Childhood and Adolescent Psychiatric Disorders Practice Quiz (15 Questions)


Knowledge of developmental theory is crucial to the understanding infant, childhood, and adolescent disorders because deviation from developmental norms is an important warning sign of a problem. This 15-item quiz will test your knowledge about mental disorders in children and adolescents. How well can you handle these situations? Let’s find out!

Reach perfection.
― Baltasar Gracián


Concepts and topics included in this practice exam are as follows:

  • Adolescent Psychiatric Disorders
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
  • Autism
  • Childhood Psychiatric Disorders
  • Methylphenidate (Ritalin)
  • Oppositional Defiant Disorder
  • Pervasive Developmental Disorder


Follow the guidelines below to make the most out of this exam:

  • Read each question carefully and choose the best answer.
  • You are given one minute per question. Spend your time wisely!
  • Answers and rationales are given below. Be sure to read them.
  • If you need more clarifications, please direct them to the comments section.


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Childhood and Adolescent Psychiatric Disorders Practice Quiz (15 Questions)

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1. Martin Sanchez is a nine (9)-year-old child admitted to a psychiatric treatment unit accompanied by Mr. and Mrs. Sanchez. To establish trust and position of neutrality, which action would the nurse take?

A. Encourage Mr. and Mrs. Sanchez to leave while Martin is being interviewed.
B. Interview Martin with his parents together, observing their interaction.
C. Provide diversion for Martin, and interview Mr. and Mrs. Sanchez alone.
D. Review the clinical record prior to interviewing Mr. and Mrs. Sanchez.

2. Nurse Bennet is a community nurse practicing primary prevention for psychiatric disorders in children. On which of the following risk factors would he focus?

A. Being raised in a single-parent home
B. Family history of mental illness
C. Lack of peer friendship
D. Family culture

3. Nurse Daya, a school nurse, is meeting with the school and health treatment team about a child who has been receiving methylphenidate (Ritalin) for two (2) months. The meeting is to evaluate the results of the child’s medication use. Which behavior change noted by the teacher will help determine the medication’s effectiveness.

A. Decrease repetitive behaviors
B. Decreased signs of anxiety
C. Increased depressed mood
D. Increased ability to concentrate on tasks

4. Which behavioral assessment in a child is most consistent with a diagnosis of conduct disorder?

A. Arguing with adults
B. Gross impairment in communication
C. Physical aggression toward others
D. Refusal to separate from caretaker

5. Alexi who has separation anxiety disorder has not attended school for three (3) weeks, and she cries and exhibits clinging behaviors when her mother encourages attendance. The priority nursing action by the home-care psychiatric nurse would be to:

A. Assist the child in returning to school immediately with family support.
B. Arrange for a home-school teacher to visit for two (2) weeks
C. Encourage family discussion of various problem areas.
D. Use play therapy to help the child express her feelings.

6. A 15-year-old boy was hospitalized in a psychiatric unit because he initiates frequent fights with peers. Which implementation is most appropriate?

A. Anticipate and neutralize potentially explosive situations.
B. Ignore minor infractions of rules against fighting.
C. Isolate the adolescent from contact with peers.
D. Talk to the adolescent each time fighting occurs.

7. The community nurse visits the home of George, a child recently diagnosed with autism. The parents express feelings of shame and guilt about having somehow caused this problem. Which statement by the nurse would best help alleviate parental guilt?

A. “Autism is a rare disorder. Your other children shouldn’t be affected.”
B. “The specific cause of autism is unknown. However, it is known to be associated with problems in the structure of and chemicals in the brain.”
C. “Sometimes a lack of prenatal care can be cause of autism.”
D. “Although autism is genetically inherited if you didn’t have testing you could not have known this would happen.”

8. An adolescent with a depressive disorder is more likely than an adult with the same disorder to exhibit:

A. Negativism and acting out.
B. Sadness and crying.
C. Suicidal thoughts.
D. Weight gain.

9. The parents of Suzanne, a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, tell the nurse they have tried everything to calm their child and nothing has worked. Which action by the nurse is most appropriate initially?

A. Actively listen to the parents’ concern before planning interventions.
B. Encourage the parents to discuss these issues with the mental health team.
C. Provide literature regarding the disorder and its management.
D. Tell the parents they are overacting to the problem.

10. Nurse Gloria questions the parents of a child with oppositional defiant disorder about the roles of each parent in setting rules of behavior. The purpose for this type of questioning is to assess which element of the family system?

A. Anxiety levels
B. Generational boundaries
C. Knowledge of growth and development
D. Quality of communication

11. Nurse Tiffany reinforces the behavioral contract for a child having difficulty controlling aggressive behaviors on the psychiatric unit. Which of the following is the best rationale for this method of treatment?

A. It will assist the child to develop more adaptive coping methods.
B. It will avoid having the nurse be responsible for setting the rules.
C. It will maintain the nurse’s role in controlling the child’s behavior.
D. It will prevent the child from manipulating the nurse.

