All young children can be naughty, defiant and impulsive from time to time, which is perfectly normal. However, some children have extremely difficult and challenging behaviours that are outside the norm for their age.
The most common disruptive behaviour disorders include oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), conduct disorder (CD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). These three behavioural disorders share some common symptoms, so diagnosis can be difficult and time consuming. A child or adolescent may have two disorders at the same time. Other exacerbating factors can include emotional problems, mood disorders, family difficulties and substance abuse.
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OPPOSITIONAL DEFIANT DISORDER
Around one in ten children under the age of 12 years are thought to have oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), with boys outnumbering girls by two to one. Some of the typical behaviours of a child with ODD include:
- Easily angered, annoyed or irritated
- Frequent temper tantrums
- Argues frequently with adults, particularly the most familiar adults in their lives, such as parents
- Refuses to obey rules
- Seems to deliberately try to annoy or aggravate others
- Low self-esteem
- Low frustration threshold
- Seeks to blame others for any misfortunes or misdeeds
ATTENTION DEFICIT HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER
Around two to five per cent of children are thought to have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), with boys outnumbering girls by three to one. The characteristics of ADHD can include:
Inattention – difficulty concentrating, forgetting instructions, moving from one task to another without completing anything.
Impulsivity – talking over the top of others, having a ‘short fuse’, being accident-prone.
Overactivity – constant restlessness and fidgeting.