It is in the nature of children to misbehave from time of the time – sometimes children even “act out” as a result of a life-stressor such as the addition of a sibling. Behavioral disorders of childhood, however, are far more serious than occasional acting out. These disorders are characterized by an ongoing pattern of aggressive, hostile, or disruptive behaviors that persist six months or longer. The behaviors that children and teens with disruptive behavior disorders exhibit is not appropriate for those children’s ages. Actions associated with disruptive behaviors cause challenges for the child, family, and in school as they tremendously impact daily life. Additionally, they may also involve the violation of the rights of others. Behavioral disorders involve emotional dysregulation in addition to behavioral problems.
There are a number of behavioral disorders of childhood and adolescence that can range from minor irritations to severely debilitating. Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) is a pattern of hostile, disobedient and defiant behaviors that are directed at adults and authority figures, such as teachers. Conduct disorder (CD) involves long-term problems with behavior that include defiant, impulsive behaviors, and criminal activity that violates the rights of others. Intermittent explosive behavior is characterized by repeated episodes of aggressive, impulsive, violent behavior, or angry verbal outbursts out of proportion to the situation. While these behaviors occur along a spectrum of severity, what is known is that if left untreated, these disorders can develop into more intense disorders as the child ages, notably antisocial personality disorder. It is imperative that disruptive behavior disorders be properly diagnosed and treated as soon as they are suspected to reduce the likelihood of greater complications and increase more positive outcomes.