Not Just Teenage Rebellion, It's Conduct Disorder

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Not Just Teenage Rebellion, It's Conduct Disorder

Parents may call it "disobeying", but for some studies, children and teenagers do experience Conduct Disorder / Photo by: Svetography via Shutterstock


Most children may display aggressive, unruly and destructive behavior from time to time. However, when these actions and behaviors become habitual and persistent, this pattern can be considered as not being normal. When a teenager or a child keeps violating the rights of others and the rules, they may be individuals who may be diagnosed with Conduct Disorder.

The symptoms of a child or a teen suffering from Conduct Disorder start to appear between the ages of ten to 13.

This condition is found in children to teens ranging from the ages nine to 17. It is estimated that one to four percent in the general population have Conduct Disorder.


Conduct Disorder (CD) is defined by PsychPoint as a condition wherein a child or adolescent may show excessive misconduct which can be considered criminal.

They are often seen as dangerous or troublesome individuals. They often show threatening or aggressive behavior which makes others not want to interact with them.

A person with CD may have difficulty in restraining their emotions. Several studies show that people who are affected by this disorder may inwardly be experiencing anxiety and depression.


Subtypes of Conduct Disorder

There are two known types of CD. According to psychologist Steve Bressert, these are:

1. Childhood-Onset Type

This type of CD manifests before the age of ten.

These are typically male and exhibit aggressive behaviors towards other people, have unstable friendships and may have had oppositional defiant disorder during their early childhood.

Children with persistent conduct disorder are prone to develop adult Antisocial Personality Disorder.

2. Adolescent-Onset Type

In contrast to the previous subtype, their symptoms of Conduct disorder may only appear after the age of ten.

They have a lesser probability of acquiring Antisocial Personality Disorder or develop a persistent Conduct Disorder.


Kinds of Disruptive Behaviors

Adolescents and children who suffer from Conduct Disorder engage in many forms of destructive behaviors. These are:

1. Aggression to people or animals

- They persistently attempt to bully, threaten and intimidate others.

- They are often the ones who start physical fights

- They may have used a weapon to harm others

- They may tend to engage in acts of  physical cruelty towards people and animals

- Have stolen while being faced with the victim

- Forcing someone to have sex with them


2. Destruction of Property

- Has purposely set fire with the aim of causing damage

- Has tried to break other people’s things or property in other ways


3. Deceitfulness or theft

- Has broken into other people’s houses, buildings or cars

- Tries to scam others by lying in order to receive favors and goods

- Has stolen items that are not costly


4. Serious violation of rules

Has the tendency to stay outside during late hours against their parents’ prohibitions since age 13

Has run away from home at least twice and has not returned for long periods of time

Keeps avoiding their student responsibilities or often does not attend school



According to Thrivetalk, if a youth shows these behaviors then they may be considered as one of those affected by Conduct Disorder:

1. Physically abusing other people or animals

2. Bullying or threatening others

3. Destroying property

4. Breaking into buildings, cars and residences

5. Shoplifting

6. Lying

7. Skipping school before the age of 13

8. Attempting to run away from home at least twice


For some instances, having Conduct Disorder can be treated by available therapies / Photo by: David Pereiras via Shutterstock



Conduct Disorder can be caused by a host of many different factors. These factors may be:

1. Experiencing abuse in many forms which may include physical, mental, emotional and sexual abuse

2. Experiencing neglect

3. Having overly authoritative or disciplinarian parents

4. Having no household rules or restrictions

5. Residing in an area with a high crime rate

6. Attending a school with inadequate resources and high delinquency

7. Having a learning or developmental disability



Youth who have Conduct Disorder need immediate treatment to prevent it from further developing into the Antisocial Personality Disorder.

Treatment for this condition consists of therapy and medication.


An adolescent or child with CD may opt to go through these recommended therapies:

1. Behavioral Therapy

This therapy makes the individual aware of their behavior and the underlying causes of those behaviors.

Under this kind of treatment, they are able to discover coping skills that help raise self-esteem and change their behavior and social skills.

2. Cognitive Therapy

In this type of therapy, their therapist educates them on thought patterns that determine their behavior. Their incorrect ways of thinking are identified and they are guided on how to change their thought patterns

3. Family Therapy

When a patient engages in family therapy, they and their family members are taught how to build a peaceful and safe home environment. The therapist also educates their parents on parenting techniques that would make it easier for them to overcome their Conduct Disorder.




Some patients who have CD may be prescribed some psychiatric medication. This medication does not aim to specifically cure them of their Conduct Disorder buts helps them deal with other related mental disorders they may have. This may lessen behavioral and health hindrances while they undergo treatment.

Mental health experts strongly recommend that these patients participate in psychotherapy, especially family therapy since it would not only inform them about their condition but also help their family members support them which may lead to their speedy recovery.



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