12. Nurse Sophia is teaching the parents of a child with pervasive developmental disorder about how to deal with the child when his behavior escalates and he begins throwing things and screaming. Which guideline would be most helpful for the parents to deal with the situation?

A. Accept the child’s limitations, and ignore this behavior.
B. Decrease stimulation in the environment, and provide a time-out.
C. Seek help when feeling overwhelmed by the child’s behavior.
D. Tell the child to calm down, and encourage quiet activity.

13. The school nurse assesses Brook, a child newly diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Which of the following symptoms are characteristic of the disorder? Select all that apply.

A. Constant fidgeting and squirming
B. Excessive fatigue and somatic complaints
C. Difficulty paying attention to details
D. Easily distracted
E. Running away
F. Talking constantly, even when inappropriate

14. The psychiatric nurse is alert to warning signs of suicide in the adolescent population. From the following list, select those behaviors that are indicative of adolescent suicidal thinking. Select all that apply.

A. Giving away prized possessions
B. Associating with friends who are substance abusers
C. Sudden withdrawal from friends and family
D. Having difficulty concentrating on one thing at a time
E. Being easily distracted by environmental events
F. Verbal hints or threats about suicide

15.  Which of the following statements about ADHD in children is false?

A. Black parents tend to be less sure of potential causes of and treatments for ADHD than white parents, and they are less likely to connect ADHD to their child’s school experiences.
B. Because of its frequent genetic etiology, ADHD in a child is likely foreshadowed by ADHD in other family members.
C. The chances of successful treatment are adversely affected if the parent responsible for implementing the treatment has untreated ADHD.
D. More than 40% of respondents in the recent National Stigma Study-Children (NSS-C) believe that children will face rejection in school for receiving mental health treatment and that negative ramifications will continue into adulthood. More than half expected psychiatric medications to cause a zombie-like effect.
E. The Multimodal Treatment Study of Children with ADHD suggests that pharmacological treatment of ADHD is as effective as behavioral therapy alone.

Answers and Rationale

1. Answer: B. Interview Martin with his parents together, observing their interaction.

It is important for the nurse to be seen as a neutral person who is interested in the family as an adaptive functioning unit. By conducting the admission interview with the parents and child together, the nurse establishes this neutral role from the beginning.

  • The responses on options A and C separate the parents and the child, and thus the nurse does not have an opportunity to establish a position of neutrality.
  • Option D: Although the nurse would review the clinical record, this does not demonstrate to the family that she is an advocate for both parents and the child.

2. Answer: B. Family history of mental illness

Abnormal genes and family history of mental illness have been implicated in many psychiatric disorders occurring in children and adolescents.

  • Option A: There is no evidence that being raised in a single-parent home will increase a child’s risk of developing a psychiatric disorder.
  • Option C: Children who have problems with peers and withdraw from social interaction may have a psychiatric disorder; however, the nurse noting this problem would be practicing secondary, not primary, prevention.
  • Option D: Family culture is not a risk factor unless the parental behavior is dramatically atypical from surrounding culture.

3. Answer: D. Increased ability to concentrate on tasks

Methylphenidate (Ritalin) is used as a method of treatment of ADHD. Evidence of increased ability to concentrate on tasks while taking this medication would establish the drug’s effectiveness.

4. Answer: C. Physical aggression toward others

Physical aggression toward others is a significant criterion consistent with the diagnoses of conduct disorder.

  • Option A: Arguing with adults may indicate a lesser disorder, oppositional defiant disorder. Conduct disorder is a problem that involves violation of social rules.
  • Options B and D: Gross impairment in communication and refusal to separate from a caretaker are behaviors that are more consistent with other mental disorders that can affect children.

5. Answer: A. Assist the child to return to school immediately with family support.

When a child refuses to attend school as part of separation anxiety disorder, it is important to avoid reinforcing this behavior. The nurse’s priority would be to assist the child in returning to school immediately with support from the family.

  • Option B: Arranging for a home-school teacher would reinforce the behavior of not attending school.
  • Options C and D: Although encouraging family discussion of problem areas and the use of play therapy are appropriate treatment interventions; the priority is returning the child to school.

6. Answer: A. Anticipate and neutralize potentially explosive situations.

The nurse is responsible for maintaining a safe environment; therefore, it would be appropriate to observe for signs that an explosive situation is developing and intervening to neutralize the situation, thereby preventing a fight.

  • Option B: Ignoring minor infractions of rules against fighting in a psychiatric unit would not be a minor infraction and should not be ignored. This could lead to unsafe situations that could escalate out of control.
  • Option C: Isolation and seclusion are methods of intervention that can be used as a last resort after less restrictive means are employed.
  • Option D: Talking to the adolescent each time a fight occurs does not indicate that the nurse is setting and enforcing clear, consistent rules. The nurse needs to maintain safety and would not allow fighting to occur if it could be avoided.

7. Answer: B. “The specific cause of autism is unknown. However, it is known to be associated with problems in the structure of and chemicals in the brain.”

