Conduct Disorder Interventions Help

Conduct disorder interventions can help your child, as does learning how to discipline a child with conduct disorder. Learn about both on HealthyPlace.

Conduct disorder interventions can help your child or teenager who has this diagnosis. Professionals at Johns Hopkins Medicine (n.d.) sort the behavior of kids with conduct disorder into four primary categories: aggressive, destructive, deceitful, and/or rule-breaking. When applied consistently, conduct disorder interventions help you, your child, and your whole family.

One of the most powerful assets for children and teenagers with conduct disorder is a supportive parent. If you are available for your child and willing to listen, their behavior is likely to improve. Establishing a positive, loving home environment also helps kids with conduct disorder. These kids do better when their home is a low-stress place to be and is structured, predictable, and secure.

Being supportive and creating a positive environment is often easier said than done. The nature of conduct disorder causes kids to resist authority and rules, have a negative or even angry attitude, argue, disrupt family life, and even be cruel to pets, parents, and siblings. How, then, can a parent be loving, supportive, and create a positive home atmosphere? Conduct disorder interventions help, and perhaps surprisingly, you can discipline a child with conduct disorder. Let’s look at how you can do it.

How to Discipline a Child with Conduct Disorder at Home

Just by reading this article, you’ve taken an important first step in disciplining your child or teen. Educating yourself is crucial to help you understand why kids with conduct disorder behave the way they do and how to reach them. Equipped with deeper understanding, you’ll be more confident in disciplining effectively.

The general principles of discipline apply to all kids and adolescents, including those with conduct disorder. When your child has conduct disorder, though, your approach needs to be intensified: more structure, clearer rules, and firm (but still loving) delivery and follow-through.

How to discipline your child with conduct disorder while they’re at home involves specific principles:

  • Establish rules that are reasonable, fair, logical, and consistent. Discuss them with your child so they know what they are, but don’t negotiate.
  • Set firm limits and boundaries. Stick with them.
  • To avoid power struggles around rules and limits, establish clear consequences, and let your child know in no uncertain terms what they are.
  • The rules and the consequences for breaking them need to be enforced consistently—the same way every time. Avoid giving your child chances to manipulate you or get away with something.
  • While difficult, remain calm in any discipline situation. Don’t react in fear, anxiety, or anger, and don’t create emotional drama. Your child wants these reactions and considers it a victory when you escalate.

A big part of disciplining your child with conduct disorder is establishing and maintaining a positive relationship despite the negativity involved in the illness. Stay connected to your child by talking kindly to them, being present, and encouraging them to spend time with you doing something they want to do. All this becomes easier when you don’t take your child’s negative behavior personally. His words and actions may seem hateful toward you, but they are only part of the disorder.

Your discipline efforts will be easier and more successful when you enlist professional assistance.

Professional Interventions for Conduct Disorder Help

Conduct disorder requires professional help. Interventions include:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for the child or teen to learn better ways of interacting with the world
  • Group therapy with other kids living with conduct disorder to help build social skills
  • Medication to treat other mental health conditions (medication doesn’t treat conduct disorder itself)
  • Family therapy, in part to learn how to communicate and interact with the child with conduct disorder

Professional interventions for conduct disorder should be long-term and regular. Keeping all appointments is important. When a parent is active in the treatment, following through with recommendations and communicating regularly, the child is more likely to make positive behavior changes.

Helping Conduct Disorder: Form a Team

When the adults in a child’s life coordinate their actions, everyone benefits. Work with your child’s therapist and school to create consistent behavior expectations and a system for consequences.

As the parent, you are the primary discipline provider, the one who keeps track of interventions from therapists, doctors, and the school, and the person in the best position to coordinate communication and information from all fronts. You also know what is working so everyone can do more of what works and less of what doesn’t.

In learning how to discipline a child with conduct disorder, be patient. Changing behaviors and attitudes takes time. Conduct disorder interventions help your child grow into a productive adult living a quality, prosocial, independent life.

See Also:

article references

APA Reference
Peterson, T. (2022, January 11). Conduct Disorder Interventions Help, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 25 from

Last Updated: January 16, 2022

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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