Conduct Disorder (CD)

Wat is conduct disorder?
Conduct disorder (CD) is a serious behavioral and emotional disorder that can occur in children and teens. A child with this disorder may display a pattern of disruptive and violent behavior and have problems following rules.

It is not uncommon for children and teens to have behavior-related problems at some time during their development. However, the behavior is considered to be a conduct disorder when it is long-lasting and when it violates the rights of others, goes against accepted norms of behavior and disrupts the child’s or families everyday life.

What Are the Symptoms of Conduct Disorder?
Symptoms of CD vary depending on the age of the child and whether the disorder is mild, moderate, or severe. In general, symptoms of CD fall into four general categories:
Aggressive behavior: These are behaviors that threaten or cause physical harm and may include fighting, bullying, being cruel to others or animals, using weapons, and forcing another into sexual activity.
Destructive behavior: This involves intentional destruction of property such as arson (deliberate fire-setting) and vandalism (harming another person’s property).
Deceitful behavior: This may include repeated lying, shoplifting, or breaking into homes or cars in order to steal.
Violation of rules: This involves going against accepted rules of society or engaging in behavior that is not appropriate for the person’s age. These behaviors may include running away, skipping school, playing pranks, or being sexually active at a very young age.

In addition, many children with conduct disorder are irritable, have low self-esteem, and tend to throw frequent temper tantrums. Some may abuse drugs and alcohol. Children with conduct disorder often are unable to appreciate how their behavior can hurt others and generally have little guilt or remorse about hurting others.

Conduct disorder

Advice for parents:
Use a calm voice when dealing with oppositional defiance.
A child with Oppositional Defiant Disorder is often hoping to engage his or her parents in a battle of wills. Explain in as few words as possible your position or parental requirement then do not continue to discuss the issue. It is difficult for kids to argue when they have no one to argue with them! If you engage in a back-and-forth argument with a defiant child, you have given the child the power to control the exchange. Remember, the house rules apply to everyone in your home. If you break one of the house rules, give yourself a consequence like apologizing or taking a short time-out to gather your thoughts. Since kids with ODD often see themselves as victims, lead by example to show your child that you aren’t too proud to apologize and that the house rules apply to everyone in the family.

Celebrate your child’s successes.
Kids with ODD have trouble regulating their emotions, which can lead to the severe outbursts and tantrums associated with the disorder. If your child is able to successfully manage his or her behavior for a a longer than usual period of time, celebrate those successes with a family dinner at a favorite restaurant or some other fun family activity. Let your child know you notice and appreciate the extra effort. Make time to have fun and connect with your child when he or she is calm and functioning well.

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Set a few non-negotiable house rules and enforce them with consequences.
Kids with ODD are often anxious and have an overwhelming need to control their environment and others. Keep house rules simple and limited so kids don’t feel stifled or overwhelmed. For instance, rules may include, “We don’t hurt ourselves, others, or property. We use kind language and don’t raise our voices.” Display house rules and decide ahead of time on consequences for breaking a rule so kids know what to expect if they do. Once your child has completed the consequence, move on from the incident. Show your child that each new day is a chance to make better choices.

Create a structured environment.
It’s no secret that when children are well-rested, physically fit, and get sufficient nutrition, they are better able to regulate their emotions. Make exercise, healthy meals, and adequate sleep a priority. A structured, healthy lifestyle will not only benefit a child with Oppositional Defiant Disorder but your entire family!