Behavior Management – Conduct Disorder
Conduct disorders are behavioral problems that occur in children and adolescents. These young people have a hard time following rules and behaving in socially acceptable ways. Because they are often viewed as “bad” or “delinquent,” they receive a negative reaction from others and will often behave even worse. Causes of these conduct disorders are unknown but may include brain damage, child abuse, growth defects, negative family and social experiences, and failure in school. Some children with a conduct disorder also have an attention deficit disorder or depression.
Signs and Symptoms
Children with conduct disorders are often physically and verbally aggressive with other children and adults. They often bully, threaten and intimidate others, start fights, and are sometimes cruel to animals. They have a major problem with expressing anger appropriately. They often lie, steal, destroy property, violate rules, try to “con” others, and exhibit sexual misbehavior. The future of these youngsters is likely to be unhappy unless they and their families can receive early, ongoing and comprehensive treatment. Without treatment, many are unable to adapt to the demands of adulthood and continue to have problems with relationships and holding a job as they grow older. They will also often break the law and may continue to behave in an antisocial manner.
Recommended Course of Treatment
Treatment of children with conduct disorders is difficult because the illness is complex and each child is unique. An uncooperative attitude and fear and distrust of adults adds to the treatment challenge. Counseling oriented towards changing thinking patterns and behaviors is usually needed to help the child learn how to express and control anger more appropriately. Youngsters with learning disabilities may require remedial education, and parents may need expert assistance with special behavior management and education programs at home and at school. In some youngsters, medication treatment may be used, especially with those who have difficulty paying attention and controlling themselves or those with depression. Because new attitudes and behavior patterns take time, treatment is rarely brief. However, treatment does offer a good chance for improvement in the present and hope for a more successful and happy life in the future.