The Aggressive or Difficult Child

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MindEd provides free mental health e-learning for anyone who works or volunteers with children, teenagers or young people. The MindEd programme includes free online CAMHS training, counselling courses and mental health resources for teachers and health professionals.

This session focuses on identifying the causes, symptoms and likely consequences of troublesome and antisocial behaviours in children and young people. It covers hyperactivity and aggression in children, oppositional defiant disorder and conduct disorder. You will learn about assessment and intervention strategies for coping with children whose behaviour is difficult, as well as how to action plan or refer.

  • Most children exhibit aggression and moodiness on occasion, especially in response to an upsetting event. However, persistent antisocial behaviour is a serious condition with long-term consequences.
  • Symptoms of the condition include younger children being angry and defiant. Older children may develop an antisocial lifestyle that includes missing school, joining a gang, committing antisocial and criminal acts, and taking excessive amounts of drugs and alcohol.
  • The causes of aggressive behaviour are multiple; inherited characteristics such as a poor attention span, impulsiveness, poor regulation of emotions, and low intellectual ability. Ineffective parenting is often a contributor, particularly where there is little warmth or positive encouragement.
  • Assessment needs to carefully consider individual circumstances, and quality of parenting. Common problems include poor ability to concentrate, restlessness and overactivity (symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)), specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia, and the possibility of emotional or physical abuse by parents.
  • Children may have oppositional defiant disorder or a conduct disorder.
  • The mainstay of treatment is to work with the family to parent more positively. Parent training is well researched and results are usually good. Older children often benefit from anger management.

Access the full MindEd session here.
Content provided by MindEd. Author: Stephen Scott. Published: March 2014. Review: March 2017.

Now read about Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

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Document ID:
29128 (v2)
Last Checked:
09 February 2016
Next Review:
08 February 2019

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