Adolescent disruptive disorder - anger out of control
The teen years are a challenge for most adolescents and their parents.
Teens are trying to find themselves and become independent - this independence may exert itself in emotions like anger, rebellion and moodiness. However, this is a normal part of the maturing process. However, for some teens, these years are a time of crisis.
Their anger is out of control and, for some, minor childhood delinquencies may escalate into criminal behavior, substance abuse, inappropriate sexual activity, self-destructive behaviors and suicide attempts.
These hazardous behaviors may be symptoms of Disruptive Disorders, the largest single group of psychiatric illnesses in adolescents.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, approximately 9 percent of all boys and 2 percent of all girls under the age of 18 are affected by one of these disorders.
What are disruptive disorders?
Psychiatrists generally separate Disruptive Disorders into two categories. Oppositional Defiant Disorder applies to teenagers whose symptoms include uncontrolled temper; resentfulness and resistance to discipline, but their actions do not violate the rights of others. Teens with Conduct Disorder exhibit many of these same emotional symptoms, but they also consistently violate the rights of others or the laws of society by stealing or vandalizing property or by harming people or animals.
How do you know if a teen has a disruptive disorder?
The following are some clues you can look for in a teen's behavior to see if there are signs of disruptive disorder:
o Consistently breaks rules, stays out late, or has run away from home.
o Loses temper frequently, often breaking or throwing things when angry.
o Gets in trouble at school, has been suspended or expelled, or is frequently truant.
o Steals, lies.
o Has broken into a home and stolen or damaged property.
o Gets into fights, or has threatened another person with a weapon.
o Has injured or killed an animal.
o Has been in jail or gotten into trouble with the police.
o Sets fires.
o Appears to lack a conscience or not feel guilt.
o Has forced someone into sexual activity, participates in self-destructive or indiscriminate sexual behavior.
o Abuses drugs or alcohol.
o Has mentioned or attempted suicide.
Anger, guilt and denial can sometimes interfere with parent's ability to recognize a disruptive disorder in a child. If a teenager you know has exhibited these behaviors, especially those that are illegal, professional help should be considered.
What causes adolescent disruptive disorders?
Anger and aggressive behaviors are often the result of underlying conditions that, undetected and untreated through the years, have increasingly interfered with the teen's ability to function and relate to others normally. Researchers have identified the following as potential contributing or casual factors in Disruptive Disorders: environment, psychiatric disorders, medical or biological factors, learning disabilities and ADHD, and drug or alcohol abuse.
How Parents Can Cope With Teenager Anger and Aggression
Children learn best through example, the best thing parents can do is to be positive role models for their children by practicing constructive communication and anger management skills. Parents can also help their children control their anger and learn to express it in ways that are healthy. By utilizing some of the following suggestions, parents can teach their teens new ways to deal with anger, stress or conflict:
Prevention - try to stop the teenager from escalating out of control. If he or she is obviously angry or upset, avoid confrontation while emotions are running hot. Wait until he or she has "cooled off" before discussing why the incident or conflict occurred. Together develop an appropriate form of punishment or restitution, and discuss strategies to avoid a recurrence of the incident.
Crisis Management - in some instances, tempers may flair up again, even after an adequate cooling off period. For this reason makes sure you speak to your son or daughter alone; an audience will only aggravate the situation. Keep to the subject at hand; avoid veering off the specifics of the incident. Recognize when you are not making any progress and call for another cooling off period.
Time-outs - the ability to maintain or regain control and composure is a critical skill for parents and teenagers to learn. Formalize these therapeutic breaks by having a hand signal or special sign that automatically puts a stop on the action.
There is help...
Because of the wide range of influences that may contribute to the development or complicate the existence of Disruptive Disorders, a complete medical and psychiatric evaluation is necessary. Depending on the findings of the evaluation, treatment may include individual counseling, family counseling or group therapy, with or without medication.
By better understanding the causes, the effects, and the treatments of Adolescent Disruptive Disorders, you can help a teen headed for trouble change his or her future. By recognizing the signs and symptoms of behavioral problems and developing new coping skills, teenagers and their families can turn confrontation and conflict into dialogue, mutual respect and understanding.