Conduct disorder in kids: Therapies and Foods to manage it

Does your child frequently steal or lie for fun? Does your kid always get into fights or arguments ? Did he/she throw things or break the chairs, glass or other properties ? Does your kid act arrogant and threaten other kids? When this type of serious behaviour is frequent and consistent for a longer period which is unsuitable for their age, then it can be identified as conduct behaviour. Let’s know more about the causes, symptoms and ways to manage conduct disorder in kids.

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What is Conduct Disorder?

Having kids can be fun and happy but it will become challenging and tiring when the same kids become so adamant and throw tantrums. It is a very common behaviour among kids and teens to do so and they will eventually learn to manage their emotions. But in certain cases, kids engage in aggressive things like biting, slashing, and throwing things and teens engage in more serious violent behaviours like insulting, theft, damaging or burning the properties.

Conduct disorder is a chronic type of behaviour which is associated with emotional and behavioural issues. Children with conduct disorder go beyond normal misbehaviours and they will insult, harass, or yell at others. They have the habit of breaking the rules of society and other people’s freedom, they like to hurt others and treat them badly. Kids dealing with this issue lack compassion, are usually violent, and have no respect for the sentiments of others. Usually, conduct disorder first appears in school aged kids and teens, though it is also identified in adults. Boys are considerably more likely to be affected than girls.

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Causes of conduct disorder

It is possible that a lot of biological, mental and social issues are likely to cause conduct disorder. These issues tend to overlap with each other. Here are some causes of conduct disorder:

Hereditary causes

There is a high probability of conduct disorder being hereditary. This indicates that a when close member of the family has a psychiatric disorder, a mood related issues, or a personality disorder, it may pass on the conduct disorder to their offspring.

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Biological issues

The conduct disorder in kids and teens may be driven by the damage of the specific part of the brain which is responsible for controlling the behaviour, feelings, and impulses. Mental disorders including ADHD, chronic anxiety, or learning issues could be other biological causes of conduct disorder.

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Social issues

Family related issues, child abuse, traumatic events, strict parenting, poor education and insufficient monitoring are all highly associated with conduct disorder.

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Cognitive issues

Children with conduct disorder may have low levels of intelligence, lower economic level, and be rejected by society.

Also check, Asperger’s syndrome

Symptoms of conduct disorder

Children and teens with conduct disorder will display three or more of the following signs,

  • Get into fights
  • Often lie 
  • Not having empathy 
  • Not feeling guilty
  • Abuse animals or pets
  • Harassing, scaring, or assaulting others with weapons
  • Damage the properties by breaking or burning it
  • Violates law by committing theft

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Ways to control conduct disorder in kids

Treating conduct disorder is quite challenging as kids and teens hardly exhibit something inappropriate with their behaviour. Showing anger and forcing them to act good won’t work. The best way to manage kid or teens with conduct disorder is to move them from their problematic surroundings and place them in a highly organised environment. Here are some of the ways to control conduct disorder:

1.Dialectical/Cognitive behavioural therapy

DBT is a kind of cognitive-behavioural therapy that seeks to alter behaviour by helping people acknowledge and embrace their emotions. It seeks to alter their behaviour by acknowledging and accepting their current emotions and providing tools that can help with regulating their emotions and improving tolerance and mindfulness. This cognitive behavioural therapy has been adapted to accommodate the unique needs of children. Its main goals are teaching coping mechanisms, identifying problematic thought patterns, and regulating intense emotions.

Also check, Benefits of behavioural therapies


Psychotherapy focuses on assisting kids by having conversations with them individually regarding how to express emotions and manage their anger. It might enhance the kid’s self-worth and it can also help them to become skilled.

Also check, Therapies of Autism

3.Family counselling

Family counselling includes mom, dad, siblings and other family members to take part in the therapy session. It can aid in improving family communication and teaching parents some tactics for resolving conflicts with their children to make it safer in the family. In some cases, strengthening the bond between parents and children can enhance family dynamics.

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4.Group therapy

To promote empathy in kids and teens, group therapy will help. Group therapy can be performed with the classmates or friends of your kid which might help your kid to develop their social and communication skills.

Also check, How to manage tantrums in kids?

5.Residential therapy

When a kid’s or teen’s behaviour has gotten out of hand, in order to keep everyone safe, he/she can be placed in a highly organised residential treatment centre for therapy.

Also check, Common behavioural disorders in kids

Foods and herbs to manage the symptoms of conduct disorder in kids


All the nuts like almonds, cashew, peanuts and hazelnuts are rich in vitamin E and omega 3 fatty acid. Research has established a link between omega 3 fatty acids and brain development in early childhood. These healthy fats have amazing brain boosting power and play a vital role in enhancing memory and attention span.


