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Disruptive Behavior Disorders

A daily challenge

Disruptive behavior disorders are those problems generally associated with young people in school and family settings, in which a child shows an inability to focus, a tendency towards defiance and rule breaking, and failure to integrate actions with the needs of the greater group. These are treated in a variety of ways to help children succeed in school and social settings.

A wide range of disorders

  • Many problems, and many causes
  • Shared treatment approaches
  • A long process with adulthood the final solution

Shared effect, but different sources

There are many conditions that can be considered disruptive behavior disorders, and their causes are diverse. Problems can be purely developmental, in the sense of a child whose natural maturation arc lags behind his or her peers. Problems can be caused by imbalances in brain chemistry. Some problems are caused by stress or trauma, whether at home or in the world beyond. Regardless of the causes, the symptoms are similar: defiance, rule breaking, acting out, anger, lack of focus, inattention, tantrums, restlessness, aggression, and more.

Parents whose children are demonstrating such symptoms face a severe situation. Disruptive behavior disorders interfere with a child’s home life, educational success, and social integration, leaving almost no aspect of the child’s relationships stable and secure. Throughout history, parents have resorted to many approaches to a defiant, or disruptive child, from corporal punishment to modern medication-based approaches.

Among the more effective approaches is counseling, combined with some level of reinforcing medication. By offering a child a safety net in his or her need to control behaviors, medication can reduce many of the stresses that cause or trigger the condition. By then augmenting that slight security with careful training and education, a child is given the tools to achieve for him or herself what the medication has achieved in the short term.

Other counselors, wary of the potential for over-medication, and uncertain of the long-term damage that might be done by dosing children during their developmental years, choose to focus on counseling, training, and altering the environments the child encounters, in some cases removing a child from settings he or she is unable to navigate yet. This process avoids one set of issues, while presenting parents with the new challenge of finding more wholesome and supportive settings for a disruptive child.

A long-haul solution to disruptive behavior

There are no quick fixes for most forms of disruptive behavior disorder. In many instances the condition can be modified or ameliorated, but not removed by anything but time, and experience on the part of the child. To give a child the best chance of a normal, happy childhood filled with sufficient socialization and educational elements, turning to counseling in one form or another is the best choice.

A counselor will work with you, your family, and your child to bring disruptive behaviors under control, and replace them with focused activities that can integrate with the needs of the family and the schoolroom. Among the harder challenges is to obtain a child’s cooperation in this. Finding a skilled and experienced child psychologist to help with the process is a good place to begin.

A good referral agency has already done many rounds of pre-selection before you contact them. Their knowledge of the professionals they offer, and their ability to match a client with a potential counselor must be of a high order to ensure continuing business. By drawing on that expertise you shorten your search and improve your options, increasing the odds of a great outcome for you and your child.

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