Behavioral Problems in Childhood
All children can be naughty, defiant and impulsive from time to time, which is perfectly normal. However, some children have extremely difficult and challenging behaviours that are outside the normal and expected behavior for their age.
The most common disruptive behaviour disorders include oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), conduct disorder (CD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). These three behavioural disorders share some common symptoms, so diagnosis can be difficult and time consuming. A child or adolescent may have two disorders at the same time. Other factors that can worsen these symptoms can include emotional problems, mood disorders, family difficulties and substance abuse.
Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD)
Around one in ten children under the age of 12 years are thought to have oppositional defiant disorder (ODD). More boys than girls end up having this problem.
Behavior pattern of children with ODD:
- Easily angered, annoyed or irritated
- Frequent temper tantrums
- Argues frequently with adults, particularly the most familiar adults in their lives, such as parents
- Refuses to obey rules
- Seems to deliberately try to annoy or aggravate others
- Low self-esteem
- Low frustration threshold
- Seeks to blame others for any misfortunes or misdeeds.
Conduct disorder (CD)
Children with are often judged as ‘bad kids’ because of their delinquent behaviour and refusal to accept rules. Around five per cent of 10 year olds are thought to have CD. Gain, more boys than girls end up having this disorder.
Behavior pattern of children with CD:
- Frequent refusal to obey parents or other authority figures
- Repeated truancy
- Tendency to use drugs, including cigarettes and alcohol, at a very early age
- Lack of empathy for others
- Being aggressive to animals and other people or showing sadistic behaviours including bullying and physical or sexual abuse
- Keenness to start physical fights
- Using weapons in physical fights
- Frequent lying
- Criminal behaviour such as stealing, deliberately lighting fires, breaking into houses and vandalism
- A tendency to run away from home
- Suicidal tendencies – although these are more rare.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Around two to five per cent of children are thought to have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), with boys outnumbering girls by three to one.
Behaviour pattern of children with ADHD:
- Inattention – difficulty concentrating, forgetting instructions, moving from one task to another without completing anything.
- Impulsivity – talking over the top of others, having a ‘short fuse’, being accident-prone.
- Overactivity – constant restlessness and fidgeting.
Diagnosing behavioural disorders:
Disruptive behavioural disorders are complicated and may include many different factors working in combination. For example, a child who exhibits the delinquent behaviours of CD may also have ADHD, anxiety, depression, and a difficult home life.
Diagnosis methods may include:
- Diagnosis by a specialist service, which may include a paediatrician, psychologist or child psychiatrist
- In-depth interviews with the parents, child and teachers
- Behaviour check lists or standardised questionnaires.
It is important to rule out emotional, physical or family stressors that might be disrupting the child’s behaviour. For example, a sick parent or bullying by other children might be responsible for sudden changes in a child’s typical behaviour and these factors have to be considered initially.
Watch out this space on more information about behavioural disorder and their management. Or if you feel that your child is suffering from any of the above mentioned behavioural patterns, contact Word Brain Center Hospital today!