Conduct Disorder In Children: A Quick Guide

Published on July 13th, 2018

Updated on January 3rd, 2024

Conduct Disorder In Children: A Quick Guide

Conduct disorder is a condition in which a child has behavioral issues. These behavioral issues cause destructive behavior and misconduct. A child with conduct disorder will show little remorse for their actions. This tends to create interpersonal issues with the following:

Affected children can be labeled as “trouble” or “dangerous”. Their behavior is often aggressive and threatening. It tends to deter people from engaging with them.

Conduct disorder causes behavior patterns that violate rules or the rights of others. Affected people are aggressive and threatening to people and animals. 

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People with conduct disorder are destructive and deceitful. They often struggle with issues with school, work, and peer groups. 

Affected people tend to be a nuisance to their community. They often minimize their destructive behavior to not take responsibility for their actions.

Symptoms and Warning Signs of Conduct Disorder

It is important to know how to identify the symptoms and signs of conduct disorder. This will aid in the proper diagnosis of the condition. 

People with this disorder will exhibit destructive symptoms and behavioral issues. They may have the following symptomatic behaviors:

With proper diagnosis, a person can get the treatment they need. A person can recover from conduct disorder with a commitment to therapy.

Conduct Disorder

Risk Factors of Conduct Disorder

A combination of different factors can increase the risk of conduct disorder. It typically begins around adolescence but can occur in younger children. 

Each case of conduct disorder is different and will be caused by different circumstances. Risk factors include:

Conduct disorder can also co-occur with other mental health disorders. This means that having the following conditions increases the risk of conduct disorder: 

Treatment Options for Conduct Disorder

If left untreated, conduct disorder can worsen. It may develop into antisocial personality disorder. Recovery from conduct disorder is not easy, but it is possible.

Treatment will take time and patience for the affected person and others. This includes the treatment team, friends, family, and teachers. In more extreme cases, residential treatment may be necessary for recovery.

A goal of conduct disorder treatment is to learn healthy coping skills. People in therapy will aim to learn how to take accountability for their actions. They will also learn how to empathize with others and how to be self-aware.

It can be challenging to motivate a person with conduct disorder to engage in treatment. This is partially due to resistance to taking responsibility for their past actions. Children and adolescents may act out in defiance while in treatment. 

The following may be incorporated into treatment for conduct disorder:


Psychotherapy helps a person explore the issues that may contribute to their diagnosis. Such issues that may contribute to their diagnosis issues include:

Psychotherapy also teaches coping skills. These coping skills can help manage the following: 

Behavioral Therapy

Behavioral therapy educates the affected person about their behavior. It also helps with building insight into what contributes to their behavior issues. Behavioral therapy helps a person learn effective coping skills for stress and uncomfortable feelings. These coping skills can be useful for building self-esteem, behavior management skills, and social skills. 

Behavioral therapy can also help with improving decision-making skills. This helps with minimizing impulsivity and emotional reactivity.

Family Therapy

Family members can aid in the treatment of conduct disorder. Having family members in therapy can help with boosting motivation. It can also improve relationships in the home. 

Family therapy can teach parents how to create a stable and secure home environment. It can also teach other parenting techniques that help in recovery.

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