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Rule Breaking, Defiance, & Acting Out

Take me to the effective therapies for disruptive behavior problems

Rule breaking and “acting out” are some of the signs of child and adolescent disruptive behavior problems.

What are Disruptive Behavior Problems?

Children and teens with disruptive behavior problems may act in ways that are upsetting or troubling. This can include stealing, fighting, not doing what has been asked of them, or lying. These problems may also get in the way with a child’s ability to learn or interact with the people around them.

Parents become worried about these problems, because they can upset family life. These behaviors can also lead to problems at school, and even cause trouble with the police.

Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) and conduct disorder (CD) are the two main disruptive behavior disorders, and cover many problem behaviors.

Effective Therapies for Disruptive Behavior Problems

Parent behavior therapy with child participation and group parent behavior therapy are two effective treatments. They bring together tactics from family, behavioral, and cognitive-behavioral therapies. These therapies have been proven effective for treatment of disruptive disorders in adolescents.

Listed in the chart below are many treatments for each of these disorders. Although therapies are listed within each treatment, they can often be used to treat problem behaviors (e.g., aggression, disregard for rules, etc.).

Tested Therapies for Children with Disruptive Behavior Problems
Level One:
Works Well
  • Behavior therapy (individual parent and groups of parents with or without child participation)
Level Two:
Works
  • Parent-focused behavior therapy (group or individual, and including any of the following):
    • Individual child
    • Child groups
    • Family problem solving training
    • Teacher training
    • Self-directed parent training
  • Child-focused behavior therapy (individual or group, and including):
    • Teacher training
    • Parent participation
  • Play Therapy (individual or group child-centered)
Level Three:
Might Work
  • None
Level Four:
Experimental
  • Family problem-solving training
Level Five:
Tested and Does Not Work
  • None

 

Tested Therapies for Adolescents with Disruptive Behavior Problems
Level One:
Works Well
Level Two:
Works
  • Self-directed parent-focused behavior therapy
  • Teacher training
  • Child-focused behavior therapy (individual or group with or without parent participation)
  • Group child-centered play therapy
Level Three:
Might Work
  • None
Level Four:
Experimental
  • Family problem-solving training
Level Five:
Tested and Does Not Work
  • None

To find out more about how these treatment levels are defined, click here.

Source(s): McCart, M. R., & Sheidow, A. J. (2016). Evidence-based psychosocial treatments for adolescents with disruptive behavior. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 45, 529-563. doi:10.1080/15374416.2016.1146990

Kaminski, J. & Claussen, A. (2017). Evidence Base Update for Psychosocial Treatments for Disruptive Behaviors in Children. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology. 1-23. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15374416.2017.1310044

Last updated on: Aug 01, 2017

Evidence-based Psychosocial Treatments for Adolescents with Disruptive Behavior

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