Managing disruptive behaviour disorders in children

Stephen Scott, Clare Bailey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The age at which individuals are most physically aggressive is 22 months. However, some children fail to inhibit this normal aggression and by the time they are three or four are showing signs of oppositional defiant disorder. In older children persistent antisocial behaviour is classified as conduct disorder. At any age, antisocial behaviour is on a continuum, and while the most severe 5% or so will meet diagnostic criteria, those falling short are often described as having conduct problems. Epidemiological follow-up surveys show that the risk of poor outcomes in antisocial children is very high. The causes are multiple but two sets of factors stand out. First, genetic predisposition. Even children adopted away from violent or criminal parents have three or four times the rate of antisocial behaviour and second, poor parenting. Watching and waiting is a reasonable strategy if the antisocial behaviour is not very severe. It is important to be vigilant for severe tantrums or aggression occurring almost every day, harsh, rough, or inconsistent parenting and coexistent ADHD. If severity is moderate, referral to an evidence-based parenting group would be a good first move. If this fails to make things better, or if the child or parent has a comorbid condition, referral to CAMHS is indicated. For older children, aged 10 to 17, there are effective interventions such as anger management CBT and parenting groups for adolescents.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-21
Number of pages3
Issue number1761
Publication statusPublished - May 2013


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attention Deficit and Disruptive Behavior Disorders
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Conduct Disorder
  • Family Therapy
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Parents


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