Borderline Personality Disorder in Children

Updated July 19, 2017

Borderline Personality Disorder, refered to as BPD, is mainly a disorder that emerges in adolescence. The youngest child diagnosed as having BPD was 12 years old. However, psychologists and psychiatrists believe the symptoms may appear differently in children below the age of puberty.

What Is BPD?

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is one of 10 medically recognised personality disorders. People with BPD have difficulty managing their emotions, have a lack of identity, extreme low self-image and suicidal tendencies. The majority of people diagnosed with BPD are young women.

Criteria for Diagnosis

The reason why a BPD diagnosis in children is rare is because of the criteria set forth by the American Psychological Association. The DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) states that a person needs to exhibit 5 or more of the 9 characteristics for over a year. Many of the criteria are not found in children under the age of 12.


There are other signs that may be precursors to a BPD diagnosis in adolescence. Out of control emotions, severe mood changes, poor impulse control and aggression on themselves are signs that you need to seek professional help.


Psychotherapy is the main treatment used on people with BPD. There is also a new treatment called Dialectical Behavior Therapy, or DBT, which is a way to teach patients how to be in control of their emotions. It is usually done within a group setting where life skill sets are retaught. DBT has been effective in treating adolescents with BPD, and works with younger children as well.


Do not try to diagnose or treat your child on your own. Seek licensed clinicians, family doctors, psychologists or psychiatrists for an accurate assessment.

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About the Author

Leala Munson has worked as a writer for several nationally recognized institutions for more than six years. Munson's work has appeared in the inaugural issue of "Sloane Magazine." She holds a B.A. in behavioral studies from Concordia College and has worked as an administrator at Harvard University.