) diagnoses oppositional defiant disorder. You will be questioned about your child’s behavioural issues as well as about their family history, medical history, schooling, and social interactions throughout this evaluation.

Diagnosing conduct disorder

Conduct disorder is typically diagnosed if a child has done three or more of the following within a 12-month period:

  • showed aggression toward animals or people
  • destroyed or stolen property
  • lied and been deceitful
  • seriously violated parental or school rules

A child with conduct disorder experiences noticeably dysfunctional relationships at home, at school, and with peers as a result of these behaviours.


Treatments for oppositional defiant disorder

Oppositional defiant disorder is typically treated with one or more of the following methods:

Parenting modification

Oppositional defiant disorder treatment for your child depends on your engagement as a parent. We’ve discovered that teaching parents new skills, such as how to foresee troublesome behaviour, control outbursts, and apply consistency in the child’s daily routine, is the greatest way to treat ODD.

Social-emotional skills training

Building on the parenting modification techniques, therapy for ODD also focuses on providing social-emotional skills training for your child.

Psychiatric medication

There currently are no drugs prescribed specifically for the condition, but certain symptoms can respond very well to medication in conjunction with talk therapy.

Treatments for conduct disorder

It’s crucial to treat both ailments concurrently in children and adolescents with conduct disorders since they frequently also have other mental health issues, such as anxiety disorders or mood disorders (such as depression).

Treatment for conduct disorder is complex, meticulous, and long-term, and techniques typically combine extensive psychotherapy and psychiatric medication.

Some kids with conduct disorder need to remain in a residential treatment facility where they can be taken out of their regular setting, properly handled, and isolated from other kids until their behaviour is under control and safe.

Source: https://www.childrenshospital.org, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, https://www.who.int, https://my.clevelandclinic.org

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