Behavioral Disorders in Children Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Counseling

Behavioral Disorders in Children: Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment

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Behavioral Disorders in Children: Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment

What are behavioral disorders in children?

Growing up most children tend to exhibit impulsive or defiant behavior. Although with development such reactions and tendencies shown by the child may be substituted by healthy reactions and adaptive behavior, for some these behaviors continue to exist and may get even more extreme. In the mental health space, such symptoms fall under behavioral disorders. 

The most common types of behavioral disorders in children include-

  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)
  • Conduct Disorder (CD)

Symptoms of Behavioral Disorders in Children

Let's gain a clearer understanding of the symptoms that signify behavioral disorders through the major conditions.

  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): Children with this condition are impulsive, inattentive, and hyperactive. They constantly have trouble concentrating, move from one task to another task without completing the previous one, restlessness, following basic instructions, and more.
  • Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD): Boys tend to be more vulnerable to developing Oppositional Defiant Disorder. They tend to get agitated, argumentative, and deliberately annoy or harm others. In addition to this, such children seem to frequently disobey rules, throw temper tantrums, blame others for their problems, struggle with low self-esteem, and more. 
  • Conduct disorder: This behavioral disorder is also a lot more common in boys. Common signs for children with conduct disorder include lack of empathy, disobedience, use of weapons, aggression, use of drugs, dishonesty, criminal behavior, suicidal tendencies, and more. 

Causes of Behavioral Disorders

Research suggests that several factors can contribute to the development of behavioral disorders including

  • Biological causes-
    • Hereditary factors 
    • Brain damage 
    • Malnutrition 
    • Physical disabilities or illnesses
    • Pregnancy complications 
  • Psychological causes-
    • Intellectual disabilities
    • Issues with learning 
    • Temperament 
  • Environmental causes-
    • Trauma 
    • Divorce or dysfunctional family background 
    • Coercion from parents
    • Unhealthy parenting styles
    • Poor attitude toward education 

Treatment for Child Behavioral Problems

Having a child that struggles with behavioral disorders can be overwhelming, to say the least. However, with early diagnosis and treatment, you can learn to understand and manage the symptoms. 

  • Education of parents: It includes educating the parents about the problems and how to manage the children and also about communication.
  • Family therapy: The whole family is educated on communication strategies and problem-solving skills that can help tackle daily issues. 
  • Cognitive behavior therapy: It helps children understand and manage impulsive thoughts and behavior
  • Social training: The child is taught important social skills on how to maintain conversations and be cooperative with their peers. 
  • Anger management: With relaxation techniques and other coping strategies the child is taught to recognize triggers that may lead to anger and diffuse the tension before it gets worse. 
  • Support for associated issues: Behavioral disorders are usually accompanied by learning or intellectual disabilities. With professional guidance, the child can learn to manage both the behavioral disorder and symptoms of other conditions. 
  • Encouragement: Children with behavioral disorders struggle to follow instructions or engage in activities mindfully. Hence encouraging and actively supporting small achievements can go a long way in helping them gain confidence. 
  • Medications: Stimulant and non-stimulant medications can help manage symptoms. 

Behavioral Modification to Help Children

Forcing your child to change or correct their behavior is never helpful as this does not help them understand triggers and underlying issues that result in such symptoms. With behavioral modification that focuses on changing the environment to make it more conducive for the child, certain symptoms can be managed. The new environment can help your child stay motivated as it provides incentives when they follow specific rules or engage in appropriate behavior.  

For behavioral modification to be effective, consistency is key. For instance, if you praise your child for doing chores once make sure you regularly do so. Being consistent will help create permanent habits. Similarly, with inappropriate behavior, consistency in terms of giving a time-out or any other negative consequence is essential. This helps reduce the probability of such behavior in the future. 

As parents, it is important to note that positive results require a team effort. Hence you and your partner need to be on the same page while reinforcing or punishing certain behaviors. A clash of responses from both parties will only add to the confusion and prolong defiant behavior. 

Tips for parents to help children with behavioral disorders

  • Don't be frustrated: If the child is showing defiant or impulsive behavior that is uncommon like hitting, screaming, reacting to it may only reinforce their actions. So the next time you are in such a situation take a step back and wait till the situation simmers down. 
  • Have a talk: After the child become calm, discuss the tantrums and their reaction. Instead of expressing maladaptive reactions, you can learn to find tools that allow them to share their feelings more healthily and adaptively. 
  • Avoid the situations: Once you recognize the triggers that lead to impulsive behavior, try to avoid the situation or divert the child’s mind to other activities. 
  • Observe the child: If changes in behavior are obvious and severe, seek professional help immediately.  

We understand that children with behavioral problems face many difficulties at home and also in the school environment. Hence with treatment and guidance from experts, you as parents can identify the changes in child behavior and help them to cope with the problems. For behavior modifications for your child, call our child psychologist at +919741476476.


1. How do you treat child behavior problems?

Several strategies can be used to treat a child’s behavioral issues including- 

  • Educating the parents
  • Family therapy 
  • Behavioral modifications
  • Medications
  • Social skills training 
  • Anger management techniques
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy

2. How do you treat behavioral disorders in children?

Research suggests multiple techniques to manage and overcome the symptoms of behavioral disorders. Common ones include- 

  • Family therapy 
  • Behavioral modifications
  • Medications
  • Anger management and social skills training 

3. What is the treatment method for problematic children?

Our experts recommend seeking early diagnosis and treatment for behavioral disorders in children. With treatment techniques that include family therapy, cognitive behavior therapy, anger management, mindfulness techniques, and medications, your child can learn to manage symptoms effectively.

4. What is behavioral therapy for a child?

Behavioral therapy for a child entails anger management, social skills training, relaxation techniques, and more. The core of any therapeutic modality is to address underlying conditions or triggers and determine strategies that can help your child cope with the same. Further, through the use of incentives and punishments in behavioral modification, your child can develop healthy habits. 

5. What are the symptoms of behavioral disorders?

The symptoms of behavioral disorders include-

  • Disobedience
  • Impulsivity
  • Inattention
  • Hyperactivity
  • Dishonesty
  • Aggression and agitation

6. How to treat behavioral disorders?

Early diagnosis and treatment for behavioral disorders can go a long way in managing symptoms. Specific techniques that have proven to be effective in treating the condition include- 

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy 
  • Family therapy 
  • Medications
  • Anger management and social skills training 

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