6 Behavioral Disorders in Children

Like adults, children and adolescents can experience behavioral disorders that significantly affect their thinking, emotions, and actions. These challenges can have profound impacts, leading to academic difficulties, family disputes, substance abuse, violence, or even suicide.

Types of Behavioral Disorders

Behavioral disorders in children can manifest in various forms, each with its own set of symptoms and challenges. Here are some of the major behavioral disorders found in children and adolescents.

1. Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)

ODD is characterized by a persistent pattern of angry, defiant, and vindictive behavior. Children with ODD often argue with authority figures, refuse to follow rules, deliberately annoy others, and blame others for their mistakes. This behavior is more frequent and intense than that of their peers.

2. Conduct Disorder (CD)

CD involves serious violations of social norms and rules, including aggression toward people and animals, destruction of property, deceitfulness or theft, and serious violations of rules. Children with CD may engage in bullying, stealing, or lying, and are at a higher risk of injury and social difficulties.

3. Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

ADHD is characterized by patterns of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Children with ADHD may struggle to focus, sit still, or wait their turn. These difficulties can lead to problems at school and in social situations.

4. Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders in children can manifest as excessive fear or worry that interferes with daily activities. Common forms include generalized anxiety disorder, separation anxiety disorder, and phobias. Symptoms may include restlessness, fatigue, concentration problems, and sleep disturbances.

5. Depression

Childhood depression goes beyond temporary feelings of sadness. It can affect how children feel, think, and handle daily activities. Symptoms might include persistent sadness, loss of interest in activities, changes in appetite or weight, and sleep disturbances.

6. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

ASD is a developmental disorder that affects communication and behavior. Children with ASD may struggle with social interaction, exhibit repetitive behaviors, and have limited interests. The severity of symptoms varies widely among individuals.

What Is Behavioral Health?

Two toddlers with book, at least one upset

Behavioral health in children concerns how they think, feel, and act as they navigate through life’s challenges. It involves their self-perception, interactions with others, and how they make decisions. Just like physical health, behavioral health is essential at every life stage, influencing stress management, relationships, and decision-making.

Behavioral disorders, if left unaddressed or poorly managed, can significantly hinder a child’s capacity to flourish, both now and in the future. These issues not only impact the child but also place considerable strain on families, communities, and the healthcare system.

Who is Affected?

Behavioral disorders do not discriminate; they can affect children across all socioeconomic, educational, racial, ethnic, and religious backgrounds.

Whether in single-parent homes, two-parent families, or those with children who are adopted or in foster care, the impact is widespread. These families often share a common need for precise evaluation of their child’s strengths and challenges and access to appropriate therapeutic, educational, and recreational services.

Support Services for Families

Families dealing with children’s behavioral health encounter complex challenges. They often seek support to aid their children’s learning, development, and growth. However, the scarcity of affordable childcare isolates families. It restricts their participation in social and recreational activities. This often leads to significant expenses for specialized treatments or education.

Despite these obstacles, many families find strength in community resources. They turn to mental health centers and self-help groups for support. Yet, these centers sometimes lack the necessary services for young children, relying on public funding. Specialized care in the private sector often comes with a high cost.

Parents who have faced similar situations can be invaluable in finding professionals who can provide guidance towards more positive outcomes. Agencies specializing in connecting families with community-based resources, aligned with their specific needs, are essential. The Child Welfare Information Gateway is one resource that lists agencies focused on supporting families dealing with behavioral health problems.

One thought on “6 Behavioral Disorders in Children

  1. How do I get my toxic narcissistic ex on board with co parenting our son who has behavioral emotional and mental health problems?

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