Defiance and The Conduct Disorders Of Children

There is a condition referred to as “adolescence”.  Neurotherapists will often joke with parents that they will treat adolescents but not adolescence.  The point, of course, is that defiance and other strivings for independence and self-worth are normal expressions of child development.  Guiding this oppositional energy is the key to responsible parenting.  No therapy, neurotherapy included, is a substitute for responsible parenting.  Unfortunately, we see many children with behavior problems that result from parents who are too afraid or, on the other hand, too self-absorbed to be responsible parents.  They abdicate the parental role with the result that the child is severely deficient in acquiring social learning.  When such conditions are encountered, family therapy with an emphasis on responsible parenting is always required.  Neurotherapy may help in such conditions if the child (or parent!) is facing some neurological inefficiency, such as an attention or a stress tolerance deficiency.

Recognizing that family/parenting issues are always critical, there are neurological conditions that are associated with behavior problems in children.  Oppositional and Defiance Disorders (ODD) are usually associated with problems in the frontal regions of the brain, and often a deficiency in the back of the brain as well.  The problem in the front of the brain can be thought of as the brain not being efficient in acquiring or accessing social skills.  Also, we often find an imbalance in the frontal cortex that is associated with impulse control problems.  Correcting these inefficiencies with neurotherapy in conjunction with strengthening parental skills can make a marked improvement in the child’s behavior.  Drugging the child will simply compound the problem.

Severe behavior problems can also be associated with frontal brain injury.  It is noteworthy that most imprisoned violent offenders show evidence of frontal lobe damage.  Fortunately, neurotherapy can be effective in the treatment of traumatic brain injury with associated improvement in socially appropriate behavior.  Hence, in the treatment of defiant and aggressive children, the complex of factors that are potential contributors to the problem must be isolated.  Such treatment usually includes family therapy, parental skills training, behavior therapy for the child and neurotherapy to correct any neurological inefficiencies associated with the socially problematic behavior.