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What is a Behavioural Disorder?

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 7 Sep 2016 | comments*Discuss
 
Behavioural Disorder bad Behaviour

Behavioural disorders are conditions in which an individual experiences alterations in thinking and emotions that result in challenging behaviours. Challenging behaviours can include but are not limited to, temper tantrums, arguments, lying, cheating, stealing and even assaulting others. At times almost all children will naturally engage in these behaviours, but it is the prevalence and severity of these actions that lead to a clinical diagnosis of a behavioural disorder.

Parental Observation of Behaviours
Whether or not to seek professional advice regarding a child’s behaviour is usually the responsibility of a parent. This can be tricky, because many parents see challenging behaviours as just a phase or stage of development such as the “terrible twos”. Parents should watch their children for a period of time before seeking professional help, and particularly observe:
  • Which disruptive behaviours are engaged in.
  • When disruptive behaviours occur (time of day, week, month, etc.).
  • Where disruptive behaviours occur (school, church, home, etc.).
  • Who is around when the disruptive behaviours occur.
  • The intensity or severity of the disruptive behaviours.
  • If there has been a major lifestyle change for the child recently.
  • If there is an underlying medical or emotional condition in the child.
A good rule of thumb for parents is to ask themselves if, after having observed their child for several months, their child’s behaviour is causing persist stress and/or distress within the family? If the answer is yes, then parents may want to consider having their child seen by a specialist. Counsellors and therapists are a great support for children who may be just as miserable as their parents about their own disruptive behaviour. Remember, children may not understand their own behaviour and this can make them feel out of control and just as unhappy as those who have to cope with their challenging behaviours.

Formal Diagnosis and Treatment of a Behavioural Disorder
Formal diagnosis of a behavioural disorder will be carried out by a trained mental health professional. Obviously the “requirements” or symptoms will be different for diagnoses of different behavioural disorders, but for the most part a clinical diagnosis will take into account both the severity of the symptoms/behaviours and the consistency of the symptoms/behaviours. Treatment of particular disorders will be advised at the time of diagnosis, but treatment types may vary among children of the same diagnosis and over the course of one child’s treatment as well.

Living with a Behavioural Disorder
Living with a behavioural disorder takes a lot of work from the whole family. Individual treatment and education plans will vary per child, but those who have the support of family and friends tend to make the most improvement towards avoiding less socially accepted behaviours. Though it may not be possible to completely cure a behavioural disorder, a correct diagnosis and competent treatment plan provide a firm basis for children to work towards eradicating problem behaviours.

A range of different behavioural disorders exist, but for the most part these disorders are similar in that they result in challenging behaviours. Though all children will display challenging behaviours in certain circumstances, behavioural disorders are characterised by more consistent and severe disruptive behaviours. Parents who believe that their child may have a behavioural disorder should seek professional help and support before someone, including their child, gets hurt.

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My son is 6yrs old. He was a very good baby and toddler but from about 3.5yrs onwards his behaviour can be very difficult. He is very argumentative and controlling he will give constant ultimatums and at times be aggressive and sometimes violent. He talks too old for his age and comes out with things he shouldn't at his age, my parents keep telling me to b more disaplined and stricter with him but he fights this and we get into a real battle which ends in tears for us all. He is very needey at bed time and will not go asleep without me lying with him. He loves his little sister but will sometimes be really mean to her. In reception the teacher constantly called me in about his behaviour. In year 1 he had a male teacher who said he was easily distracted and no concentration but wasn't badly behaved. He said he found him frustrating as everything is on his terms and he can't asses his ability as it depends on whether he wants to do it not can he do it and varies dramatically from day to day. He can be lovely if he gets his own way but the minute he doesn't he goes berserk so I tend to make sure things go his way to avoid the outbursts and have a happier time for us all. However this is just reinforcing his controlling and brat like behaviour. Do you think there is an underlying issue that needs assessing? It is reaching breaking point as family will no longer look after him after school and I may need to re-assess my career / job to be able to be around after school. Please can you advise me. Thank you.
Po - 7-Sep-16 @ 8:16 PM
Polly - Your Question:
My 11 year old daughters behaviour is getting out of hand. Het behaviour has become worse over the last 2 years. There is no problem at school, the teachers cannot praise her enough, they tell me she is well behaved, always does whatever is asked, is very clever and well mannered. What I dont understand is she is only disrespectful and bad behaved towards me and my mum (her nan) and nobody else. I know she suffers with child anxity because she has been under consellors previously for this. She does worry alot so I try my best to help her in every possible way, but she still is very bitter and disrespectful towards me. Her behaviour is getting so out of control, to tje point where I feel I cant cope anymore. If I ask her to do something at home, no matter what she always has to be defiant and back chat, then theres slamming of doors, shes screaming and shouting in my face, if I ask her to go to her room, she totally ignores me, shes even started smashing things around my house, telling me she wishes I was dead, shes wrote things on her mirror in her room saying she wishes that she was dead. Shes even kicked me and come towards me when shes angry. Shes late most mornings for school because shes insistant that shes not wearing what she has too. She moans her hair is a mess. I try helping her to style it but then shes ripping it out and saying shes not having it like that. I just dont know what to do any more, I am really at my wits end and so unhappy.

