Disruptive Behavior Disorder (DBD)

Is your child struggling with disruptive behaviors? Your child may be suffering from Disruptive Behavior Disorder. Recognizing that your child might be struggling with DBD is the first step in getting them the help they need to navigate what can be a scary time.

What is DBD?

The medical world describes disruptive behavior disorders as a spectrum of disorders with the two main diagnoses being conduct disorder (CD) and oppositional defiant disorder (ODD). Put simply, DBDs affect a child’s ability to interact with others and can seriously impact their daily life. They can also appear in adults. As a parent, it’s frustrating to watch your child struggle in this way, but there are ways to help and you don’t have to figure it out on your own. We are here to help you navigate the next steps.

Where does a DBD come from?

Disruptive behavior disorders are complex and so are their causes, which makes it more frustrating as a parent looking for answers. It can be difficult not knowing what is causing your child’s behaviors and how to handle them. In general, they result from an interaction between biological factors (e.g., heredity and neurological traits) and psychosocial/environmental factors, such as exposure to violence or abuse. DBDs commonly co-occur in people with Attention-deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), though not always. Again, this can be frustrating as a parent because it can be out of your control, and hard to pinpoint.

Are there other reasons for these problems?

There are many possible causes for a child developing a DBD. More specifically than above, ODD and CD happen more frequently when a child has been exposed to certain activities and events, such as being separated from their parents, witnessing abuse of another person, or living with parents with substance abuse issues. These are just a few examples. To complicate things even further, other disorders and conditions can look like ODD/CD. This is why it’s important to work with a licensed professional who knows the differences and can help you pinpoint what exactly your child is experiencing.

What do I look for?

We’re parents too and we understand that when your child’s behavior at school results in trouble with teachers and other students, for example, all you want is to is figure out what is going on and find a way to help them get back on track. For all of you in the figuring it out step, we’ve included a basic description of CD and ODD below. Keep in mind that anyone can show these tendencies from time to time. The difference for those affected by ODD/CD is in the frequency and severity of these actions.

  • Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD):
    Children with ODD display patterns of angry or irritable moods, or behavior that is argumentative or vindictive toward others. They often lose their tempers, are easily annoyed, refuse or defy requests from authority figures or rules, blame others for their own mistakes, deliberately annoy others, or are easily annoyed by others.
  • Conduct disorder (CD):
    Children with CD display patterns of aggressive behavior and frequent violation of the rights and feelings of others.

How is a DBD treated?

First, know that you have options. Disruptive behavior disorders can be managed through medications, parental training, anger management training, family-based or community-based therapy that takes a child’s whole life into consideration (multisystemic therapy), and individual psychotherapy sometimes called “talk therapy.” The key is to accurately identify the disorder and the most likely causes so an appropriate treatment plan can be developed. Working with a licensed professional you can trust to get to know your child will make all the difference in developing an effective treatment plan tailored to your child’s specific needs and the rest of your lives. Our behavioral therapists at OBC practice Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and have one goal: to reduce negative behavior quickly and replace it with more positive and helpful strategies.

What should I do next?

The first thing to know is you’re not alone and you should not hesitate to contact a medical professional if you need help navigating this. If you think your child’s behavior may be caused by a DBD, the best thing to do is to contact a licensed healthcare professional with expertise in this area as soon as possible. Here are some common professionals to start with.

  • Your child’s pediatrician or primary care physician
  • A mental health specialist you or someone you trust already knows
  • Reach out to us and we can help you determine next steps

(720) 583-2382