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Living with Conduct Problems – Trajectories
Course Blog for Developmental Psychopathology (PSY330; Spring 2020)

Living with Conduct Problems

In the most recent classes, we have been talking about conduct problems and conduct disorder in children and adolescents. Conduct problems account for the majority of clinic-referrals for children and adolescents. Many special education placements are from a child having some form of conduct problems. There are two main categories of conduct problems and fall into conduct disorder (CD) and oppositional defiant disorder (ODD). The two are very closely related but do differ. The main theme of Conduct Disorder is the persistent pattern of social norms, rules, and rights of others. This may be seen as aggression to people/animals, destruction of property, or theft. If a child is experiencing some form of conduct disorder it may also be accompanied by emotional specifiers. These include lack of remorse or guilt, lack of empathy, or shallow/deficient effect. Oppositional Defiant Disorder is very similar but the major theme of ODD focuses on persistent negative, hostile and defiant behavior. This includes angry/irritable mood, argumentative/defiant behavior, and vindictiveness. Often ODD stems from CD, but showing signs of ODD doesn’t mean it will result in CD. It has been found that conduct problems are more relevant in boys and boys have earlier onset signs. 

    There isn’t much of a treatment for conduct problems, but there are steps on how to intervene. Many parents see that conduct problems don’t necessarily have a quick fix, there is no medication that a child can take to fix their problems. Child Mind Institute, an online resource for parents, explains that even though overcoming conduct problems may be difficult, it is not hopeless (citation). Through intervention and types of therapy, conduct problems in children can be greatly lessened. Something as easy as knowing the signs and symptoms of conduct problems in your child and knowing when to intervene is an easy way to help show your child when problems arise. If a parent/caregiver/teacher can see the problems that the child is facing and help them find a new way to cope and show their anger, it can help. Through positive reinforcement and intervention a child can learn new ways to cope with their symptoms. 

Child Mind Institute . “Conduct Disorder Basics.” Conduct Disorder Basics, childmind.org/guide/guide-to-conduct-disorder/.

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