The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has issued guidelines to help parents distinguish between naughtiness and more worrying behaviour in their children that might need medical intervention.
About one in every 20 children aged five to 16 has a conduct disorder and NICE believe parents should play a central role in identifying when 'naughtiness' turns to persistent and extreme misbehaviour.
Prof Steven Pilling, who helped develop the guidelines, said: "Children with conduct disorders are different. It's not a bit of tantruming or getting into trouble now and then. It's picking up the 14in TV and throwing it through the window."
"Firmness and saying 'No' is not the solution for these children. We need to get parents to switch the focus from being controlling and punitive to encouraging positive behaviour."
About half of children with antisocial behaviour or conduct disorders not only miss out on parts of their childhood but also go on to have serious mental health problems as adults and often become repeat offenders.
Co-author Prof Peter Fonagy, a professor of psychoanalysis at University College London, added: "All children can be naughty, defiant and impulsive from time to time, which is perfectly normal. However, some children have extremely difficult and challenging behaviours that are outside the norm for their age.
"Recognising and accurately diagnosing a conduct disorder is vital to ensuring children and their families are able to access the treatment and support they need to manage the condition."
Posted 28/03/2013 by firstname.lastname@example.org