How To Know If A Child Has Psychopathic Tendencies

By Snow, Parent Herald February 08, 06:27 am
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Ever wondered why there are children who end up becoming psychopathic adults who go about committing heinous crimes? According to a latest study, these psychopathic tendencies can be detected in toddlers and babies. By knowing the warning signs, early treatment can be sought to correct your child's development.

There are two types of traits linked with psychopathic tendencies or conduct disorder. These are callousness and being unemotional. Callousness refers to being indifferent, without a care in the world, while being unemotional denotes not having the ability to feel anything in relation to certain stimuli in the surroundings.

Researchers evaluated 200 children, aged three to six years old. They utilized computer programs and questionnaires to properly assess the behaviors of children. The results of the study, as published on the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology and reported by Independent, showed 10 percent of the children exhibited conduct disorder traits, which include lack of affection, empathy, and remorse.

According to the lead researcher from the University of New South Wales, Dr. Eva Kimonis, "We essentially found that preschoolers that show impaired development of conscience are deficient in how they process emotions, similar to what we find in older adolescent and adult populations with the same problems."

Yahoo News reported that the manner of raising a child can greatly determine whether he will develop psychopathic tendencies. According to the psychologist from Baylor Scott & White Health, Dr. David Blackburn, "It's kind of a progression, or stages, that a child goes through."

Dr. Blackburn emphasized that it's a combination of nature and nurture. Nature refers to the child's genetics and nurture is the manner of his upbringing, which includes his home life and overall environment. If a child was abused, he is more likely to develop psychopathic tendencies compared to a child who lived in a healthy and loving home.

The Warning Signs of a Psychopathic Child

Blackburn pointed out some of the warning signs include a short temper, an irritable mood, a resentful attitude, being easily annoyed, argumentative, defiant, annoys others, and blaming others for his own faults.

Another mental health expert, Dr. Jeffrey Borenstein, Brain & Behavior Research Foundation President and CEO, said that, "A child who has a diagnosis of conduct disorder may be showing ... aggression towards other people - for instance, being a bully, threatening or intimidating others, engaging in physical fights."

Borenstein further added that, "It could be using a weapon to cause [or] that could cause harm to another person, being cruel to other people or to animals, stealing, destruction of property and often lying - those would be some of the types of things that would be a warning sign for a parent."

While these character traits may be worrisome, there's still hope. Psychologists have recommended that a warm and supportive parenting will help in reducing the chances of children developing psychopathic tendencies.

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