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All children have episodes of bad behaviour, some more frequently and severely and others less. However, experts warn that it is important to understand what causes the bad behaviour to rule out any mental disorder and correct it, reports Sade Oguntola.
Think, for a moment, about how many people behave when irritable. They may snap at their coworkers, friends or spouses. Some are likely to lose their temper and show very little patience.
Children who are irritable may be rude, disrespectful, and may refuse to do what they are asked to do. They are less likely to follow the rules at school or home and frequently talk back to parents and teachers.
Often times when children behave badly, it is easy to blame their parents, attributing it to lack of home training. Sometimes bad behaviour does not end in childhood. In fact, the teenage years can bring some of the toughest discipline challenges parents will have to face. Sulking, anger, arguing, lying, yelling, and rebelling are just a few of the ways teenagers misbehave.
Undoubtedly, all children misbehave at some point, whether by talking back to a parent or acting aggressively and this behaviour can be extremely frustrating to a parent. But it is important to understand what causes the bad behaviour to rule out any mental disorder and correct it.
Such mental health conditions as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may cause a child to have difficulty following instructions, to become distracted easily, to inappropriately run or climb on furniture, to interrupt people, to act fidgeting or to talk nonstop.
Although this behaviour is not necessarily the child’s fault, it may be perceived as bad behaviour. The brains of children with ADHD do not produce enough of the chemicals that keep thoughts organised. This disorder appears to run in families and may be linked to smoking or substance abuse during pregnancy.
Mental illnesses are a developmental brain disorder even though they can look like behavioural problems. Mental diseases in children are on the rise, sometimes even forcing them to commit suicide because many at times teachers and parents do not give proper attention to children or listen to their problems to save them from frustration and desperation.
Although the exact causes of many mental disorders are not known, but research suggests that a combination of factors, including heredity, growth pattern, psychological trauma and environmental stress due to poverty and hunger might be involved in many instances.
Dr Oluyinka Majekodunmi, a consultant psychiatrist, Neuropsychiatry Hospital, Aro, Abeokuta, Ogun State defined unruly children as those whose behaviour do not conform with social norms, who do not agree with authorities, are aggressive or obey rules but generally cause trouble all the time. Such children do not learn from their mistakes and most times do things in their own way.
“These are obviously behavioural problems and being unruly can be due to a poor mental health status. A child with an unruly behaviour can be said to have conduct disorder. If such a child goes on like this and then becomes an adult, such will be said to have developed a personality disorder.
Conduct disorder (CD) refers to a set of problem behaviours exhibited by children and adolescents, which may involve the violation of a person, their rights or property. It is characterised by aggression and, sometimes, law-breaking activities. It is one of a group of behavioural disorders known collectively as disruptive behaviour disorders, which include oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Some of the typical behaviours of a child with CD may include refusal to obey parents or other authority figures, truancy, tendency to use drugs, including tobacco and alcohol, at a very early age and spiteful and vengeful behaviour. Others include being aggressive to people, including bullying and physical or sexual abuse, keenness to start physical fights, using weapons in physical fights, a tendency to run away and exhibiting low self-esteem.
The causes of disruptive behaviour disorders are unknown but researchers have found that a child’s family life is a strong risk factor.
Some of the factors that increase a child’s risk of developing CD include parents who do not set limits on a child’s behaviour, lack of parental monitoring of a child’s or adolescent’s whereabouts, unhappy family life with many arguments, child abuse and aggressive parenting, particularly from the father.
Dr Adeoye Oyewole, a consultant psychiatrist, LAUTECH Teaching Hospital, Osogbo, Osun State, while corroborating that poor parenthood was a major contributory factor to unruly behaviour in children, stated that oftentimes many parents do not want to take responsibilities.
“Where parents bring up a child to keep only rules and he cannot be heard, the child may react to such a style of parenting by being unruly, especially if he sees that what he is asked to do, the parents do the opposite.
“Children are very sensitive; they study adults, including their parents. For instance, if the father beats up the mother or is an alcoholic and preaches to the child to abstain from some acts, the child may decide to deliberately be unruly.
“Also, a child that is over indulged could turn out being unruly. Take the case of a pampered child who is not used to being corrected when he does anything wrong or has his thought challenged. If such a child is corrected, such becomes rude because he takes it that his rights are being infringed upon.”
In addition, Dr Oyewole declared that some teenages resort to smoking hemp and take other hard drugs such as cocaine as a fallout of a parenting fault and lack of self confidence.
“The parents may have always been talking down on him and as such turn to look for acceptance outside and in other people. These mentors might later introduce him to illicit drugs such as hemp, alcohol and other dangerous drugs of abuse to boost his self confidence,” Dr Oyewole said.
Nonetheless, Dr Oyewole stated that in certain instances, however unruly behaviour might be exhibited by a person with a mental illness such as manic disorder.
“In individuals with manic disorder, there is increased energy and there is social dis-inhibition. Due to irritability, they get unnecessarily annoyed, especially such individuals at times think they have a monopoly of wisdom and that they can always have their way.
What is more, Dr Oyewole stated that children with anti-social personality disorder may also appear to be of bad behaviour.
“Such a child with anti-social personality disorder would have been showing traits of it earlier than the parents realised but the parents may not be sensitive and cautious about it. They might just assume that the child is tough and different from other children.
Anti-social personality disorder is a mental health condition in which a person has a long-term pattern of manipulating, exploiting, or violating the rights of others. This behaviour is often criminal. The causes of anti-social personality disorder are unknown. Genetic factors and child abuse are believed to contribute to the development of this condition.
A person with anti-social personality disorder may be able to act witty and charming, be good at flattery and manipulating other people’s emotions, break the law repeatedly, lie, steal, and fight often while not showing guilt or remorse.Share