Conduct Disorder is a childhood behavior disorder characterized by a consistent pattern of harming others or their property, stealing, lying, or breaking major accepted rules or standards of behavior. Children must be developmentally able to understand and follow these rules and standards of behavior in order to be considered as having Conduct Disorder.
Isolated instances of extreme misbehavior, running away, stealing, etc. are not enough to warrant a diagnosis of Conduct Disorder. Most children display instances of surprisingly poor judgment and bad behavior at least once during their childhood.
On the other hand, children with Conduct Disorder consistently break rules, often act in aggressive or threatening ways, and may destroy property, and show little regard for others. These behaviors must occur over an extended period of time. In fact, a diagnosis of Conduct Disorder is not considered unless the child has displayed such behavior for a year or more.
How they Deal with the World
Children with Conduct Disorder often view the world as a hostile and threatening place. They may be quick to mistakenly believe that others are acting aggressively or hostile toward them. They may also "tattle" on friends and blame others for their own mistakes.
These children often have difficulty maintaining friendships. Friends and family members become upset with their misbehavior and often become more irritated when the children do not show remorse or guilt over their actions. They often have low self-esteem, even though their behavior may make them appear tough, "cocky" or self-assured.
Other Common Problems
Children with Conduct Disorder are at high risk for school and work problems. These difficulties are often due to problems in their ability to do schoolwork as well as their difficulties getting along with others. These children may also participate in crimes and are often involved with the court system. They are also more likely to smoke, use alcohol or illegal drugs, engage in early sexual activity, and other reckless behaviors. These behaviors increase the risk of teenage pregnancy and sexually-transmitted diseases.
Reprinted with the permission of the University of Florida. © 2008 University of Florida.
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