What Are the Types of Disruptive Behavior?

Medically Reviewed on 11/29/2022
Types of Disruptive Behavior
A child’s poor or inappropriate behavior can become a barrier to their learning in school and at home.

Problems with emotions, behavior, and self-control that interfere with a child's ability to function at home and school are a hallmark of disruptive behavior disorders (DBDs). The child disregards the rights of others or challenges the authority of adults if they have DBD.

5 types of disruptive behavior disorders

These are a set of disorders that are related to varied difficulties in managing aggressive behaviors, self-control, and urges. Typically, the ensuing behaviors or acts are viewed as a danger to the safety of others and/or to cultural standards. 

  1. Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD)
    • Affects many children and teenagers. Individuals with ODD exhibit varying degrees of dysfunction as a result of oppositionality, vindictiveness, disputes, and aggressiveness
    • Common symptoms of ODD include:
      • Frequent angry outbursts
      • Easily annoyed
      • Frequent arguments with parents
      • Refuse to follow rules
      • Blame others for mistakes
      • Deliberately annoy others
      • Act in a vindictive way
  2. Conduct disorder (CD)
    • Involves severe behaviors that violate the rights of others or societal norms.
    • These behaviors may be observed for the first time during preschool.
    • Common symptoms of CD include:
      • Aggression toward others or animals
      • Destruction of property, all of which could result in legal consequences
      • Steal, lie, and run away from home
      • Skip school 
      • Break the laws
  3. Intermittent explosive disorder (IED)
    • A kid with an IED may exhibit frequent outbursts of impulsive conduct or at least two outbursts each week for three months.
    • Remember that these violent activities are spontaneous and unplanned.
    • After being triggered, they occur quickly and normally last no more than 30 minutes.
    • These outbursts must be connected to the occupant, social or subjective suffering.
    • Common symptoms of IED include:
      • Temper tantrums
      • Verbal arguments and fights
      • Physical assaults on people or animals, property destruction, or verbal assaults
      • Aggravate one’s condition
      • Cause problems at work or home
  4. Pyromania
    • A rare condition, which is characterized by recurrent urges or compelling wants to start deliberate fires. Curiosity is frequently the driving force behind starting a fire, and unattended kids with access to lighters and matches are more likely to do so. 
    • Affected people repeatedly and purposefully start fires, and their motivation is internal. Intense desires drive them to start deadly fires.
    • Additionally, they feel anxious before starting flames, followed by pleasure after the fire is kindled. 
    • These people don't start fires for any monetary gain or retaliation but rather to relieve internalized emotional tension.
  5. Kleptomania (different from shoplifting)
    • An uncommon disorder characterized by the uncontrollable, impulsive, and irresistible theft of things not required for personal or other kinds of usage. They frequently give away, refund, hide, or keep stolen items. 
    • Kleptomaniacs are aware that what they are doing is wrong, yet they are unable to resist the urge to steal, resulting in hurried and poorly thought-out theft. 
    • They feel internal stress before stealing, which is alleviated after the heist. Although stealing gives them joy or fulfillment, it puts them through remorse or misery. 
    • Many people with this disorder may strive to quit stealing but are filled with guilt and humiliation because they are unable to do so. Unfortunately, many people may be arrested or imprisoned because of their actions.

Disruptive behavioral disorders are characterized by a pattern of disruptive behaviors in children that lasts at least six months and causes issues at school, home, and social gatherings. Almost everyone exhibits some of these behaviors occasionally, but behavior disorders are more problematic.

What are the common disruptive behaviors in classrooms?

Disruptive behavior develops when a student acts in an inconvenient manner that stops them and other participants in the class from learning. This sort of conduct frequently results in the teacher's attention shifting to that child, depriving other students of the necessary attention.

Several types of disruption can occur in a classroom across all grade levels. They can be roughly classified as follows:

  • Talkative
    • When a student talks to another student out of turn, it is considered disruptive in the classroom. It makes it difficult for the teacher and the students to focus on their tasks. 
    • A disobedient student might ask countless irrelevant questions and debate with a teacher. It is disruptive if this student dominates the class.
  • Excessive disturbance through noise
    • Students noisily search through their desks or backpacks regularly, unsettling the classroom environment. Teachers and other students might become distracted by these loud noises. 
    • Students may pull their chairs over the floor or pretend to cough. All of these will draw attention to the child while disrupting the class.
    • The ringing of cell phones and text messages, especially when they are on vibration, is an extremely unpleasant yet frequent noise disturbance. Most schools have strong media restrictions, yet frequently children disregard them.
  • May not be punctual to school
    • Students and the class are affected when a student comes late or quits early. The teacher will stop the course to welcome a tardy student and recognize their presence. It could, therefore, be necessary to modify or repeat a lesson to accommodate this learner.
    • Although there are unavoidable exceptions for emergencies and exceptional events, a student who routinely arrives late and disturbs the entire class can be considered to have disruptive behavior.
  • Cheating
    • In a classroom setting, it is tremendously disruptive when a student is caught cheating. To handle this conduct, educators generally need to take time away from other children and may even need to leave the classroom.
  • Threatening behavior
    • Students can occasionally act rudely, disrespectfully, and violently toward teachers. This is disruptive and requires decisive action. 
    • The entire process of correcting the student or removing them from class will disturb and frighten the students.

Disruptive conduct may have a severe effect not just on the classroom environment but also on the whole school experience. Making the effort to investigate why an individual or class is becoming disruptive will ensure a calm productive session.

