All children misbehave. It is a part of growing up, testing the waters, and coming of age. The majority of children, however, learn from correction and discipline. They choose more appropriate behaviors when the next opportunity presents itself, because their desire is to learn from mistakes and enjoy growing up without chronically being in trouble!

Behavioral Disorders and the Home:

A child with a behavioral disorder appears to be wired differently. Having this child in the home is no easy task for parents or siblings. Whether a teen or just a few years old, when symptoms of Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) or Conduct Disorder (CD) are present, the child with a behavioral disorder rules the roost and calls the shots! The child’s manipulation, anger and hostility, and defiance grow as he or she consistently strives to control the environment. He may also experience symptoms of anxiety or depression, and/or ADD (AD/HD).This child has a very strong sense of entitlement, and the home may become a tumultuous place of unrest. Unhealthy patterns emerge for the entire family; parents become increasingly exasperated and regularly appease their child in hopes of bringing peace to the home, siblings act out in an attempt to express their frustration or withdraw from the family in an attempt to survive, and/or one parent and siblings may spend significant time away from the home in an attempt to avoid the chaos!

How do I know which disorder describes my child?

According to the criteria used to diagnose ODD and CD, there are some definite differences between these disorders. Both are behavioral disorders, and both present with unacceptable behaviors that must be tackled effectively for healing to take place for the child and the home. Additionally, it is imperative that parents not ignore behaviors associated with these disorders, as symptoms always have a chance of progressing in severity! ODD has the potential to develop into full-blown CD, and a small percentage of CD youth develop full-blown Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD) by age 18. See below for the diagnostic criteria applied for possible ODD and CD:

Does my Child have Oppositional Defiant Disorder?

For a diagnosis of ODD to be made, the disturbance in behavior must be causing significant problems in school, in relationships with family and friends, and in the workplace for at least six months. ODD will not be diagnosed if the therapist suspects that the child’s or teen’s behaviors are being directly caused by another psychotic or mood disorder, such as bipolar disorder.

Kids with ODD will show some of the same behaviors as those listed above for conduct disorder, including being very negative, angry and defiant. However, with ODD, one does not generally see the mean or cruel behavior that is present in conduct disorder, such as cruelty to animals.

Does my Child have Conduct Disorder?

This behavior disorder consists of a pattern of severe, persistent acting-out behavior and not simply an isolated incident here and there. In order to diagnosis conduct disorder, the disturbance in behavior must be causing significant problems in most or all areas of that person’s life.

More common in boys than girls, children with conduct disorder seem to have an inability to correctly “read” other people and/or emotions. They often misunderstand the intentions of others, defensively believing that people are threatening them or putting them down. They tend to react to these perceived threats or put-downs aggressively with little show of feeling or remorse. They also tend to generally behave in a reckless manner, without regard for normal safety issues. Children and teens with conduct disorder frequently will threaten suicide, and these threats should generally be taken seriously.

Boys with conduct disorder will be more inclined to fight, steal and participate in acts of vandalism, such as fire setting. Girls with conduct disorder are more likely to lie, run away and be involved in severe sexual acting-out behavior, including prostitution. Both boys and girls with conduct disorder are at an extremely high risk of substance abuse along with severe difficulties getting along in school.

How Can Brain Changers Help?

At Brain Changers, we treat children/adolescents with ODD and CD through neurofeedback and counseling. We also work very closely with the family during counseling sessions. It is imperative for families to understand that the earlier they seek treatment, the more quickly the child with ODD or CD responds to treatment.

Especially with CD, parents may become discouraged when they don’t see results right away. We explain it like this: A man takes a sledge-hammer to a block of marble. He pounds the marble 100 times and nothing happens. On the 101st stroke with the hammer, the marble breaks into pieces. It wasn’t the 101st stroke that caused the marble to break; it was the 100 strokes before it that caused the last blow to finally smash the marble. Thus, it is with neurofeedback. Each brain responds differently, but eventually, each brain responds to treatment.

When battling behavioral disorders, families often become shattered, and parents as well as children must break old habits and learn completely new coping mechanisms as healing begins. Many times, an overhaul of the family dynamic is required. Ongoing support with specific strategies and more effective disciplinary techniques are addressed and put into practice by parents during the treatment process. As difficult and painstaking as this is for parents and families already in crisis, the rewards are well-worth the efforts!

The integrated approach at Dallas Brain Changers works! It takes time, energy, and dedication to consistent neurofeedback therapy, yet the peace and restoration to the family make the journey toward healing very well worth the travel!

Call today to learn how we can help!