Health Resources

Conduct Disorder

What is Conduct Disorder

Conduct disorder is a behavioural and emotional disorder that can occur in teenagers and children. An individual with conduct disorder displays a myriad of disruptive and aggressive behaviours, and may have difficulties adhering to rules. 

It is common for these individuals to also experience behaviour problems during their early development. The problem is considered to be a conduct disorder when it is pervasive and when the behaviour violates others' rights or is not socially accepted, and has an impact on the individual's and family's overall functioning.


The symptoms may vary depending on the age of the child, and severity of the disorder (mild, moderate, or severe) and fall into four general categories:

Aggressive behaviour: Behaviours that cause physical harm to others and may include instigating or partaking in fights, bullying, being cruel towards others or animals, using weapons or forcing another into sexual activity.

Destructive behaviour: Intentional destruction of property through deliberate arson or vandalism

Deceitful behaviour: Repeated lying, shoplifting or stealing

Violation of rules: Going against accepted social rules of society or engaging in behaviour that is not appropriate for the person's age, such as truancy, smoking, alcohol or drug use or being sexually active at a very young age.

Individuals with conduct disorder might also appear irritable, have low self-esteem, and tend to display temper tantrums. They might have difficulty understanding how their behaviour harms others, and generally show little guilt or remorse for their actions.

It is recommended for the child to receive a comprehensive treatment plan involving multiple treatment modalities so as to achieve the best outcome. The disorder is manageable with a supportive network of caregivers, school personnel, and peers. 

Some examples of treatment include:
  • Pharmacological treatment
  • Psychoeducation for persons involved in child’s development (caregivers, school personnel, peers)
  • Psychosocial interventions (e.g. parent training programmes, classroom behaviour management)
  • Psychotherapy (e.g. behaviour modification, family therapy)
Last updated on
Best viewed with Chrome 79.0, Edge 112.0, Firefox 61.0, Safari 11
National University Health System
  • National University Hospital
  • Ng Teng Fong General Hospital
  • Alexandra Hospital
  • Jurong Community Hospital
  • National University Polyclinics
  • Jurong Medical Centre
  • National University Cancer Institute, Singapore
  • National University Heart Centre, Singapore
  • National University Centre for Oral Health, Singapore
  • NUHS Diagnostics
  • NUHS Pharmacy
  • Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine
  • Faculty of Dentistry
  • Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health
Back to Top