If you are concerned that your child may have a Conduct Disorder or if your school or GP has suggested that there could be an issue, then we can help you.
Conduct disorders are repetitive and persistent patterns of behaving, where the young person behaves in ways which go against social norms and that are not in line with normal behaviours for the age of the child.
Children and teenagers with a conduct disorder may get gratification out of hurting someone else, lying or stealing. Conduct disorders can be difficult to diagnose, as some of these troublesome behaviours can be a result of environmental factors or other mental health conditions (see more about the causes of behavioural problems).
It’s hard for parents to know what is normal for their child and what is a sign there might be an underlying problem. We speak to hundreds of parents each year who aren’t sure where to turn to help their child or teenager with a suspected conduct disorder – speaking to an expert in the field gives parents much needed support and advice and can ensure that their child receives the right help or treatment.
There are several common symptoms that indicate your child may have a conduct disorder.
The symptoms of Conduct Disorders include:
Children and teenagers with a conduct disorder may show all or some of the above. Some, although by no means all, young people with conduct disorder show no (genuine) remorse or guilt for their actions and even seem to get a ‘kick’ out of their actions or feel justified in their behaviours.
We know that early intervention is the most effective way of preventing the behaviours associated with a conduct disorder from escalating.
Many parents hope their child or teen’s behaviour is just a phase. Parents may hold back from seeking help because of shame or embarrassment; however behavioural problems are very common, and treatment can make a real difference.
The benefits of seeking help for conduct disorder:
Seeking help from a professional who understands conduct disorders and can carry out a thorough assessment to understand the issues and causes for the behaviour is the first step to getting the right help in place for your whole family.
The Psychiatrist’s help and caring nature were greatly appreciated. He took the time to fully explain everything to us and answered all our questions.
It can be difficult to know if your child has a conduct disorder or another mental health condition that is causing their behavioural problems.
A Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist is the best person to assess your child and will spend time ruling out other conditions. As they are experts in child mental health, they will be able to formulate an effective treatment plan, which can significantly improve things for both your child and your whole family.
It might seem a bit scary getting a diagnosis, many of us are loathe to ‘label’ our children – however we hear from parents every day who describe huge relief at having a reason for their child or teenagers’ behaviour and have found it incredibly helpful in terms of both the understanding this has led to, but also their ability to communicate to others why their child behaves as they do.
1. Parent/foster care training programmes
Parenting programmes are recommended for parents children and young people aged between 3 and 11 years who have been diagnosed (or have a high risk of developing) conduct disorders.
2. Child-focused programmes and therapy
Group and individual social and cognitive problem-solving programmes are recommended for children aged 9-14 who
have been diagnosed (or have a high risk of developing) conduct disorders.
In some cases, medication can be hugely effective for other conditions that frequently accompany conduct disorders, although medication is not used for conduct disorder itself.
For children with ADHD (which is often undiagnosed and put down to ‘bad behaviour’), stimulant medication can have a significant impact on the child’s ability to concentrate and feel less frustrated. There are some medications that can be used effectively for other conditions, such as atypical antipsychotics that can reduce a child’s aggression and can be useful to help a child be able to fully engage in their behavioural therapy.