Conduct Disorder

Your 14-year-old son steals money from your purse. He lies about where he's going and he's skipping school more often. You think this is normal teen behavior. But it may be conduct disorder, a condition that can be treated. 

What is conduct disorder?

Children with conduct disorder often behave in violent or harmful ways. They may lie, steal or get into frequent fights. They might even carry weapons or assault others. 

Sometimes these children are thought of as delinquents. At other times, their actions may be dismissed as normal. Neither is true. 

In fact, many may have problems that have been missed or ignored. Some may have illnesses such as epilepsy. Others may have had severe trauma to the head or face. Some may be depressed or have other emotional problems.

Signs of conduct disorder

Not every child who gets into trouble has conduct disorder. But signs to watch for include the following:

  • Stealing
  • Constant lying
  • Setting fires on purpose
  • Skipping school
  • Breaking into homes or cars
  • Destroying others' property
  • Being cruel to animals or humans
  • Forcing sex on others
  • Starting fights often
  • Using weapons in fights

Who does it affect?

Conduct disorder is one of the most common emotional disorders in pre-teens and teens. It affects far more boys than girls.

What can help?

Behavior therapy can greatly help children with conduct disorder. The goal of treatment is to help them understand how their actions affect others. Certain medications may also help relieve symptoms of conduct disorder.

Your role

Dealing with conduct disorder can be very stressful. Coping with conduct disorder can tear families apart just when your child needs your love more than ever. Your support and caring are a key part of the healing process.

Help is available

If you think your child may have conduct disorder, we're here to help. Use our provider search to find a therapist or psychiatrist who specializes in kids/teens. Then call (319) 356-6352 to schedule an appointment, or use our Request an Appointment form.