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Insight into Personality Disorders in Children

written by: Marce • edited by: Paul Arnold • updated: 2/14/2011

While many doctors and psychiatrists are cautious about diagnosing personality disorders in children, there are some cases in which a child demonstrates numerous symptoms that cannot be ignored.

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    Children with Personality Disorders

    Doctors rarely diagnose personality disorders children, because their personalities are still developing. However, some may meet criteria detailed in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders IV, or DSM IV.

    Antisocial Personality Disorder - This disorder is also known as conduct disorder. Children have difficulty engaging in social situations and an inability to feel emotion. They derive pleasure from manipulating others or causing them harm

    Avoidant Personality Disorder - Children isolate themselves and have low self-esteem to the point of not being able to participate in school and community activities for fear of being ridiculed.

    Borderline Personality Disorder - Children who have a difficult time grasping who they are as people. They have unstable relationships, and they experience sudden changes in mood and erratic emotions.

    Dependent Personality Disorder - A child who has an extremely strong attachment to someone, such as a parent, and cannot make decisions on their own because they lack self-confidence. These children also have an extreme fear of being abandoned.

    Histrionic Personality Disorder - Children who exaggerate stories about themselves in certain situations. They seek attention and will have overwhelming reactions to seemingly normal events. They also experience quick emotional shifts, going from feeling very high about something and then feeling very low about it.

    Narcissistic Personality Disorder - These children do not care about other people because they only care about themselves. If another child falls, these children will not respond to the injury or provide support. They think they have all the answers and everyone should believe what they believe. They feel righteous and believe that they have power over others.

    Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder - These children have anxiety about doing things perfectly and do not deal very well with changes. They may have obsessive and compulsive thoughts and actions such as thinking about germs constantly and having to wash their hands multiple times to relieve the anxiety of contracting an illness.

    Paranoid Personality Disorder - Children who do not trust anyone, not even their parents. They also feel as though someone is out to get them.

    Schizoid Personality Disorder - These children have a very difficult time with social relationships because they do not experience many emotions, if any at all.

    Schizotypal Personality Disorder - Children who have extraordinary thoughts and false beliefs. A child may believe he or she is a magical person - a fairy or a wizard - and live out that life every day. They might therefore have a difficult time understanding why they can't fly because they believe they have the capability.

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    Treating Children with Personality Disorders

    Since personality disorders do not affect a person's ability to function each day, it is uncommon for children with personality disorders to receive medication. If there is an underlying cause of the personality disorder, such as anxiety, ADHD or ADD, medication can be prescribed by a doctor to treat those disorders.

    Children with personality disorders usually receive therapy to help them change their cognitions, which is also referred to as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. CBT helps people identify negative thoughts, understand them, change them and then change their behavior according to the new thought patterns.

    While many parents do not want to seek therapy for their young children, identifying a behavioral problem and seeking treatment for it as soon as it is diagnosed can help children learn how to be responsible and productive members of society before their minds become too set in their ways.

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    Resources

    PsychCentral, http://psychcentral.com/disorders/sx67.htm

    MayoClinic.com, http://www.mayoclinic.com/print/personality-disorders/DS00562/METHOD=print&DSECTION=all