How to help someone with conduct disorders

January 6, 2022
Asifa Rapaiee

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It can be challenging when you have a loved one that has been diagnosed with a conduct disorder. It is a disorder that affects the child’s behaviour, as well as others in the child’s life. Fortunately, there are some things that you can do to help. These are discussed below.

Understand conduct disorders

It is a good idea to read as much information about conduct disorders as you can. Understanding this disorder and what it means, can help you to recognize the ways that your loved one is affected and the ways that you can help.

To read more information on conduct disorders, you can view our pages on conduct disorders and getting help for conduct disorders.

Help them to find the right support

If the challenging behaviours begin to get out of control, you should get professional support. You can contact the following services:

  • The GP
  • Mental health services
  • School special education needs coordinator (SENCO)
  • Parent/carer training for children with behavioural problems

Be positive and have hope

Continuous misbehaviour is not easy for any parent or carer to cope with. But it is important to stay positive and continue to believe that the behaviour can stop, as long as you follow the advice from professionals and stay consistent.

Give more attention to good behaviours

It can be easy to pay a lot of attention to the negative behaviours. Try to shift your attention to the positive behaviours, no matter how small and give praises. This is important because often times the child misbehaves as a way of getting attention. This will help them to understand that misbehaving will not get them what they want.

Be clear and consistent about rules and boundaries

Explain and show that there are consequences for their behaviour. Let them know the boundaries between acceptable and unacceptable behaviours. For example, it is okay to feel frustrated, but it is never okay to hit your brother or sister. If you hit, you will have a time out.

It is also important for all parents/carers to follow the same rules and boundaries. This will help the child to understand that the boundaries stay the same no matter who they are with.

Point out their strengths

It is good to remind your child about the things they are good at. It can be easy to focus on all the ways that they misbehave and can’t seem to listen. This can cause the child to act up even more.

Point out their strengths and the areas where they do well. This will help them to build their self-esteem and will encourage them to have more positive behaviours.

Encourage them to stay physically active

Doing physical activities such as exercise can help the child to release excessive energy. Exercise can help them to focus their attention and energy in a healthy way. You could invite them out for any type of exercise that will get them moving (e.g. a walk, jog, group exercise class).

These activities will also help to release ‘feel good’ chemicals in the brain, which can fight off other problems, such as depression or anxiety.

Look after yourself too

It is extremely important for you to look after yourself. Whether you are a parent, family member or a friend, you will be in a better position to give help, as long as you are taking care of your own well-being too. To do this you might:

  • Get other family members also involved in supporting your loved one
  • Schedule some time off for yourself
  • See a professional that can support your mental health

To read more about looking after yourself, see our page on self-care when helping someone else.

List of useful resources

Nip in the Bud

To read general information about conduct disorders on the Nip in the Bud website, you can click here to access the link.


To read information about helping someone with anger problems on the MIND website, you can click here to access the link.


To read more information about conduct disorders on the Royal College of Psychiatrists website, you can click here to access the link.

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