Behavioural problems can happen at any age. They often begin early in life, with young children being disobedient, rude, swearing, throwing tantrums, hitting and kicking other people, being aggressive, and breaking or spoiling other people's things.
Everyone is like this occasionally, but it becomes a problem if it goes on for several months and seriously breaks the family and community rules. If it doesn't change, it can lead on to serious problems with education, general development, and breaking the law. This is called conduct disorder.
Being very active, talking a great deal, and having far more energy than other people of the same age is normal from time to time. If a young person is always very active and noisy, just can't sit still, and talks non-stop, it can be a problem for the family and in school. This is called overactivity.
When overactivity is combined with difficulty in concentrating, it is called 'Hyperkinetic Disorder' (the official name in the UK). Confusingly, it has other names, including 'Attention Deficit Disorder' (ADD) and 'Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder' (ADHD). These last two names are used more in the USA but they are all names used by professionals to describe the same thing.
All behavioural problems can be accurately assessed by a professional, so don't be reluctant to seek help. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness or fault in you, and definitely not a sign that your parents can't cope or do a good job in raising you. To ask for help is a sign of wisdom - that you know there is a problem, and a sign of strength - it takes courage to admit that something is hard to deal with, and a sign of coping - you need the extra resources that expert help can provide so you do cope well.
Other feelings and behaviours
- I get a lot of physical problems (headaches or tummy aches, tired all the time).
- I feel angry a lot.
- I've put on or lost a lot of weight. I eat too much or not enough.
- I keep thinking about death or suicide.
- I keep thinking about running away.
- I'm sleeping badly/I get a lot of nightmares.
- I want to be alone all the time.
- I can hear voices that other people can't hear.
- I can't get over a loss or death of someone important to me.
- I'm very frightened of something in particular (phobia).
- I worry and feel anxious a great deal of the time.
- I have no energy or motivation to do the things I used to do.
- I feel I can't cope with everyday problems and daily activities.
- I feel very sensitive to criticism and tend to react strongly to it.
- I have tantrums and rages.
- I get aggressive towards others, I do anti-social things, I bully or threaten others.
- I bunk off school.
- I'm not at school much but not because I'm ill.
- I'm doing worse at school than I used to.
- I avoid being with friends and being involved in activities.
- I find it hard to make decisions, I can't concentrate, I'm forgetful.
- I've been messing with drugs, alcohol, cigarettes.
- I like hurting animals.
- I get urges to hurt myself (cutting, overdosing on tablets).
- I have to repeat certain routines all the time (obsessive-compulsive behaviour).