Naughty children likely to suffer from mental health conditions as adults, say experts

Naughty children likely to suffer from mental health conditions as adults, say experts

Conduct disorder is a common problem in children below 10 years of age. It is normal for children to defy authority and to show unwillingness in following rules. But, when the infants behave aggressively for a prolonged period and are hard to control, it could be the sign of a serious mental health issue known as oppositional defiant disorder (ODD).

ODD is a serious mental disorder characterized by hostile and defiant behavior by children toward the authority figure. Such children are also found arguing and disobeying their parents and other relatives who look after them. Sadly, children diagnosed with ODD go on to develop serious mental health issues, such as depression or anti-social personality, during adulthood.

Emotional development starts as early as 8 months

Babies smile when they see someone familiar. They exhibit signs of joy when their parents hold or hug them. Emotional development in babies starts when they are just eight months old, but they are not able to express their emotions at this tender age. But, as the baby grows old, he or she tends to display an array of emotions, such as a sense of fear, sadness, rivalry or attachment based on various circumstances. However, during this time, some children also begin to question their parents and assert their independence.

Listed below are a few behavioral patterns that are not acceptable after preschool:

  • Refusal to acknowledge wrongdoing
  • Misbehaving with elders
  • Frequent mood swings
  • Using foul language or shouting
  • Self-indulgent behavior
  • Getting into repeated arguments
  • Displaying violence with peers

Clearly, a child who is aggressively defiant in his or her behavior and refuses to grow out of it, despite repeated admonitions, is likely to suffer from ODD.

ODD and conduct disorders in children

ODD is a conduct disorder, as classified by the International Classification of Diseases 10th Revision (ICD-10). Early diagnosis of ODD is critical as it is characterized by antisocial behavior that often culminates into criminal acts, if left untreated. Truancy and an inherent inclination toward acts of larceny are common in children with untreated ODD. Children with ODD find it difficult to form long-lasting relationships in school because of their unruly and self-absorbed behavior.

Apparently, children from families where either parent had a mental disorder in the past are more likely to be diagnosed with this disorder. As in other mental disorders, the pathology of ODD is associated with certain chemical imbalances in the brain. Hence, symptoms of ODD often tend to overlap with some other behavioral disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), mood disorders, anxiety disorders and learning disabilities, etc.

Some of the characteristic symptoms of ODD that bear a marked resemblance with other mental disorders are:

  • Truancy
  • Self-indulgent behavior
  • Getting into repeated arguments
  • Refusing to take the share of blame
  • Knowingly hurting others or using foul language

According to Liz Bragg, an associate specialist in pediatrics and a spokesperson for the Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), “ODD is often considered to be extreme behavior, for example, excessive arguing, throwing temper tantrums and blaming others for your mistakes.”

ODD, in fact, has many causative factors such as genetic, environmental or psychosocial. Children with a family history of mental illness and substance abuse are at a higher risk of developing ODD than those who do not have any family history.  Studies have shown that children with ODD display traits of ADHD, depression and anxiety disorders, which could further deteriorate the condition. In many cases, an injury to the frontal cortex part of the brain, which is associated with feelings and emotions, may give rise to ODD.

Road map to recovery

If you or your loved one is suffering from any mental health problems, contact the California Mental Health Helpline for guidance on mental health centers in California offering comprehensive treatment programs. Call us at our 24/7 helpline number 855-559-3923 or chat online with our specialists to get advice on the best mental health rehabilitation centers in California.