Testing & Diagnosis for Disruptive Behavior Disorders in Children


The first step in treating your child's disruptive behavior disorder is forming an accurate and complete diagnosis.

Diagnosing oppositional defiant disorder
At Children’s Hospital Boston, a mental health clinician (typically a child and adolescent psychiatrist, child psychologist or psychiatric social worker) makes the diagnosis of oppositional defiant disorder after doing a comprehensive psychiatric assessment with you and your child. During this assessment, you will be asked to talk about your child’s behavioral problems and to give an overview of your child’s family history, medical history, school life and social interactions. Learn more about how Children’s diagnoses ODD.

Diagnosing conduct disorder
Conduct disorder is typically diagnosed if a child has done three or more of the following within a 12-month period:

  • showed aggression toward animals or people
  • destroyed or stolen property
  • lied and been deceitful
  • seriously violated parental or school rules

A child with conduct disorder experiences noticeably dysfunctional relationships at home, at school and with peers as a result of these behaviors.

If my child is diagnosed with a disruptive behavior disorder, what happens next?
Your child’s mental health clinician will help explain the disorder and answer any questions you or your child may have. The next step is developing a mutually agreed-upon treatment plan that works for you, your child and your family.