All children misbehave and go through times when they have behavioral issues, but there are times when it is more than that. It is customary for certain kinds of problem behavior to increase. But because all children go through stages of misbehavior, it can be hard for parents to know whether their child is just going through a stage or has a behavior disorder. The good news is that parents can often change their children’s behavior by making changes themselves. The most common disruptive behavior disorders include oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). These two behavioral disorders share some general symptoms, so diagnosis can be difficult and time consuming. A child or adolescent may have two disorders at the same time.
Oppositional defiant disorder is a pattern of disobedient, aggressive, and defiant behavior toward authority figures. This behavior typically starts by age 8, but it may start as early as the preschool years. This disorder is thought to be caused by a combination of biological, psychological, and social factors.
- -Actively does not follow adults’ requests
- -Angry and resentful of others
- -Argues with adults
- -Blames others for own mistakes
- -Has few or no friends or has lost friends
- -Is in constant trouble in school
- -Loses temper
- -Spiteful or seeks revenge
- -Touchy or easily annoyed
To fit this diagnosis, the pattern must last for at least 6 months and must be more than normal childhood misbehavior. The pattern of behaviors must be different from those of other children around the same age and developmental level. The behavior must lead to significant problems in school or social activities.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common childhood disorders and can continue through adolescence and adulthood. Symptoms include difficulty staying focused and paying attention, difficulty controlling behavior, and hyperactivity (over-activity). The specific causes of ADHD are not known.There are, however, a number of factors that may contribute to, or exacerbate ADHD. They include genetics, diet, social and physical environments.
Lack of concentration, hyperactivity, and impulsivity are the key behaviors of ADHD. It is normal for all children to be lacking concentration, hyperactive, or impulsive sometimes, but for children with ADHD, these behaviors are more severe and occur more often.
Children who have symptoms of lack of concentration may:
- -Be easily distracted, miss details, forget things, and frequently switch from one activity to another
- -Have difficulty focusing on one thing
- -Become bored with a task after only a few minutes, unless they are doing something enjoyable
- -Have difficulty focusing attention on organizing and completing a task or learning something new
- -Not seem to listen when spoken to
- -Daydream, become easily confused
- -Have difficulty processing information
- -Struggle to follow instructions.
Children who have symptoms of hyperactivity may:
- -Fidget and squirm in their seats
- -Talk nonstop
- -Dash around, touching or playing with anything and everything in sight
- -Have trouble sitting still during dinner, school, and story time
- -Be constantly in motion
- -Have difficulty doing quiet tasks or activities.
Children who have symptoms of impulsivity may:
- -Be very impatient
- -Blurt out inappropriate comments, show their emotions without restraint, and act without regard for consequences
- -Have difficulty waiting for things they want or waiting their turns in games
- -Often interrupt conversations or others’ activities.
Currently available treatments focus on reducing the symptoms of ADHD and improving functioning. Treatments include medication, various types of psychotherapy, education, or training, or a combination of treatments.
Parents who believe that there children may be suffering from either of the behavior problems should consult their child’s physician immediately for a proper diagnosis.
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