Ten percent of children have CD at one point in time and 75 percent of them are boys. Eight percent of children have ODD. What are ODD and CD? What are the behavioral symptoms? What should parents do about their children with ODD or CD? What treatments and interventions are available to them?
In general, misbehaving does not cause long-term adverse effects. A child may cry himself to sleep and is likely to forget the incident on the following day. In children with ODD and CD, however, the behaviors are hostile and defiant, not only disobedient.
For instance, it is quite normal for children to feel miserable temporarily, but not for a prolonged period, after being scolded for breaking a plate. A child with ODD and CD, however, would be deeply angered and feel enormous resentment by breaking more plates deliberately or doing other destructive acts.
A child with CD (Conduct Disorder) is likely to resort to extreme measures when they are angry over a misbehavior or disappointment. They would harm people (both children and adults) and animals, including making threats to kill them or even act upon killing small animals.
A child with CD might steal, or break into a property and rob it, symptoms of bullying behavior. Children with CD are likely to show significant judgmental impairment and most of them show the symptoms of ADHD.
A child with ODD and CD may impose a burden on society later on. Some of them may advance as rapists and murderers in adolescence and adulthood. Without early intervention and proper treatment, the society (including parents, educators and psychotherapists) will fail them. When their behaviors advance significantly in adulthood, it may be a case of too little help too late, especially when there are victims involved.
Causes of ODD and CD include biological and genetic factors, being conceived and raised in a drug abusing household, and exposure to a violent community and traumatic incidents. Lacking social support at home, where parenting is inadequate, also contributes to the disorder. Thus, it is crucial for parents and teachers to identify whether their students are among peers who live in families with adequate parenting and good parent-children relationships. The risks of having ODD and CD are more prevalent among families with low-income, single parents, schizophrenic and drug abusing parents and low education.
Prevention, of course, is preferred over treatment. “At risk” youths can be encouraged to join mentoring programs, sports and other positive activities. The stress level that they experience should be brought down, so they can feel worthy and enjoy positive activities.
When a child with ODD or CD is identified, clinical psychotherapists are likely to introduce sociocultural and child-focused treatments. In a sociocultural treatment, the whole family or the parents are likely expected to get involved actively in parent-child interaction therapy and parent management training. Parents are trained in how to interact with their child positively, using positive reinforcements, and establishing proper boundaries. The child with ODD or CD will be trained in how to cope with negativity and their urges to respond negatively with problem-solving skills and anger coping skills.
As parents and educators, we should always keep our eyes open and be alert of seriously defiant behaviors that border or may advance to criminal acts. If an angry child is behaving like a villain, they are likely requiring our serious attention immediately. It is better to be safe and intervene while they are young and treatable.
Comer, Ronald J. (2008). Fundamentals of Abnormal Psychology. New York, NY: Worth Publishers.
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