Every parent has to deal with unruly teenagers and angsty youths from time to time, but if your child won’t cooperate no matter how hard you try to communicate with them, and has repeated bouts of defiance and aggressive behavior, they might be suffering from a behavior disorder such as oppositional defiant disorder or conduct disorder. These can be diagnosed by mental health experts so if you and your child or teen seem to be in a constant power struggle it’s time to seek help from a trained professional who is familiar with what your child is going through.
Oppositional Defiant Disorder
ODD, or oppositional defiant disorder, is a behavior disorder affecting children and teens. It’s normal for your teen to act out and try to show some independence, but if yours is stuck in a pattern of defiant behavior and is showing hostility toward others, especially authority figures such as parents and teachers, they might be suffering from ODD and could use some knowledgeable help. ODD is more commonly detected in boys than in girls, and can be accompanied by anxiety disorders, conduct disorder, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). A mental health test by a child psychiatrist can diagnose these.
All children can act out, be disobedient, and push boundaries, but if it feels like you’re losing a constant battle it could be something more. ODD symptoms include frequent tantrums, persistent arguing with adults, doing things to intentionally annoy others, and blaming others for their mistakes. A child with ODD may be easily annoyed or angered, becoming belligerent and refusing to do as they are asked or follow rules. They might have a harsh or unkind attitude and a tendency to be vengeful or vindictive. If your child is showing a persistent pattern it might be more than youthful rebellion.
It’s not fully known what causes a child to develop oppositional defiant disorder, but possible factors include developmental problems that may include the way nerves or the brain function. Alternatively or concurrently it could have roots in learned behaviors and environmental factors such as harsh parenting, lack of parental guidance, or cases of abuse or neglect. Children who exhibit ODD may have experienced childhood trauma or be in an unstable, fraught home environment, or receive harsh discipline from teachers or other authority figures. Whatever the cause, with diagnosis and treatment your child can begin to show improvement in their symptoms.
Getting your child treatment for their oppositional defiant disorder can help with their mood and anger issues by teaching effective ways to handle their emotions. This can help them develop and keep friendships, have an easier time with teachers, and let them have a happier life. Therapy such as cognitive behavioral therapy can help them better understand what they are feeling, while family therapy lets you and your child learn tools together to better communicate. Medicines are not generally used to treat ODD but can be offered if a child also has ADHD or another disorder.
Conduct disorder, or CD, is another type of behavior disorder. It presents in a child as antisocial behavior and a tendency to disobey social standards and rules. This differs from ODD in being less about fighting authority figures and more about being hurtful or destructive without considering the impact their behavior has on others. A child with CD may be prone to fights, bullying, and vandalism. If left untreated this can progress to dangerous behaviors such as assault, arson, or abuse to humans and animals. Conduct disorder can show up with other conditions such as PTSD, anxiety, and thought disorders.
Conduct disorder symptoms can be divided into four main groups: rule-breaking, aggression, destruction, and deceitfulness. A child with CD may break rules by skipping school, acting irresponsibly such as engaging in pranks and running away. Aggression can come out as bullying and intimidation, cruelty, violent acts, and physical attacks. Destruction can include deliberately destroying other’s property and setting fires. A child showing deceitful behavior might be caught lying, stealing and shoplifting, or delinquency. Finding a good mental health provider can greatly help a child struggling with CD.
Conduct disorder is more likely to occur in children with other mental health problems. Genetic and environmental factors can both contribute to the development of CD. Adverse childhood experiences are often reported such as child abuse, school failure, and traumatic events. There also seems to be a possible link with brain damage, particularly to the frontal lobe which can have a negative effect on a child’s judgment and ability to learn from mistakes and make good decisions. Conduct disorder is more common in children from disadvantaged backgrounds and dysfunctional homes and is sometimes accompanied by learning problems and addiction.
The main treatment for a child with CD is therapy that helps them improve social interactions. The degree and type of therapy depends on the child’s age, history, symptoms and severity of the condition, and any other mental health issues that need to be addressed. Different types of therapy that might be recommended include cognitive-behavioral therapy which helps a child learn better forms of communication, problem-solving, and anger and impulse control. Peer group therapy helps children with interpersonal relationship skills, while family therapy can help improve relationships and communication at home. Having a stable home life is important for recovery.
Contact NeuroHealth in Arlington Heights Today
Getting a diagnosis of ODD or CD will help your child have a better understanding of their mental health condition and allow you to take the next steps to get the best treatment. At NeuroHealth Arlington Heights we offer a neuropsychological assessment to determine what is affecting your child’s behavior. We can then work with you to come up with a plan and advise the best steps to take going forward. If you suspect your child has a behavioral disorder and would like to know more about what we can do to help then contact us today at (847) 584-1824.