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Understanding Disruptive Behaviour Disorders

November 25, 2022

5 min read

Author : United We Care
Understanding Disruptive Behaviour Disorders

Disruptive behaviour disorders (DBDs) are a group of mental health conditions among children and adolescents that cause excessively aggressive and disobedient behaviours and activities.

Understanding and preventing adolescent delinquency is one of the most challenging tasks that mental health practitioners face today, especially with the number of young offenders on the rise. Early indicators of disruptive behaviour disorder can be challenging to detect, but recognising the risk factors is a vital step to preventing the development of the disease; if left untreated, DBDs can develop into an antisocial personality disorder.

Before we study disruptive behaviour disorders and their challenges for the authorities, let us hear the story of a five-year-old girl, Rashi.

Rashi is a little girl with parents who are always busy with work, and Rashi thus spends most of her time with her nanny. Her mother has received numerous complaints from Rashi’s teacher over the past few months, saying that the girl is inattentive in class, sometimes becomes aggressive, disobeys the rules, and bullies other kids.

However, one day, Rashi loses her cool, steals her friend’s pencil, lays the blame on a different friend, and fights with her classmates. The principal summons her parents, who are taken aback that their adorable little girl could be troublesome. Rashi’s school counsellor then encourages her parents to speak with a child psychologist. After meeting Rashi, the psychologist concludes that she has a psychological disorder known as a disruptive behaviour disorder.

Rashi’s story shows us how easy it is to miss the signs of a conduct disorder such as DBD in a child if the parents are unaware of such mental health conditions. Arming parents with the proper understanding of conduct disorders can ensure more children are diagnosed and receive timely treatment. Read on to learn more about disruptive behaviour disorders.

What is disruptive behaviour?

Disruptive behaviour disorders are a group of mental health conditions seen in children and adolescents that causes them to become excessively angry, aggressive, disobedient, and prone to breaking regulations. DBD often manifests when the child is young, but you can observe the symptoms in those 12 years and older. Youngsters with DBD are aggressive, argumentative, and prone to throwing tantrums. If left untreated, in the long run, DBD may lead to the development of antisocial personality disorder in teenagers and adults.

Symptoms of disruptive behaviour

One can often observe the symptoms of disruptive behaviour disorders quite early, and many continue into adulthood. Children with such behavioural disorders may often break the rules, argue with authority figures, and lose their temper. Some of the prevalent symptoms of DBD are:

Behavioural symptoms

  • Social isolation
  • Bullying
  • Revenge-seeking tendencies
  • Lying and stealing
  • Willful property damage and blaming others for it
  • Actively disobeying or refusing to follow rules
  • Cruelty to animals.

Cognitive symptoms

  • Concentration problems
  • Frequently frustrated
  • Impaired memory
  • Failure to think before speaking
  • Lack of problem-solving abilities.

Psychiatric symptoms

  • Empathy deficit
  • Absence of remorse
  • False perceptions of grandeur
  • Negativity
  • Chronic irritation and irritability
  • Self-esteem issues.

Is your child struggling with social skills? Don’t dismiss these symptoms; read on to learn more about them.

Effects of disruptive behaviour

Many of us remain uninformed about disruptive behaviour disorders and their consequences. If a child’s conduct issues are unaddressed, it may develop into an antisocial personality disorder.

A survey conducted in 2012 on educators found that about 62% faced problems while teaching children with DBD, and 53% could not concentrate on teaching, had discipline issues and spent less time teaching the class. The educators opined that children with DBD are easily distracted in learning environments.  

How to overcome disruptive behaviour

Approximately 3 out of every 100 children in the US exhibit characteristics of disruptive behaviour disorders, according to research. In light of this, several treatment options for the condition focus on improving the relationship between the child and their caregiver.

Here are some tips from professionals on how to handle children with DBD:

How to overcome disruptive behaviour

Create and maintain the right mindset

Parents need to keep their calm while dealing with a disruptive child. Those with disruptive behaviour disorders tend to disobey authoritative figures. As a parent, teacher, or guardian, it is essential to keep calm and not become overwhelmed by their actions.

In a classroom setting, a child with DBD will frequently try to elicit an erratic response from the teacher. The teacher can quickly defuse this situation by maintaining their composure.

Establish a code of conduct

As a guardian, you must establish a solid and healthy set of rules, which should be communicated vocally and frequently and reinforced by visual signals such as a list of rules posted on the wall. When the child consistently upholds these values, you should praise and encourage them.

Listen patiently to the child.

Do not make hasty assumptions. If a child has something to say, take the time to hear them out. Listen to their worries, so they know you’ve been paying attention. It may not make a difference in managing the problem, but listening may help you create trust and understanding.

Treatment of disruptive behaviour

Children with disruptive behaviour disorders require unique treatments implemented at school or home. Anger management is crucial; training children to handle their anger can be done through counselling, love, and care.

Parental counselling also helps in cases of DBD. Children under nine years of age require parental and teacher supervision to deal with their symptoms.

Regarding medication, serotonin reuptake inhibitors can reduce depressive symptoms, and mood stabilisers help minimise negativity.

Regarding relaxation techniques, meditation is one of the finest strategies to increase focus in youngsters and help them cope with their disruptive behaviour. Please encourage your child to make mindfulness a part of their everyday routine.


Disruptive behaviour prevents parents, teachers and authority figures from properly guiding and nurturing children. However, as parents and educators, we must recognise the gravity of the problem and strive to retain trust and hope as foundations in guiding every child toward a healthy upbringing.

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Author : United We Care

Founded in 2020, United We Care (UWC) is providing mental health and wellness services at a global level, UWC utilizes its team of dedicated and focused professionals with expertise in mental healthcare, to solve 2 essential missing components in the market, sustained user engagement and program efficacy/outcomes.

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