What causes behavioral disorders?

The specific cause of behavioral disorders is not known, but a number of factors may contribute to their development. Genetics may play a role, as behavioral disorders are more common in children who have a family history of mental illness or substance abuse. Environment factors, such as unstable home life, child abuse, lack of supervision, and inconsistent discipline, all seem to increase the risk of children developing behavioral disorders.

What are the risk factors for behavioral disorders?

A number of factors increase the risk of developing behavioral disorders. Not all people with risk factors will develop behavioral disorders. Risk factors for behavioral disorders include:

  • Child abuse
  • Difficulty interpreting the actions or intent of others
  • Family history of mental illness or substance abuse
  • Fetal exposure to tobacco or illicit drugs
  • Inconsistent, harsh discipline
  • Lack of supervision
  • Male gender
  • Parental substance abuse
  • Poor social skills
  • Stressful home or school environment
  • Unstable home life (unsupervised, transient, homelessness)

Reducing your child’s risk of behavioral disorders

A supportive, stable and consistent home environment may be helpful in reducing your child’s risk of developing behavioral disorders. You may be able to lower your child’s risk of behavioral disorders by:

  • Allowing your child to make concrete but limited decisions, such as choosing between a white or green shirt
  • Developing a clear system of rewards and punishments
  • Disciplining selectively based on the severity of the incident
  • Getting involved in your child’s activities
  • Redirecting your child to a safe and appropriate environment for activities
  • Reducing sources of stress at home
  • Rewarding appropriate behavior
  • Setting clear expectations


What are behavioral disorders?

Behavioral disorders typically develop in childhood or adolescence. While some behavioral issues may be normal in children, those who have behavioral disorders develop chronic patterns of aggression, defiance, disruption and hostility. Their behaviors cause problems at home, school or work, and can interfere with relationships. Children with behavioral disorders may develop personality disorder... Read more about behavioral disordersintroduction


What are the symptoms of behavioral disorders?

All children have occasional behavioral issues. Problems that last more than six months and are more severe than those of peers may indicate that a behavioral disorder is present. These problems can develop into chronic patterns of aggression, hostility, defiance and disruption.

Common symptoms of behavioral disorders

Common symptoms of behavioral disorders include:
Read more about behavioral disorderssymptoms


How are behavioral disorders treated?

Regular medical care for your child is an important first step in the prevention and treatment of behavioral disorders. This allows a health care professional to screen for and evaluate potential symptoms of a behavioral disorder.

Treatment often focuses on skill development for the child and parents. Children may benefit from cognitive development programs, social interaction ski... Read more about behavioral disorderstreatments

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Aug 23, 2013 Copyright:

This Article is Filed Under: Mental Health and Behavior