Disruptive Behavior Disorders in Children

Disruptive behavior disorders are characterized by problems in the self-control of emotions and behavior, which interfere with a child’s ability to function at home and school. The child violates the rights of others or enters into conflicts with rules or authority figures. These problems include:

  • Frequent temper tantrums
  • Angry outbursts and irritability
  • Argumentativeness and defiance
  • Threatening or aggressive behavior
  • Destruction of property
  • Theft
  • Serious rules violations

Specific disruptive behavior disorders include:

Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD)

A child with ODD may have frequent angry outbursts, become easily annoyed, argue often with parents, refuse to follow rules, blame others for mistakes, deliberately annoy others, or act in vindictive ways.

Conduct disorder (CD)

A child with CD may deliberately hurt or threaten to hurt people or animals, purposely destroy property through vandalism or arson, steal, lie, run away from home, skip school, or break laws.

Intermittent explosive disorder (IED)

A child with IED may have impulsive behavior outbursts very frequently, or two or more outbursts per week for three months. Outbursts include temper tantrums, verbal or physical fights, the harming of an animal, or the damaging of property. Having three or more outbursts within a one-year period resulting in the damage or destruction of property or injury to an animal or person is also a sign of IED.

Other disruptive, impulse-control and conduct disorder

A child with this disorder may have some of the problems listed above, and they interfere with the child’s functioning at home or school. However, the child does not meet all criteria needed to qualify for any of the other disorders listed above.

Reviewed by Jason A. Lewis, PhD