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Conduct Disorder


Conduct disorder is when a child's behavior is physically and verbally aggressive toward other people or property. A child with conduct disorder acts out in a way that is not appropriate for his age. The behaviors are repetitive and often start at a young age and worsen over time. A child with conduct disorder often has other mental health conditions, such as depression, ADHD, or learning disabilities.



  • Antidepressant medicine is given to treat depression and improve your child's mood.
  • Antipsychotic medicine is given to decrease aggressive behavior. The medicine may also keep your child from hurting himself.
  • Give your child's medicine as directed. Contact your child's healthcare provider if you think the medicine is not working as expected. Tell him or her if your child is allergic to any medicine. Keep a current list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs your child takes. Include the amounts, and when, how, and why they are taken. Bring the list or the medicines in their containers to follow-up visits. Carry your child's medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your child's healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Create a structured environment for your child:

  • Do not allow exceptions to the rules. Set limits and tell your child what you expect from him. Keep your child on a schedule. Set bed and wake times, study times, and free time.
  • Give your child positive feedback when earned. Positive words or rewards when your child follows rules will help promote good behaviors.
  • Have your child keep a diary. The diary can be used to write down feelings and reactions to situations. Your child can begin to better understand his own behavior and how to better handle stressful situations.
  • Have your child take a time out for negative behavior. This will allow your child time to relax and rethink his behavior.
  • Monitor your child for alcohol and drug use. Talk to your child's healthcare provider if you think he is using alcohol or drugs.
  • Talk to your child about safe sex. This may help decrease the risk for sexually transmitted infections, such as HIV.

For more information:

  • American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
    3615 Wisconsin Avenue NW
    Washington , DC 20016
    Phone: 1- 202 - 966-7300
    Web Address:
  • National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), Public Information & Communication Branch
    6001 Executive Boulevard, Room 8184, MSC 9663
    Bethesda , MD 20892-9663
    Phone: 1- 301 - 443-4513
    Phone: 1- 866 - 615-6464
    Web Address:

Contact your child's healthcare provider if:

  • Your child's aggression or other behaviors do not improve, even with treatment.
  • Your child does not sleep well or sleeps more than usual.
  • Your child will not eat or eats more than usual.
  • Your child cannot make it to his next therapy appointment.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • Your child talks about hurting himself or others.

Ā© Copyright IBM Corporation 2018 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotesĀ® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or IBM Watson Health

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Conduct Disorder (Aftercare Instructions)

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