Perhaps your child has been behaving in unusual or alarming ways that you struggle to understand, and you’re wondering whether an emotional or behavioral disorder might be a possibility. Emotional and behavioral disorders (EBDs) are certainly common problems, but they always need to be properly addressed. Ignoring the situation will never make it go away. In fact, not seeking help has the potential to worsen the situation and/or have progressively more severe effects on your child’s life and education.
How Common are Emotional and Behavioral Disorders?
According to CDC, the parents of 8.3 million children in the United States from ages 4 to 17 have consulted with the staff of their child’s school or health care providers about emotional or behavioral difficulties that their child was experiencing. About 2.9 million U.S. children are taking medication prescribed for these problems. You should be aware, however, that medication is by no means appropriate or necessary in every case. Each child must be given individualized evaluation and support.
Examples of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders
Some examples of emotional and behavioral disorders seen in children include:
While anxiety is an emotion that we all feel on occasion, anxiety disorder can be a factor if the anxiety is persistent, excessive, and uncontrollable in character. This is especially the case when there does not seem to be any sort of reason for the anxiety, and everyday events and experiences are feared. In other words, irrational fear is the most significant component of anxiety disorders.
Different anxiety disorders that children may have include generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
Conduct disorder covers many different types of persistent problematic behavior. The most prevalent characteristic of conduct disorder is severe difficulty behaving in a way that is socially acceptable and following rules. Signs of conduct disorder might include behaviors such as lying and deceitful behavior (such as stealing); aggression towards people and/or animals; violation of important rules (an example might include truancy); and the destruction of property belonging to others.
Conduct disorder can be a challenging condition to treat and it needs persistent attention. It is crucial that you seek professional attention and assistance for a child with conduct disorder right away.
What Should You Do if You Think Your Child Might Have an Emotional or Behavioral Disorder?
If you suspect that your child might have an emotional or behavioral disorder, you should consult with your child’s teacher and school staff. They will have insight into your child’s behavior during the day. Your child’s school may also have special support and services that could be of help to your child. Additionally, you should also speak to your family doctor or pediatrician.
Working with Your Child’s Teacher
If your child has an emotional or behavioral disorder, it is essential that you and his or her teacher keep in contact and consult closely together to do what is needed for your child. This is important because the attitudes or behavior caused by your child’s emotional or behavioral disorder is likely to interfere with his or her education unless special steps are taken to make sure that he or she has an individualized plan (for example, a formalized individual education plan or IEP).
Your child’s teacher might also be able to facilitate peer tutoring. Having your child take part in a peer tutoring program will help him or her not only learn more effectively but build stronger and more positive connections with his or her peers and associations with the school environment.