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How Can I Tell If My Child Has a Disruptive Behavioral Disorder?

Disruptive behavioral disorders (DPD) consist of either oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) or conduct disorder (CD). While it’s quite normal for children and adolescents to argue, act out, or become stressed at times, children with DPDs exhibit a longstanding pattern of hostile interactions, cruelty, and defiance towards authoritative figures. If not treated early on, the symptoms of these disorders could become more severe. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) claims that approximately 3% of children have ODD, and approximately 8% of children have CD at some point during their adolescence.

As stated by a 2014 article published in the Journal of Attention Disorders, the risk factors for these disorders may involve genetics, environmental factors (such as abuse, neglect, abandonment, chaotic environments, exposure to violence, etc.), and/or psychological factors (intense emotional reactivity, trouble controlling emotions, and problems dealing with frustration). Although symptoms of ODD may change from childhood to adolescence, there are 3 main types of symptom clusters:

  • Anger and irritability – being easily annoyed, losing one’s temper
  • Argumentative and defiant behavior – arguing with adults, defying rules, purposefully annoying or upsetting others, blaming other people for their own mistakes
  • Vindictiveness – showing a nasty, cruel attitude towards others; being mean or punishing others

CD, on the other hand, involves different symptom clusters:

  • Aggression to people and animals – bullying, intimidating, using weapons, being cruel, stealing, forcing others into sexual acts
  • Destruction of property
  • Deceit or theft –
  • Serious violation of rules – skipping school, running away, etc.

Effective treatment for DPDs often includes parental training (helps family members learn tools to manage a child’s behavior), behavioral family therapy (involves a combination of both child and family), skills-based interventions (medication, social skills training, etc.), and medication. By seeking treatment, you are helping your child develop the tools they need to effectively work with others and lead a successful life. If you haven’t already, speak with a professional from a reputable treatment center regarding a customized treatment program for your child. Recovery is possible, and you are not alone.

If you or someone you know has struggled immensely with trauma, help is available. Call The Guest House Ocala today for information on our residential treatment programs for trauma, addiction, and related mental health issues. 1-855-483-7800