Behavioural Disorders in Children
All children engage in bad behaviour every now and then but some children exhibit highly challenging behaviours that are consistently inappropriate for their age. Often these children do not simply exhibit a behavioural problem, but have an underlying behavioural disorder. While there are many behavioural disorders that may be diagnosed in children, three of the most common include Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), Conduct Disorder (CD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)As many as one-tenth of any child population is thought to have ODD, and the chances of a boy having it are almost two times higher than those of a girl. Generally ODD is seen in children under the age of 10. Though little research has been conducted on the causes of ODD, it is usually diagnosed after at least six months of uncooperative, defiant and hostile behaviours that don’t actually go as far as breaking any major social norms. The behaviours often include:
- Having temper tantrums.
- Arguing, especially with adults.
- Defying the requests or orders of adults.
- Deliberately attempting to irritate others.
- Being easily irritated by others.
- Acting angry or resentful in general.
- Blaming others for one’s own mistakes.
Conduct Disorder (CD)CD can be divided into two categories: child onset (exhibited in a child under the age of 10) and adolescent onset (not exhibited in the child prior to the age of 10). CD is characterised by a repetitive pattern of behaviours that violate the rights of others and necessarily the social norms that guard these rights. For a formal diagnosis, three behaviours must be exhibited in the year prior with at least one in the last six months. These behaviours include:
- Acting aggressively towards people or animals, including theft, assault and sexual assault.
- Destroying property, including by arson.
- Deceiving or stealing from others, including shop lifting and breaking into houses and cars.
- Breaking parental rules, including breaking curfews, playing truant from school and running away from home.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)ADHD is arguably the most common child onset behavioural disorder in the UK. An estimated 5% to 10% of children in the UK are affected by ADHD, and while symptoms may manifest as early as 18 months of age many children are not formally diagnosed until years later – if at all. Children affected by ADHD may exhibit symptoms such as:
- Poor concentration, including an inability to finish tasks or wait for others to finish speaking.
- Hyperactivity, including an inability to remain seated for long or play quietly.
- Learning difficulties, including an inability to follow instructions or work through complex or complication problems.
- Engaging in dangerous behaviours without thinking through the consequences.