When children grow up to adolescents, they show signs of behavioural changes that can be categorised into habit disorders, psychological disorders, disruptive behaviour, sleep problems and anxiety disorders.
Habit disorders may be an attempt to beat stress. Some of the most commonly seen habit disorders include thumb sucking, Nail biting, hail pulling, air swallowing, breath holding, manipulating different parts of the body, head banging, biting or hitting themselves, body rocking etc. All children will show repetitive behaviours, but whether they fall under the category of ‘disorders’ depends on the frequency of the habit. For instance, for children in their infancy, sucking thumb is a normal phenomenon, but if it persists as he/she grows up, it may be a warning sign.
The psychological disorders that a child manifests are in terms of
• Physical function.
• Mental performance.
Problems in these arenas can be caused by factors such as the style of parenting, marital or family problems, child neglect or abuse, chronic illness or injury, overindulgence, bereavement or separation etc. Children do not usually make their reactions perceivable as soon as a problem occurs, though they may react later. Proper guidance can help children to prepare themselves in advance of any probable traumatic events such as separation or elective surgery. Parents must motivate their children to be expressive about their fears and anxieties.
Certain behaviours are normal to occur to a child at an early age, but if it does at a later stage, it may invite intervention. Some behaviours such as temper tantrums or breath-holding may be as a result of frustration or anger at the child’s inability to control the environment he/she is in. Parents can control this behaviour of the child by removing the child from the room that is causing the behaviours. While stealing or lying may be common in the initial stages of the developmental stage, intervene when the habit persists.
Sleep problems include either too much or too little in a child. Disturbance during sleep at the developmental stage may have harmful effects on the cognition of the child. Parents must encourage the child to sleep at regular bedtime.
Anxiety and fear are normal for a child in the developmental stage, but if it persists for too long, it may develop into a socially disabling condition. Anxiety disorders can be managed by way of treating the underlying psychiatric condition, parental training, family therapy etc.
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