Conduct disorder is a severe behavioural and emotional disorder usually diagnosed in early childhood or adolescence, characterised by ongoing issues with social conduct, including disruptive and violent actions. The condition is compounded by a general disregard for following rules of others or institutions, and can lead to worsening behaviour as the person grows into adulthood.
The disorder develops through childhood and into adulthood, by which point the condition often becomes adult antisocial personality disorder. It is therefore very important that conduct disorder is addressed through professional medical treatment and support as soon as possible in a child’s development to increase the likelihood of a positive outlook.
Treatment for conduct disorder at Priory uses a series of behavioural and family therapy techniques to help your child challenge the negative thoughts and attitudes they feel with the condition. The flexible locations of Priory’s hospitals and wellbeing centres as part of a nationwide network of specialist mental health treatment provides an opportunity to help your child improve their behaviour in social settings, as well as allowing you as parents to find the best ways to communicate with them and help manage the disorder at home.
Does my child have conduct disorder?
If you believe your child may have conduct disorder, many people including their teachers, peers and family members may observe them as being poorly behaved, without realising they may have a mental health condition. The child will often appear confident and forthright when interacting with others, although the mind-set of your child with the disorder is actually one of insecurity, reacting in accordance to perceived intimidation or aggressiveness towards them.
Children with conduct disorder will display signs of aggressive or violent behaviour as soon as they are physically able, including pushing, hitting or biting others due to not having the usual awareness of how their actions may emotionally or physically affect them. As a child ages into adolescence, the impact of the condition usually increases, with extreme bullying of others, hurting animals, regularly starting fights, theft and vandalism listed as common behaviours.
This page was clinically reviewed by Dr Hayley van Zwanenberg (MBBS, MMedSci, MRCPsych) in April 2018, and is scheduled to be reviewed again in April 2020. To view all Priory conduct disorder specialists, please click here.