Conduct Disorders in Children and Teens

Conduct Disorder refers to a group of behavioral and emotional problems in youngsters.  Children and adolescents with this disorder have great difficulty following rules and behaving in a socially acceptable way. They are often viewed by other children, adults and social agencies as “bad” or delinquent, rather than mentally ill.  Research shows that youngsters with conduct disorder are likely to have ongoing problems if they and their families do not receive early and comprehensive treatment.  Behavior therapy and psychotherapy are usually necessary to help the child appropriately express and control anger.  Treatment may also include medication in some clients, such as those with attention difficulties, impulse problems, or those with depression.

Comprehensive treatment should include:

  • Peer group therapy that is focused on developing social skills and interpersonal skills.
  • Medication may be used if other symptoms or disorders are present and responsive to
  • Family therapy that is focused on making changes within the family system, such as improving communication skills and family interactions.
  • Cognitive-behavioral approaches, the goal of which is to improve problem solving skills, communication skills, impulse control, and anger management skills.


Additional Resources

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry: Conduct Disorder

Child Mind Institute: Treatment for Conduct Disorder

Mental Health America: Conduct Disorder

Edited 2017 by Sarah Warner, MS