What are Disruptive Behavior Disorders in Children and Adolescents? – Dr. Rahul Mathur

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What are Disruptive Behavior Disorders in Children and Adolescents? – Dr. Rahul Mathur

Disruptive Behaviour Disorders (DBDs) can have a range of behavioural issues in children and adolescents, where they consistently show patterns of defiant, hostile, or disruptive conduct.

These disorders can significantly impact their daily activities and interactions. In this detailed blog, we will demystify DBDs to offer a clearer understanding of the signs and treatment.

Types of Disruptive Behaviour Disorders

DBDs are primarily classified into two categories:

  • Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD): This is characterized by a pattern of angry, irritable mood, argumentative, defiant behaviour, or vindictiveness.
  • Conduct Disorder (CD): This severe form involves behaviours that violate the social norms and rights of others, such as aggression towards people and animals, destruction of property, deceitfulness, theft, or severe violations of rules.

What are Disruptive Behaviour Disorders in Children and Adolescents?

The Signs to Look for Disruptive Behaviour Disorders

Identifying DBDs early can lead to better management of the disorder. Be watchful for:

  • Excessive temper tantrums
  • Arguing with adults or authority figures
  • Actively defying rules
  • Deliberately annoying others
  • Blaming others for one’s mistakes or misbehaviour
  • Being touchy, easily annoyed, or spiteful

For Conduct Disorder specifically, one might also notice:

  • Bullying or threatening behaviour
  • Physical fights
  • Use of Weapons
  • Cruelty to animals
  • Forced theft or fraud
  • Serious rule violations

Causes of Disruptive Behaviour Disorders

No single cause has been pinpointed for DBDs, but factors leading to these disorders can include:

  • Genetic Influences: A family history of DBDs or other mental health disorders can increase risks.
  • Brain Development: Issues with the development of certain parts of the brain that control behaviour, emotions, and decision-making can contribute to DBDs.
  • Environmental Factors: Chaotic family life, lack of supervision, harsh discipline, or exposure to violence and abuse can heighten the risk.

Diagnosing Of Disruptive Behaviour Disorders

Diagnosis is key to management and typically involves:

  • Clinical Assessment: A comprehensive evaluation by a child psychiatrist or psychologist, including interviews with parents and the child.
  • Questionnaires and Rating Scales: Tools to assess the frequency and severity of symptoms.
  • Observing Behaviour: Sometimes, clinicians might observe the child’s behaviour in different settings.

Impact and Management Strategies of Disruptive Behaviour Disorders

DBDs can significantly impact schooling, family life, and social development. However, with effective intervention, children can learn to cope and manage their behaviours better. Strategies often include:

  • Behavioural Therapy: Aims to improve communication and problem-solving skills and reduce negative behaviours.
  • Parental Training Programs: These equip parents with strategies to handle disruptive behaviours effectively.
  • Social Skills Training: Helps children understand and practice appropriate social interactions.
  • Medications: Although used sparingly, medications can help manage coexisting conditions like ADHD.


With the right support, children and adolescents with DBDs can learn to navigate through these issues more effectively, leading to a better quality of life for them and those around them.

Dr. Rahul Mathur
Consultant Neuropsychiatris

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