Apart from nuts, seeds like sunflower, melon and pumpkins also contain powerful antioxidants like vitamin E that protect the brain from free radical damage. Sunflower seeds impact overall mood and mental processing powers and therefore it is considered a brain boosting snack. Pumpkin seeds are high in magnesium, copper, and much higher in zinc than other seeds, which help in increasing concentration and memory. One of the easiest to feed brain boosting foods for kids.


Jowar, which is rich in iron, can also lessen ADHD symptoms like anxiety, hyperactivity, and tantrums. Iron has the ability to relax the nervous system, which helps the child with ADHD syndrome to become more at ease.

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Gotu kola has strong anti-oxidant qualities and enhances cognition, memory, and mental performance. It gently relaxes the nervous system while also encouraging alertness—the best possible state of consciousness for any form of mental focus, study, or cognition.

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Spearmint extract has higher quantities of phenolic compounds that enhance working memory, spatial working memory and increase attention, concentration, and brain function by promoting the formation and protection of new brain cells.


St John’s wort contains chemical messengers like Hyperforin and Adhyperforin. These chemicals has antidepressant properties. The extracts of this herb enhance mood, focus, and also reduce anxiety and insomnia. According to several studies, adolescents with ADHD may benefit from taking St. John’s wort every day for four weeks. It is also used to treat problems including anxiety, exhaustion, appetite loss, and difficulty sleeping that might occasionally accompany depression.


The chemicals in the passion flower provide a calming and relaxing effect. Early research indicates that taking passion flower orally for eight weeks may help some ADHD symptoms in kids aged 6 to 13 years.

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The herb valerian has relaxation properties. Additionally, it contains some anticonvulsant qualities that might be advantageous for kids who are prone to seizure activity. Children with ADHD, cognitive impairment, hyperactivity, irritability, anxiety, behavioural regulation, and neurodevelopmental abnormalities can benefit from valerian for improved attention and sleep.


The most well-known essential oil for soothing is lavender. Lavender essential oil can be helpful for reducing anxiety and making you feel more at ease, which may help with ADHD symptoms. The aroma of lavender oil can calm and soothe the nervous system. Its relaxing qualities can benefit autistic children by enhancing their sleep quality and assisting their bodies in combating emotional stress.

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Curcumin, an active ingredient in turmeric is known to improve spatial memory, long-time retrieval and visual memory as per a study. It helps in managing anxiety, depression etc which is commonly seen in people with ADHD disorder.

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Ginkgo biloba is a promising herbal supplement that may alter the neural system in a disorder similar to ADHD. It enhances the memory and cognitive performance. According to a study, Children who took a ginkgo extract daily for three to five weeks showed a decrease in the symptoms of ADHD.

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Sunflower lecithin is an excellent source of choline, a vital nutrient required for a variety of health functions. Since choline is a precursor to acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter involved in memory and learning, choline is particularly significant for maintaining good brain function.

Also check, Foods to manage hyperactivity in kids


A research found that the exposure to the aroma of rosemary oil improved people’s performance on thinking tasks in terms of speed and accuracy.

Also check, Healthy diet plan for autism


Foods to avoid

1.Refined sugar:

Excessive sugar impairs cognitive skills as well as self control. Moreover, sugar damages the protein in our body, resulting in ageing of organs, which further compromises immunity, growth and functioning. Greatest source of sugar in the average kid’s diet are sugary snacks and beverages like cookies, cakes, candies, fruit juice, soda, and sports drinks. Everything that the child picks up to eat today has strains of added sugar in some form or the other.

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Most of the packaged food companies are adding artificial preservatives to delay spoilage and contamination in foods.  Artificial preservatives such as nitrates, benzoates, sulfites, sorbates, parabens, formaldehyde, BHT, BHA and several others can cause serious health hazards such as hypersensitivity, allergy, asthma, hyperactivity, neurological damage.

3.Refined oil:

The high temperature involved in the refining process removes all the natural and beneficial substances from the oil, which is not good for the digestive as well as respiratory health and ultimately affects your immunity.


Casein, is one of the major proteins in dairy product. Casein upon reaction with stomach acid creates an exorphin. Exorphins can cause a variety of problems, including brain fog, fuzziness, difficulty concentrating, and numbness to pain, when they bind to the opioid receptor sites.


It is a protein found in many kinds of cereal like wheat, barley, and rye. These gluten proteins when consumed can aggravate inflammation as the body starts producing antibodies against gluten that may cause an inflammatory reaction in the brain.

Also check, Gluten free recipes for kids


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