Children with conduct disorder repeatedly break the rules of society for a year or longer. They ignore the personal and property rights of others. They may lie, steal, set fires, run away from home, be cruel to animals and people, and defy authority.
The cause of conduct disorder is unknown. It seems to occur more in some families. Many times, environment is a factor. A child may imitate physical or verbal abuse seen within the family. Watching violent TV shows and movies may teach children that violence is okay.
Factors that appear to increase the risk of developing this disorder include:
Symptoms may include:
Aggression to people and animals
Destruction of property
Deceitfulness or theft
Serious violations of rules
Children with conduct disorder often have other problems as well. These may include:
Some children with conduct disorder have other mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, ADHD, or bipolar disorder.
The healthcare provider will do a physical exam and ask about the child's symptoms and behavior. Medical tests and a psychological evaluation may be done. Diagnosis of conduct disorder is made only after other conditions are ruled out.
It is usually best to use several different approaches to treat conduct disorder.
About half of the children with this disorder "grow out of it" by adulthood. The others often have problems as adults. These problems may include criminal behavior, aggression, and trouble holding a job.
Learn as much as you can about the conduct disorder. It is very important to be involved with your child in the treatment. Parents or other caregivers still remain the strongest influence on the child. They need to develop skills to control the child's behavior and shape his or her future behavior.