A child yelling against a pink brick wall with a graphic of ribbons coming out of their mouth.
Frequent episodes of anger and arguing can signify disruptive behavior disorder.

Disruptive Behavior Disorder

You might find your child’s behavior tiresome and disruptive. For instance, the terrible twos have their nickname for a reason. Yet, if a child in your family is experiencing ongoing disruptive and volatile behavior, there might be something more going on, such as disruptive sleep behavior disorder.

Disruptive behavior disorder is an umbrella term used to describe a variety of disorders that involve behavioral problems, including oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) and conduct disorder. These disorders may include a variety of different behaviors, from temper tantrums to full disregard for any pre-established rules. So, let’s take a closer look at the major signs of these disorders.

1. Being Uncooperative

At times, it is natural for children to challenge parents and authority figures. This is a way for a child to gauge what is okay and what isn’t okay. However, if your child is constantly disobeying the rules and not cooperating, this could be a sign that they have disruptive behavior disorder.

For example, they might refuse to follow the rules by saying “no” or bluntly ignoring you. They may further not play nicely with others, cause disruptions in other children’s play or excessively argue with other children and adults.

2. Frequent Arguing

Again, arguments happen! Disagreements are okay, but if your child is constantly seeking out arguments with adults and children alike, then this could be problematic. In particular, if they argue about small and unimportant things continually, this is a sign you will want to pay attention to. For example, they might argue about having peas for dinner when they ate peas happily last night, amongst other arguments throughout the day and week.

3. Blaming and Annoying Others

A child with disruptive behavior disorder may annoy others or easily get annoyed with others. They may also have a tendency to blame others for their mistakes or poor behavior. For example, a child with disruptive behavior disorder may steal another child’s toy, then blame the other child for their actions.

For caregivers, this is often an easy sign to notice since it frequently disrupts the peace in the shared space, and it can cause issues for other children.

4. Demonstrates an Angry Attitude

Another common sign involves behaving in angry, vindictive or spiteful ways. They may be unkind or mean to others and may take on bullying behaviors. This can lead to various disciplinary actions in the school or in other care, which often the parents are made readily aware of.

For older children, angry attitudes may also emerge as threats or comments made to other students, as well as even physical attacks.

5. Lying Without Remorse

Children with conduct disorder may chronically lie. However, when caught in the lie, they won’t show remorse for any adverse impacts this lie may have had. Inevitably, this can create issues amongst other children or with teachers or caregivers.

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Help For Disruptive Behavior Disorder

The cause of disruptive behavior disorder isn’t entirely known. However, it is thought that it could be due to genetic, environmental or physical factors. For instance, children with disruptive behavior disorder tend to have parents with mental disorders, substance abuse or other mental issues. Children in foster care or who are rejected by their parents may also develop this disorder due to their upbringing. Additionally, children with a low birth rate or neurological damage are more likely to develop these disorders.

The truth is these disorders can be difficult to diagnose. They are generally treated via the same type of therapy. Behavioral therapy is often used to address these issues by helping the child become more aware of their behavior. It’s also used to aid parents in managing their children more effectively and implementing positive reinforcement strategies.

Your children may also undergo treatment involving teachings around how to manage their emotions and feelings, how to get along with others and strategies for making good decisions. For severe cases, psychiatric medication may be considered. Usually, behavioral therapy and modifications are the first courses of treatment though.

Lastly, a child with disruptive behavior disorder and their family may benefit from seeking out support groups in their area. It can help to interact with other families going through similar situations, as it can help you feel less alone.

It’s also worth noting that some children with disruptive behavior disorder also have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Thus, it is important to work with a specialist who understands treatment and care for both types of disorders so that your child can get the best help possible. Some children may further benefit from special classroom settings. Yet, this may vary on a case-by-case basis.