Expert Q & A: Disruptive, Impulse-Control and Conduct Disorders

Find answers to your questions about disruptive, impulse-control and conduct disorders written by leading psychiatrists.

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Patient Stories: Disruptive, Impulse-Control and Conduct Disorderss

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Tips for Parents

Children and teens who are combative or very disruptive can be very challenging for parents. It is normal for many younger children (ages 2-4 years) and teens to have stubborn or defiant behavior that they will outgrow.

If problem behavior is severe, persists, or disrupts family or school life, consider seeking care from a mental health care provider who works with children and teens. Behavior that harms or endangers others, such as other children or animals, requires urgent, immediate care.

Help older children and teens to learn that they are responsible for their own behavior and that their actions and choices have consequences. Focus on important rules (such as rules for safety).

Parents can sometimes benefit from learning new skills to address their child's behavior. Parents can promote and model healthy behavior and stand up to what is wrong.

  • Promote and model healthy behavior you want to see
  • Praise appropriate behavior
  • Set limits
  • Establish routines
  • Be prepared for challenges and difficulties
  • Pick your battles

Adapted from Understanding Mental Disorders: Your Guide to DSM-5