The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends treating disruptive behavior disorders with behavioral intervention techniques as soon as symptoms are recognized. Many children with disruptive behavior disorders also have ADHD.
A child or adolescent has a disruptive behavior disorder when he or she has trouble with impulse control, tolerating negative emotions (anger, frustration), and following the rules. Some children and adolescents with disruptive disorders also have angry outbursts that can include verbal and/or physical aggression. Some defy rules. Some are highly inflexible, and go from peaceful to intensely frustrated in a matter of seconds. Disruptive behavior becomes a disorder when the frequency and intensity of the disruptive behaviors are severe enough to interfere with the individual’s life and family functioning.
While the symptoms of a disruptive disorder are easy to see, it is harder for parents and teachers to figure out why the disruptive behavior keeps happening. Parents and teachers often struggle, trying everything they can think of help the child. Parents of children with disruptive disorders often wonder if they have done something to cause their child’s behavior problems. Children and adolescents with disruptive disorders may feel chronically sad, anxious, or angry at the world. Psychologist Chaim Ginnott once said that when kids feel right, they act right. Fixing behavior problems is more complicated than just 'getting tough.' This is where a psychologist can help make lasting changes.
Recognize the ‘Red Flags’
- Typical behavioral interventions that work with most children and adolescents (sticker charts, time outs, punishments) do not help
- Families of children/teens with disruptive disorders are often highly stressed because of the behavior
- The child/teen chronically engages in oppositional, rule-breaking, or aggressive behaviors
- Parents and teachers report frequent ‘power struggles’ with the child/teen
- The child/teen has trouble tolerating everyday re-direction and reasonable limits from adults
- The child/teen gets in trouble frequently at school, and may have been expelled from schools and daycare programs
Support Services: What do you do?
It is essential to understand that children and adolescents with disruptive disorders are often doing the best they can. Children and adolescents with disruptive disorders sometimes have hidden disabilities such as ADHD or anxiety that make it much harder for them to meet behavioral expectations like the other children do. Your MindWell psychologist will make an action plan that may include therapy, parent coaching and/or testing. Our clinicans are also available to go on-site to your child's school to create positive behavioral interventions and supportive accommodation plans. Research has shown that with the correct treatment, these individuals do get better.