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The Parents Toolbox for Extreme Behavior Disorders in Teens

The Parents Toolbox for Extreme Behavior Disorders in Teens

Behavioral disorders disrupt not only the children who suffer from them, but all of the people around them. The two most common are oppositional defiant disorder and conduct disorder. Learn about them and how to deal with life as you care for your teen with a behavioral disorder.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder

Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) is a persistent pattern of defiant or hostile behavior. Approximately 15% of adolescents suffer from oppositional defiant disorder, and it usually affects boys more than girls. Treatment involves therapy with the teen and with the family as a whole to deal with the aftereffects of the behaviors. In some cases, medication is prescribed to reduce the irritability the teenager exhibits.

Conduct Disorder

Conduct disorder is similar to oppositional defiant disorder, but much more extreme. The behaviors often go against societal norms and violate people’s rights. Approximately 10% of teens suffer from conduct disorder, and most of them exhibit signs in early adolescence. Just like in oppositional defiant disorder, boys are more affected than girls. Treatments involves therapy and treating comorbid disorders, such as ADHD.

Reactive Attachment Disorder

Reactive Attachment Disorder is a rare but complex condition in which teens struggle to develop normal attachment and relationships due to poor connections formed in infancy. This can be common with orphaned or adopted children, as well as those who are neglected, abused, or abandoned in early years. The symptoms can be varied, but treatment involves therapy and support.


Anxiety Disorder can be a generalized term to identify a wide range of anxiety symptoms in teenagers. Anxiety is commonly manifest in teenagers, and can take the form of panic attacks, depression, feeling overwhelmed or hopeless, fear or unreasonable phobias, inability to focus or function, and other symptoms. Teens with anxiety may outgrow the disorder or symptoms, or they may be indicative of a lifetime condition. Depending on the teen and the severity of anxiety, treatment may include stress reduction, exercise, therapy, medication, and other resources.