What are the common sign and symptoms of a disruptive behavior?

Depending on the child's age and the sort of behavioral condition they have, different disruptive behavior disorders will present with different symptoms. The intensity of the symptoms will also depend on the child’s temperament, social abilities, and coping techniques.

  • Behavioral symptoms
    • Social isolation
    • Bullying
    • Revenge-seeking behaviors
    • Lying
    • Stealing
    • Willful destruction of property
    • Blaming others
    • Actively defying or refusing to comply with rules
    • Being cruel to animals
    • Playing with fire
  • Cognitive symptoms
    • Difficulty concentrating
    • Frequent frustration
    • Memory impairment
    • Inability to "think before speaking"
    • Lack of problem-solving skills
  • Psychosocial symptoms
    • Lack of empathy
    • Lack of remorse
    • False sense of grandiosity
    • Persistent negativity 
    • Chronic annoyance and irritability 
    • Low self-esteem

Children with disruptive behaviors are frequently stubborn, tough, disobedient, and irritated. These children may be physically violent, purposefully violate the rights of others, and exhibit a hostile or unconcerned attitude toward authority people.


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What are the potential causes of disruptive behavior disorder (DBD)?

Disruptive behavior disorder (DBD) is thought to arise as a result of a combination of genetic, physical, and environmental factors. Examples of these factors include:


It is common for children with DBD to have parents or family members who have these mental illnesses. Examples may include:

This suggests that there is most certainly a hereditary component that makes children more prone to developing and displaying DBD symptoms.


Children who have grown up in a bad environment are more likely to have disruptive behavior problems. This might include:

  • Rejected by their mothers as infants
  • Separated from their parents
  • Recipients of poor foster care
  • Physically, emotionally, or sexually abused
  • Neglected
  • Lived in poverty
  • Witnessed domestic violence 
  • Witnessed substance abuse

The environment in which children grow can significantly influence whether they acquire the behavioral patterns that identify DBD. Children who grow up in a chaotic home are at risk of DBD symptoms.


  • Children born prematurely or with neurological impairment at any stage throughout their development are more likely to have disruptive behavior problems.
  • Imbalances in the frontal lobe of the brain have been proposed to influence the development of DBD.
  • When neurotransmitters are out of equilibrium, their capacity to communicate is impaired. This communication breakdown might result in the beginning of DBD symptoms.


  • Children with psychiatric illnesses are more likely to acquire disruptive behavior issues. A substantial percentage of children with ADHD develop disruptive behavior issues in childhood. 

The exact etiology of disruptive behavioral problems is unknown. A family member with ADHD/oppositional defiant disorder, depression, or anxiety, as well as environmental variables such as stress in the household, are risk factors (from divorce, separation, abuse, parental criminality, or a series of conflicts within the family). These disorders are also more prone to coexist with other problems such as ADHD.

How are disruptive behavior disorders (DBDs) managed?

Disruptive behavior problems are treated differently for each kid. The therapy strategy is heavily influenced by the child's age. 

  • Children younger than nine years
    • Children benefit from treatment that strongly emphasizes parents and other adults controlling the child's conduct in various circumstances. 
    • To maximize the success of therapy, parents/caregivers, teachers, and other people in the child’s life must be taught a unique approach to the child.
  • Children older than nine years
    • Throughout their therapy, they are accountable for increasing their self-awareness. They are given unique behavioral tactics and coping strategies, but they must use them at home, school, and the public to control their actions.
  • Management options
    • It is important to implement therapy in the form of particular behavior approaches (teach the kid to be aware of what triggers responses and use coping techniques to prevent violence) at home or school. 
    • Parent training, family counseling, school interventions, and other therapies aimed at assisting the child in changing their behavior are beneficial. 
    • Medication can also help youngsters control and improve their disruptive behavior.

Tips for managing disruptive behavior in the classroom

  • Clear rules about what is acceptable and what is not
    • Make it an exercise that includes the students so that they grasp the purpose of the rules. 
    • Be cautious to explain regulations positively rather than presenting a list of dos and don'ts. 
    • You might do this by having students create posters that will be posted on the classroom wall. 
    • It's usually a good idea to go over the rules frequently and have students assess them.
    • Encourage students to collaborate more and solve problems or puzzles together.
  • Rapport
    • Building relationships with pupils is crucial, and finding the correct balance is vital, especially with young students. Helping youngsters should be approachable and pleasant without being confrontational. Techniques should vary depending on the class.
    • If you suspect your student has a learning disability, chat with them and figure out how you can help them. You and the student can collaborate on solutions that will benefit both of you.
  • Knowing the names
    • Knowing the student name demonstrates an interest in their lives outside of the classroom.
    • Learning a little bit about their backgrounds and interests and treating each student as an individual will help you better understand them and will also enable you to plan lessons pertinent to their needs and interests.
    • Controlling disruptive behaviors can be aided by having the capacity to understand the students' motives and state of mind.

Poor or inappropriate behavior can become a barrier to learning; thus, the teacher must be able to detect and address the issue effectively, as well as establish an environment in which everyone feels secure, respected, and equal.

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Medically Reviewed on 11/29/2022
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Disruptive Behavior Disorders: https://www.nationwidechildrens.org/conditions/disruptive-behavior-disorders




Treating Disruptive Behavior Disorders in Children and Teens: https://effectivehealthcare.ahrq.gov/products/disruptive-behavior-disorder/consumer