Conduct Disorder

What is Conduct Disorder (CD)?

Image Click Here to watch Dr. Eddy's video on conduct problems in children

A repetitive and persistent pattern of behavior in which children or adolescents violate rules and the basic rights of others. The behavior pattern is usually present in a variety of settings, such as home, school, or community. Individuals with Conduct Disorder often initiate aggressive behavior because they frequently misperceive the intentions of others as hostile and threatening. They often have a number of signs and symptoms including, but not limited to:

  • Aggression to people and animals (e.g., bullies, threatens or intimidates others)
  • Destruction of property (e.g., deliberately breaking other’s possessions)
  • Deceitfulness or theft
  • Serious violations of rules (e.g., staying out at night past curfew; truant from school)
  • Lack of remorse or guilt
  • Unconcerned about performance
  • Lack of emotional expression

CD may look slightly different in each child, but typically consists of symptoms caused by aggression. It is not uncommon for children with CD to be diagnosed with ADHD and have a history of early problems related to Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD).

To learn more about recognizing and treating conduct problems in children, please click here to watch a brief interview with an expert.

This sounds like my child! What can I do?

If you recognize any of these challenges in your child, call us at 305-348-0477 or request information at ccf@fiu.edu to learn more.

  • Schedule an assessment – CD can be diagnosed by one of our mental health providers at the Center for Children and Families (CCF). Using carefully validated interviews, our clinicians, counselors, and staff can determine whether the symptoms your child is experiencing are related to CD or another condition.
  • Seek appropriate care – Many psychosocial therapies have been shown to effectively reduce difficulties common in children with CD and other externalizing behavior disorders. The CCF provides a number of these well-researched services – also known as evidence-based treatments – through our many clinical and research programs. Some medications have also been shown to help reduce the difficulties associated with chronic aggression but typically only when children experience co-occurring ADHD.
    • Contingency Management Programs- 1) establish clear behavioral goals that gradually shape a child’s behavior in areas of specific concern, 2) develop a system to monitor whether the child is reaching these goals, 3) have a system to reinforce appropriate steps toward reaching these goals, and 4) provide consequences for inappropriate behavior
    • Behavioral Parent Training Programs- 1) improve the quality of parent-child interactions, 2) improve parents’ ability to monitor and supervise their children, and 3) teach parents more effective discipline strategies
    • Cognitive-Behavioral Skills Training- designed to overcome deficits in social cognition and social problem-solving experienced by many children and adolescents with behavioral difficulties
    • Stimulant Medication- has been effective in reducing conduct problems in children with both ADHD and CD or ODD. There is little evidence to date that stimulants reduce conduct problems for children without an added diagnosis of ADHD.