Borderline Personality Traits in Children

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is not diagnosed in children, as their personalities, identities, and ways of understanding and interacting with the world are still in flux during childhood. However, children who later are diagnosed with BPD may have shown signs from a very young age, such as extreme emotional sensitivity, intense mood changes, intense difficulty adjusting to changes in routine, experimenting with self-injury, and low frustration tolerance. These qualities may be attributable to a number of other issues or diagnoses or may, in fact, not be problematic at all for the child.

However, when a child’s well-being or daily functioning are impacted, symptoms such as reactivity and impulsivity can be effectively addressed through a combination of individual and family-based treatment, focused on skills in mindfulness, emotional and behavioral regulation, and healthy communication. Dialectical Behavior Therapy adapted for Children (DBT-C), Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), and/or family therapy may be recommended.