Does My Child Have an Emotional or Behavioural Disorder?
Note: To avoid the clumsy usage of ‘he/she’, this article refers to children as either he or she, with no specific preference for either.
While emotional and behavioural disorders were once treated with a huge stigma, the 21st century offers plenty of tools and support to parents and kids so that they can overcome their own unique struggles. The first step to treatment is, of course, diagnosis. Read on to better understand emotional and behavioural disorders in growing children.
What is an emotional or behavioural disorder?
Simply put - a behavioural disorder is a collection of symptoms of poor social and academic adjustment that often manifests in early childhood. It is important to understand that it is not related to biological (like Down’s Syndrome) or developmental disorders (like Asperger’s). Such disorders are thus treated with extra care and attention to growing children. In fact, with proper care, the symptoms of such disorders can be almost vanished by the time the child enters her twenties.
What are the most common disorders of this type?
Emotional and behavioural disorders that you may have heard of are:
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Some kinds of autism
It is important to understand each disorder as a unique case also because these are diagnosed from behaviour, not from a blood test or scan.
What are the signs of a behavioural disorder in my child?
While rough patches and periods of rebellion are common, a prolonged period of truancy and blatant misbehaviour may signal a disorder in your child. This may manifest in the following ways:
Difficulty in dealing with stress, challenges or disagreements
Often demonstrating anger
Misbehaviour and lying to put the blame on others
Chronic disobedience and problems with authority
Very easily agitated
Screaming and temper tantrums
What are the signs of an emotional disorder in my child?
Periods of emotional stress are a part of growing up, and kids must learn to deal with them. However, if you find that there is an unnatural period of extended problems with communicating and behaving in a healthy way, you may also see:
Not talking much
Anxiety (about exams, friends, strangers)
Fatigue (lying in bed all day, faking illness)
What are the treatments available for such disorders?
Important: The first step is to consult a medical professional.
If your child is diagnosed with an emotional or behavioural disorder, there are many things you can do. The most important is to reinforce your love and support to your child. A familial support system has been found to be crucial for such kids to grow and mature healthily in many studies.
Next, there are several options to consider. The maladjustment of such children could be due to certain extraneous factors such as malnutrition, illnesses like typhoid and jaundice, or lack of physical activity. Incorporating a healthy lifestyle can bring serious positive changes to your little one’s behaviour.
Psychological counselling and mentoring from parents, family, friends and role models also plays a huge role in treating such disorders. Professional help from a psychologist often helps and is nothing to be ashamed of. These professionals have a valuable amount of experience in dealing with children with problems - they can often understand your child’s perspective in such matters more easily.
For other cases, doctors may recommend drugs like Ritalin and Benzedrine. Drugs are sometimes used as anti-depressants (again, this does not imply any kind of weakness in your child - read more about the prescription of antidepressants here) or as mood regulators in kids who are hyperactive or violent.
Many schools offer learning and counseling aids to children with special needs. Concessions may also be made academically to help them cope with the pressures of education.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that such disorders can be overcome with patience and support. It’s also very important to get the right information and prescriptions - medication may not always be necessary, but sometimes it is.
Note: Please consult a certified medical professional before making any medical decisions. The information in this article is purely to spread awareness and does not claim any medical expertise.
We hope you gained something from this article. Remember to be patient and consistent with your little one, and to be there to talk and support her at all times. With your love, no disorder of any kind can stand in the way of her having a happy and successful life.