Behavioral disorders or issues are generally seen in children. Some may think of these children as problem children. However, their behavioral problems are rooted in a situation that the child is experiencing. All children have some disruptive or behavioral issues, but actual behavioral disorders or issues are more severe and last longer.

Behavioral disorders can stem from a life event, struggling with poverty, or a family event such as a death in the family or divorce that leaves the child feeling anxious.

In order to be deemed a behavioral disorder, the behavior must involve a pattern of disruptive behaviors for at least six months that cause problems at school, at home, and in social settings.  

Types of behavioral disorders and issues

There are several behavioral disorders, these include:

  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder – generally has a lack of focus, hyperactivity, and unable to control behavior
  • Oppositional Defiant Disorder – generally disobedient to authority figures such as teachers or parents, can also co-occur with ADHD
  • Conduct Disorder –more severe than oppositional defiant disorder is more aggressive and purposeful when breaking rules that can lead to criminal behavior
  • Intermittent Explosive Disorder – typically display unplanned angry outbursts without provocation that is entirely out of proportion
  • Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder – distinguished by severe grumpiness, anger, and regular eruptions

The last two types were added in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition.


Treatments for behavioral disorders include:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Psychotherapy
  • Residential Inpatient Behavioral Disorder Treatment Centers

For ADHD, there are some medications such as Ritalin that can help. Speak to your child’s therapist and regular physician about medications that may help and the side effects of those medicines.

The goal is to get the best care possible, not just stop the behavior, and that may be by combining several treatments such as CBT, psychotherapy, and medications where needed.