Psychological Disorders Among Children

Children are precious and as parents, we constantly worry about their psychological and physical health. When our children have a psychological issue, it affects us directly. We feel the need to make right decisions in such cases so that our child can overcome the issue but we are often at a loss as to how we should help our child. Being parents, we tend to make emotional decisions regarding our child’s mental health rather than smart ones. Childhood psychological disorders are often labelled as developmental disorders or learning disorders. Generally, while discussing such disorders we refer to mental and emotional problems that occur and are diagnosed when children are very young or in their early teenage. These disorders of learning condition, conduct (behaviour), hyperkenesis and developmental problems occur during childhood and may persist for a lifetime unless paid attention to in terms of addressing these issues expertly / medically.

  • The most common childhood mental disorders are Anxiety disorders, Depression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
  • There is no Single cause of mental disorder in children.
  • Diagnosis of mental disorders involve Combinations of Medical, developmental and mental health condition assessment.
  • A variety of treatments are available including effective medication, educational and occupational interventions as well as specific forms of Psychotherapy.
  • To prevent mental disorders attempt is made to address specific and nonspecific factors which strengthen protective factors.

COMMON MENTAL DISORDERS IN CHILDHOOD

  • Anxiety
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Eating disorder
  • Bathroom problems
  • Mood and emotional fluctuations
  • Disruptive behaviour
  • Learning disorder
  • Schizophrenia- distorted thoughts and feelings

CAUSES OF MENTAL DISORDERS IN CHILDREN

  • Hereditary factors, i.e., genetics.
  • Biological factors, i.e., brain composition, conditions of birth, etc.
  • Environmental stress- there are many environmental factors which lead to stresse that evolve into mental disorders in children, such as –
    1. Death of a loved one / parent or divorce of parents
    2. Dysfunctional family life
    3. Living in poverty
    4. Feeling of inadequacy, low self-esteem, anxiety or loneliness
    5. Frequently changing schools due to relocation of parents’ jobs

SYMPTOMS OF MENTAL DISORDERS AMONG CHILDREN

  • Emotional or withdrawn for two or more weeks.
  • Picking up or learning and implementing unhealthy and bad habits.
  • Fear for no reason.
  • Racing heart or fast breathing.
  • Out of control behaviour.
  • Not eating or throwing up frequently.
  • Losing weight.
  • Concentration difficulties.
  • Use of drugs or alcohol.
  • Mood swings.
  • Drastic change in behaviour or personality

COUNSELLING TECHNIQUES IN TREATMENT OF PSYCHOLOGICAL DISORDERS AMONG CHILDREN

1. PLAY THERAPY

Though playing is a universal activity of childhood, Indian parents and teachers these days tend to view it as a purposeless and useless activity. However, it is one of the firmly established principles of psychology that playing is very essential in the development process of the child. Playing and games promote all the domains of development. Playing promotes the basic skills of attention and memory advanced skills of problem solving. Today, playing is reduced to mobile gaming, but physical playing is more important as psychological and physical growth go hand in hand.

Apart from the growth, role play with same-aged children or even with parents is also of therapeutic value to children with emotional and behavioural problems. There are many aspects of playing-

  • Playing releases tensions and pent up emotions.
  • Playing allows the compensation for loss hurt or failure in fantasy.
  • Playing facilitates self-discovery
  • Playing offers opportunity to re-educate children.
  • Playing alters behaviour through role play and story-telling.
  • Playing is a medium of expression, learning and developing relationships.

2. ART THERAPY 

Art therapy is an accepted form of psychotherapy that utilizes art and artistic mediums to help children explain their thoughts and emotions uniquely. The idea behind this type of therapy is to use art as a primary means of communication. Something that can be useful for those who find it difficult to utilize their feelings.

DIFFERENT ART MEDIUMS

  • Painting
  • Crayons
  • Sculpture
  • Drawing
  • Photography
  • Found objects
  • Collages

BEHAVIOUR THERAPY AND COGNITIVE BEHAVIOUR THERAPY

The behaviour of children remains the primary factor in addressing mental disorders unless there are genetic or biological indicators to the contrary. Behaviour problems are situation specific. The causes of behaviour are situated in the present. Behaviour therapy and cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) differ in the way that CBT emphasizes on cognitive processes as mediators. These cognitive processers are the child’s feelings, thoughts, attributions, self-statements and cognitive variables. In contrast, behaviour therapy approaches typically focus on the directly observable behaviour. The immediate environmental setting of the child is usually modified to facilitate behaviour therapy.

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