Questions & Answers

I have a hard time disciplining my child. Does that mean he will develop a conduct disorder?

All children misbehave at some time. Only those children and adolescents who have more serious and consistent behavioral problems may develop a Conduct Disorder.

If an 8-year-old defies her parents and refuses to do what they ask her to do does that mean she has a Conduct Disorder?

CD is manifested in different ways at different ages. Preschoolers may be aggressive, oppositional , defiant and have tantrums. School-aged children may challenge classroom and adult authority, lie and steal. Adolescents may violate the law and community authority; they fight, steal, vandalize, are accident-prone and commit crimes against persons and property. An eight-year-old who has tantrums is not displaying age-appropriate behavior, and consultation with a professional would help pinpoint ways to help her change her behavior.

My adolescent son stays out late and doesn't tell us where he is. We don't like the friends he chooses, and his school work is beginning to suffer. Is that part of a Conduct Disorder?

It might be. A Conduct Disorder can cause problems in the academic and social life of adolescents. It's important to remember that the behavior usually occurs in a variety of settings, such as home, school and in the community.

My 10–year–old can be mean or bullying with his friends, and then he won't agree to say he's sorry. He usually says the argument was started by somebody else. I'm afraid that he's just like his father who never accepts responsibility for what he does. Are kids with Conduct Disorder like that?

Children and adolescents with Conduct Disorder may have little empathy and little concern for the feelings and well-being of others. They may misperceive the intentions of others as more hostile and threatening than is the case and respond with aggression that they then feel is reasonable and justified. They may lack appropriate feelings of guilt or remorse.

My 12–year–old acts like a big shot after he's done something obnoxious, like hitting our dog. Does that mean he has good self-esteem?

Although a child with CD may have an air of bravado, his self-esteem is usually low, and he has little tolerance for frustration; irritability, temper outbursts and recklessness are frequent.