Our Response:
If she's fine when she's at school, it's likely there is no medical issue/mental illness involved. It could be a case of struggling to cope with puberty and that first step of independence when high school is imminent or just commenced. How does she react with her father? Are there any other siblings? Ask her school and your GP if they can recommend any tactics for dealing with her behaviour. In the meantime just try and reassure her that she is loved, try to give her confidence about her looks etc and make sure there are realistic consequences in place when her behaviour has become unacceptable.
KidsBehaviour - 20-Jul-16 @ 12:53 PM
My daughters 11yr old daughter has become worse since her dad and mum split up her violent behaviour has become so bad that she has almost pushed my daughter down the stairs and pushes, kicks and hits her sisters for no reason. My daughter has spoken to her gp who says she just has to ride it out.She has also asked for help from other sources who say the same thing. She has got to the point where she doesn't know who to turn to for help and is becoming distressed with the situation. Her ex partner isn't very helpful as he has told all three of his daughters to ignore anything my daughter says.
pammy - 19-Jul-16 @ 11:28 AM
My 11 year old daughters behaviour is getting out of hand. . Het behaviour has become worse over the last 2 years. There is no problem at school, the teachers cannot praise her enough, they tell me she is well behaved, always does whatever is asked, is very clever and well mannered.What i dont understand is she is only disrespectful and bad behaved towards me and my mum (her nan) and nobody else. I know she suffers with child anxity because she has been under consellors previously for this. She does worry alot so i try my best to help her in every possible way, but she still is very bitter and disrespectful towards me. Her behaviour is getting so out of control, to tje point where i feel i cant cope anymore. If i ask her to do something at home, no matter what she always has to be defiant and back chat, then theres slamming of doors, shes screaming and shouting in my face, if i ask her to go to her room, she totally ignores me, shes even started smashing things around my house, telling me she wishes i was dead, shes wrote things on her mirror in her room saying she wishes that she was dead. Shes even kicked me and come towards me when shes angry. Shes late most mornings for school because shes insistant that shes not wearing what she has too. She moans her hair is a mess. i try helping her to style it but then shes ripping it out and saying shes not having it like that. I just dont know what to do any more, i am really at my wits end and so unhappy.
Polly - 19-Jul-16 @ 2:58 AM
My 7 yr oldonly daughter is veryclever, doing great at school and is a model pupil.However at home especially at bedtime she is very defiant, will argue about anything - dont give her a choice - her common sense goes out the window andthen my patience and hers reach boiling point and we both explode. It is getting worse and if dad tries to intervene it just gets worse and there appears to be no reasoning with her or punishment that appears to show any impact on her.Dad says she needs to see someone ie a doctor but not sure where to start or where to turn.She can be anxious as well when getting dressed for school - I believe it may be a separation issue with me asher/me do have a lot of time together.any help/advice is greatly appreciated.
herbie - 12-Jun-15 @ 11:02 PM
@evie e. Could it be that she is struggling with something related to either her peers or learning difficulties? The school should be offering you some guidance as to what might be triggering the outbursts so you can seek appropriate help. As she doesn't experience this at home, ask the head teacher for more information and for recommendations for professional help.
KidsBehaviour - 2-Jun-15 @ 9:35 AM
My daughter is usually very calm but at school she has violent outburst. The teachers have compared this to a Jekyll and Hyde kind of behaviour that they find hard to control. I have been asked to speak to the headteacher on various occasions. I believe that she has behaviour difficulties but do not know what to do as she only behaves like this at school.
evie e - 29-May-15 @ 8:50 PM
My son is 14years old got ADHD behavior pprobs depression always.bad At school so they send him home and today was threatened by head if I didn't go up school she would call social services his full statmented but no spec list school can be offered as not any school averable
kimkim - 5-Feb-14 @ 1:33 PM
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