Referral Corner: Is My Child in Trouble?

With overmedication of children a rising phenomenon in the U.S., many parents find themselves wondering if and when their children’s behavior actually might require outside intervention. “Conduct Disorder” is a category counselors use to describe patterns of repetitive behaviors in which a child violates social norms or the rights of others.

According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), factors contributing to conduct disorder range from brain damage to school failure and traumatic life experiences. AACAP recommends that children be screened for conduct disorder if they exhibit the following behaviors:

  • Aggression to people and animals
  • Destruction of property
  • Deceitfulness, lying or stealing
  • Serious violation of rules (runs away from home, is truant from school)

Children with conduct disorder often have pre-existing conditions including mood disorders, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, or learning disabilities. AACAP advises that children with conduct disorder who do not receive treatment may be unable to adapt to adulthood and find difficulty holding jobs and having relationships. Still, treatment is often demanding due to the child’s fear and distrust of adults.

Treatment plans often include behavior therapy, psychotherapy, anger management, and special education. Medications also can be prescribed to assist with impulse problems and depression. AACAP notes that successful treatment plans include help from a variety of sources such as psychiatrists, teachers, family members and counselors.

Information from the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry’s Facts for Families “Conduct Disorder” fact sheet.