Conduct Disorder (CD)

  • By: The DIG for Kids
  • Time to read: 3 min.
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Conduct Disorder (CD) is a disruptive type of behavioural disorder in which a child routinely violates the personal rights of others and shows no care for others’ property. CD is more often diagnosed in boys than girls and affects approximately five percent of the population under 15 years of age in the United Kingdom.

Signs/Symptoms of Conduct Disorder

There are a variety of signs/symptoms of conduct disorder, though for a formal diagnosis there must be at least one shown and it must be shown for a period of more than six months. Common signs/symptoms of CD include aggressive behaviours toward others or animals, destructive behaviours towards the property of others including harming or destroying items (including cars and homes), lying to others, stealing from others and playing truant from school. Older children and teens may also engage in behaviours harmful to themselves such as smoking and tobacco use, alcohol use, substance abuse and engaging in unprotected sexual activities.

Diagnosing Conduct Disorder

A diagnosis of Conduct Disorder must be made by a professional in child psychology. There are two types of conduct disorder and the distinction is marked by age. Child-Onset Type CD is diagnosed when at least one sign or symptom is shown, for at least six months, prior to the age of 10 years. Adolescent-Onset Type CD is diagnosed when at least one sign or symptom is show, for at least six months, after the age of 10 years but no signs or symptoms were shown prior to the age of 10 years. CD may also be described as mild, moderate or severe. Children with mild CD will exhibit few signs/symptoms and cause little harm to others. Children with moderate CD will exhibit multiple signs/symptoms and cause some harm to others. Children with severe CD will exhibit many signs/symptoms and will cause much harm to others through their actions or the consequences of their actions.

Treating Conduct Disorder

The method of treatment selected for a child with Conduct Disorder will be determined by the child’s age, signs/symptoms, and tolerance for or comfort with medications and/or therapies. Main approaches to treatment include cognitive-behavioural therapy which helps to improve a child’s problem-solving, communication, impulse control and anger management skills, family therapy/counselling and possibly medication to treat the signs/symptoms of CD.

Living with Conduct Disorder

It is imperative that a child diagnosed with Conduct Disorder has a supportive family and home environment. Not only is this important for following whatever treatment programme is devised, but it helps the child realise that they are still loved and appreciated despite their behaviours. A healthy diet and plenty of exercise is also essential for children being treated for CD. Notifying teachers and tutors of a diagnosis of CD is also significant as it will help the child feel supported at school and notify educators of the child’s special needs.

Conduct Disorder is a behavioural disorder characterised by aggression, defiance and antisocial behaviour. CD must be diagnosed by a child psychology expert, and treatment may include cognitive-behavioural therapy, family counselling and/or medication to treat the signs/symptoms of the disorder. Families living with CD should remain supportive and loving towards the child with the disorder, and notify teachers and tutors so that the child will be supported at school as well.

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