This statement is factual and does not cast blame on anything the parents did or did not do.

  • Option A: The parents are not questioning whether other children will be affected; their concern is directed to the current situation and their feelings about it.
  • Option C: Lack of prenatal care may be a risk factor in pervasive developmental disorders, but it is not the cause of autism.
  • Option D: Although it is thought that there is a genetic component in autism, research has not identified specific genes, and there is no diagnostic test for this. The statement is misleading and would not alleviate guilt.

8. Answer: A. Negativism and acting out.

Adolescents sometimes demonstrate behavior that is uncharacteristic of an adult with a psychiatric disorder. In a depressive disorder, an adolescent’s negativism and acting out could be signs of depression.

  • Options B and C: Sadness, crying, and suicidal thoughts are behaviors of both adolescents and adults.
  • Option D: An adult may experience either weight loss or weight gain while depressed, whereas an adolescent may experience weight loss.

9. Answer: A. Actively listens to the parents’ concern before planning interventions.

The nurse would encourage parents to fully discuss and describe their perception of the problem in order to assess the family system before determining appropriate interventions.

  • Option B: the nurse has not explored the problem and is deciding before adequately assessing the situation that the mental team should be consulted.
  • Option C: Providing literature regarding the disorder and its management may be useful intervention; however, the initial action needs to involve a more thorough exploration of the parents’ concerns.
  • Option D: Telling the parents they are overreacting to the problem is inappropriate because it dismisses the parents’ legitimate concerns and belittles their feelings.

10. Answer: B. Generational boundaries

An important element in assessing the family system is determining if the parents establish and maintain appropriate generational boundaries, establishing clear rules and expectations as part of the parental role.

  • Option A: Although the parents may have anxiety regarding the role of parental rule-setting, the nurse’s question is not adequate to assess the anxiety levels.
  • Options C and D: The question concerns the roles of the parents and the child in rule setting. It does not provide data regarding knowledge of growth and development or communication quality.

11. Answer: A. It will assist the child to develop more adaptive coping methods.

Behavioral therapy is employed for the purpose of developing adaptive behavior that will improve coping. The nurse works to enhance the child’s self-functioning and responsibility for his own behavior using appropriate means to develop better coping.

  • Option B: The nurse does not avoid setting rules; it is the responsibility of the nurse to establish and maintain appropriate limits.
  • Options C and D: Although reinforcing behavioral contracts will help prevent manipulative behavior by the child; this is not the best rationale for using behavioral treatment, which aims to improve client behavior.

12. Answer: B. Decrease stimulation in the environment, and provide a time-out.

A child with a pervasive developmental disorder can have bizarre responses to environmental stimuli. By decreasing that stimulating effect and providing a time-out, the child can more readily de-escalate the behaviors.

  • Option A: Escalating behaviors, such as those described, require intervention to promote safety. It is inappropriate to ignore this. The situation requires immediate intervention.
  • Option C: The parents should seek help when overwhelmed, but they must intervene when safety is an issue.
  • The response in option D is inadequate; the child will not be able to calm down without assistance.

13. Answer: A, C, D, and F

These behaviors are all characteristic of ADHD and indicate that the child is inattentive, hyperactive, and impulsive.

  • Options B and E are signs of emotional distress in a child and could be associated with a number of different psychiatric diagnoses.

14. Answer: A, C, and F

These are all warning signs that an adolescent is having suicidal thoughts. The nurse should directly question any adolescent about suicide intent when these indicators are noted.

  • Option B may indicate that the adolescent has a problem with substance use, but not necessarily suicide.
  • Options D and E are signs of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, not suicide.

15. Answer: E. The Multimodal Treatment Study of Children with ADHD suggests that pharmacological treatment of ADHD is as effective as behavioral therapy alone.

See Also

You may also like these other quizzes and exam tip articles:

Study Guides

Comprehensive Mental Health and Psychiatric Nursing Questions

Growth and Development

Therapeutic Communication

Mental Health and Psychiatric Disorders

Recommended Books and Resources

Selected NCLEX-RN review books: 

  1.  MUST HAVE  Saunders Comprehensive Review for the NCLEX-RN® Examination, 7th Edition – A must-have book if you're taking the NCLEX-RN. You need to have this.
  2. Saunders Strategies for Success for the NCLEX – An invaluable guide that will help you master what matters most in passing nursing school and the NCLEX. 
  3. Mosby's Comprehensive Review of Nursing for NCLEX-RN – This book has helped nurses pass the NCLEX exam for over 60 years. Practice with over 600 alternative item question formats. 
  4. Lippincott Q&A Review for NCLEX-RN – A different approach to NCLEX-RN review. 
  5. Prioritization, Delegation, and Assignment: Practice Exercises for the NCLEX Examination – An NCLEX review book that focuses on prioritization, delegation, and patient assignment. 



  1. Numbers 13 and 14 SATA do not work properly. I was only allowed to pick one answer on both and therefore got them incorrect. I tried holding down the ctrl button to select multiple responses but that didn’t work either.


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