Does Your Child Have A Conduct Disorder?

It is not uncommon for children to display defiant behavior as they grow and seek to become more independent. However, when the behavior has escalated beyond the normal, it is important that parents act. If you suspect that your child has a conduct disorder, here is what you need to know.

What Is a Conduct Disorder?

Conduct disorder encompasses several emotional and behavioral problems that a child can exhibit. Children who have a disorder are often aggressive towards others and pets. He or she might frequently lie and steal. The child might also be destructive towards property. The child will basically show a disregard for rules and will continuously violate them.

As the child's behaviors escalates, his or her actions can start to impact not only his or her family, but others that encounter the child. For instance, the child might be abusive to classmates or neighbors. If left untreated, serious physical harm to others could result.

What Can You Do?

If you suspect that your child has a conduct disorder, he or she needs to be formally diagnosed by a child psychologist. Before meeting with the psychologist, create a list of behaviors that your child has displayed that have been troublesome to you and others. The psychologist needs the child's behavioral and emotional history to help in his or her diagnosis.

It might be tempting to take your child to his or her pediatrician, but it is important to remember that he or she is not a trained mental health professional. Your child's doctor will likely refer you to a mental health professional anyway.

Once a diagnosis is made, the psychologist will decide on a course of treatment. There are several treatments available, but some form of talk therapy will likely be used first. For instance, behavior therapy, which relies on positive reinforcement, is likely.

What About at Home?

Leaving with a child with a conduct disorder can be challenging to the entire family. To help you and your family cope, the psychologist will likely recommend family counseling. In therapy, you and your family can learn tactics for handling behavioral problems.

At home, it is important that you set firm boundaries with your child. Explain the house rules to him or her and have set consequences in place for negative behavior. At the same time, you need to encourage your child to use the tactics that he or she is learning in therapy.