Children with conduct disorder exhibit behavior that shows a persistent disregard for rules, limits, and boundaries. Conduct disorder is one of the most common disorders seen in adolescents and is seen in many children as well. The behaviors seen with this disorder are anti-social, juvenile delinquent, socially unacceptable and often times dangerous, violent, self-harming, or destructive behaviors. Sometimes some parents attempt to write these behaviors off as just being a teenager. However, often times, much more is going on. If these behaviors are ignored or treated improperly, they can lead to the child committing even more dangerous and destructive behaviors.
Children who have demonstrated at least three of the following behaviors over 6 months should be evaluated for possible conduct disorder:
- Aggression towards people;
- Deliberately setting fires;
- Aggression or cruelty to animals;
- Skipping school;
- Destroying the property of others;
- Stealing and/or shoplifting;
- Breaking into homes, offices, or cars;
- Destroying one's own property;
- Starting fights;
- Forcing others into sexual activity;
- Staying out late;
- Manipulating others;
- Poor school performance.
When given appropriate treatment, many more serious problems (e.g., substance abuse, criminal activity leading to imprisonment) can usually be avoided. However, many parents are either so afraid of their children that they give up and allow the child to "run wild", or they think strict discipline alone will fix everything. Having your child see a good counselor who specializes in working with children and adolescents will often get you much further. At the Counseling Corner we have child and adloescent specialists who may be able to assist you and your family with conduct disorder issues.