What are behavioral problems?
Although every teenager has bouts of defiance and impulsivity, persistent antisocial behavior often signals a deeper issue. Patterns of disruptive and antisocial behavior, especially those that appear in social situations, can drive teens away from their loved ones and jeopardize their future success.
Types of behavioral issues
Behavioral issues are often a symptom of a larger underlying problem. Every child acts out, but when it is frequent and intense, it’s serious. Never listening to authority figures, getting into fights at school, constantly being combative–these are all features of behavioral issues.
Here are a couple of the most common disorders related to behavioral issues:
- Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD): The most common, well-documented type of behavioral issue, ODD often appears early in childhood. Older teens with ODD may be easily annoyed, quick to argue with authority figures, and spiteful or vindictive toward even close friends. ODD appears across a whole spectrum, from mild to severe.
- Conduct Disorder: A loose grouping of characteristics rather than a single rigid diagnosis, Conduct Disorder describes several severe behavioral and emotional issues. Those who suffer from this condition may engage in serious physical aggression, destructive behavior, and violation of rules.
Symptoms of Behavioral Issues
Behavioral issues are essentially regular defiance, but with higher frequency and intensity. Instead of simply slamming the door in your face during an argument, a teen with behavioral issues may scream, break things, along with slamming the door in your face–and this doesn’t happen every once in awhile, it’s very frequent (multiple times a week, even a day).
Symptoms of behavioral issues to watch for include:
- Mood swings
- Hostile attitude
- Alienation of peers
- Lying, cheating, and stealing
- Destruction of property
- Deliberate disregard for the feelings of others
- Aggression toward people and animals
- Comments or behaviors inappropriate to the situation
- Failed interpersonal relationships
- Refusal to comply with rules or guidelines
- Disregard for the law
Risk factors for behavioral issues
Many things can trigger behavioral issues, but listed below are some of the most common:
- Physical Impairment: Children who were malnourished or who suffered neurological damage during early childhood have a higher risk of developing a behavioral disorder.
- Abuse and Neglect: Many teens with behavioral disorders experienced some type of mistreatment during early childhood. Events like early separation from caregivers, rejection by parents, poor foster placements, or sexual, physical, or emotional abuse contribute greatly to the development of these issues.
- Co-Occurring Mental Disorders: Behavioral disorders often exist alongside and are worsened by other conditions, particularly ADHD, learning disabilities, anxiety, and major depression.
- Substance Abuse: Although drug and alcohol abuse does not cause behavioral disorders, misuse of these substances can exacerbate existing symptoms further.
Available treatments for behavioral issues
Behavioral issues and disorders can be treated in a number of ways, these are just some of the most common:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): The most common psychiatric treatment for behavioral disorders, CBT has helped many young patients cope with emotional and mental challenges. This therapeutic approach focuses on overcoming negative thought patterns and hurtful behaviors by examining their effects in-depth.
- Residential Treatment: Although they’re not the right choice for everyone, a medically-based residential treatment center can give teens with behavioral disorders the secure, supportive environment they need to manage their symptoms successfully. These programs are a good choice for teens who also suffer from a drug or alcohol addiction.
- Medical Attention: Whether through medication or another avenue, treatment of co-occurring mental and physical issues can relieve some of the personal pressures that contribute to behavioral disorders.
Use our list of symptoms to evaluate feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. Branch out, look at other sources–if you’re worried your child is struggling with serious behavioral issues, assessment is the next step.
After taking an official assessment, speak with a medical or psychiatric professional to try and nail down a specific diagnosis and determine next steps.
Ask your care provider about the therapies, medications, or other treatments that might be right for you and your family. This could be individual therapy to residential treatment.
of the teenagers who went through individual therapy programs showed significant behavioral improvements in just 4 months.
who have ODD and also are diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
of all children will develop oppositional defiant disorder (ODD).
of teachers report behavior issues that interfere with teaching and learning have notably worsened.