Children with conduct disorder repeatedly break the rules of home, school, and community. 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. A child with this disorder behaves this way for at least a year or longer.
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 or being exposed to violence may teach children that violence is okay.
Factors that may increase the risk of developing this disorder include:
Symptoms may include:
Children with conduct disorder often have other problems as well. These may include:
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.
You may be at a loss as to what to do. Contact a mental health professional who has experience with conduct disorder. Learn as much as you can. 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.