Children need guidelines, but unfortunately, they far too often push those boundaries or overstep them altogether. It is important that parents and children both learn to respect the boundaries in place – children by remaining within them, and parents by enforcing them with logical consequences.
Sometimes, parents need help learning how to discipline in a way that is not only effective, but constructive to the child. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry recommends treating discipline as an opportunity to teach, rather than punish.
When behavior and discipline become a problem within a household, a psychiatrist can help parents learn to identify weaknesses in their relationship with their children, as well as possible flaws in discipline methods. For example, parents who are overly strict or punitive may need to take a less authoritarian approach in favor of a discipline method that encourages mutual respect for the child’s needs and the rules. On the other hand, overly permissive parents may need help learning how to set guidelines and enforce them in a healthy way.
In some cases, discipline issues with children and teens is so severe, it is classified as conduct disorder. In order to be diagnosed with conduct disorder, a child must display conduct that consistently shows indifference to household, institutional or societal rules and policies. This condition is most often diagnosed in adolescent children. Symptoms of the condition include:
- Violent behavior
- Socially unacceptable behavior
- Combatant attitude
- Sexual Assault
- Cruelty to Animals
Children who suffer from conduct disorder must be evaluated and treated in order to help manage symptoms. Some children may respond to psychotherapy, behavioral therapy or even medications to help treat the disorder.
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