Harvard Mental Health Letter

Options for managing conduct disorder

All children and adolescents act out occasionally, but those with conduct disorder consistently behave in unusually aggressive ways — sometimes resulting in property damage or physical injury. A review identified 16 psychosocial treatments that are likely to be effective for disruptive behavior in children and adolescents. Most of the effective interventions involved parents or other caregivers as well as the child. One popular approach is known as parent management training, which focuses on helping parents to better manage the child's behavior. A related model is known as behavioral family therapy. Therapists using this approach not only work with parents to modify a child's behavior, but also help them learn stress-reduction techniques, understand how a child's temperament can affect behavior, and recognize their own ways of thinking about the child's behavior. Medications and other therapies tend to be less effective, but may be helpful for some children. 
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