Last updated: 4 January 2021
What are conduct disorders?
When a child has a conduct disorder, it is different from when a child is occasionally naughty and sometimes has tantrums. Conduct disorders refer to a set of disruptive and violent behavioural problems in the child that is severe and continues to persist over time.
Conduct disorders are known as the most common mental health disorders in children and young people. There are two types of this disorder: Conduct disorder (CD) and Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD).
Conduct Disorder (CD) refers to a repetitive pattern of behaviour, where the child or young person acts in a way that is anti-social by disobeying, causing harm or distress to themselves or others and does not act normal according to their age.
Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) refers to a less severe form of CD in younger children, where there is a repetitive pattern of disobeying, arguing and opposing parents and people in authority.
Causes of conduct disorders
The cause of conduct disorders is unknown. It likely involves a combination of genetic and environmental factors. These are some factors that increase the risk of developing this disorder:
It is more common in boys than in girls
Co-existing problems with learning
Co-existing mental health conditions
Co-existing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which is common in conduct disorders
Has a parent or sibling with a conduct disorder
Physical or sexual abuse
Rejection or harsh criticism from parents
Exposed to conflict between parents
Poverty in the family
Other risk factors
Physical or sexual abuse outside of the family
Involvement with other young people with behavioural problems
Using recreational drugs