Problems in children and adolescents and its treatment
What are the problems in children and adolescents?
Childhood is a decisive stage in a person’s life, and many of the problems in children and adolescents find their origin here. It is at this stage when the identity of the individual begins to develop, as well as her psychological features; Along with physical and cognitive growth, social relationships begin to develop, generating bonds and affective ties. All these factors give rise to the personality traits of each subject, as well as their psychological patterns.
For these reasons, healthy and positive childhood is the foundation on which a balanced personality is based; on the contrary, many of the problems in children and adolescents can end up leading to subsequent psychological disorders. However, not all problems are the same nor do they require the same approach. Thus, a distinction can be made between several different types of problems in children and adolescents.
In childhood, we first find emotional problems, which are usually the most frequent; These include disorders such as phobias, anxiety, depression, etc. A second type would be that of learning problems, such as Attention Deficit Disorder. And another differentiated typology would be behavioral problems, such as aggressiveness or social withdrawal.
Along with all these childhood problems, other specific situations can also occur in adolescence. This is one of the most complex stages of life, where severe internal and external changes are experienced; therefore, adapting to these new situations can be difficult, both for the adolescent and for those around him. Thus, the appearance of psychological problems in adolescents is not uncommon. Some disorders, such as anorexia, bulimia, isolation, rebellion, etc., are very characteristic of this vital period.
What are the problems in children and adolescents?
According to various studies, approximately 22% of children suffer or have suffered from some type of psychological disorder. However, childhood and adolescence are a very long, varied, and complex period, so it cannot be said that the problems in children and adolescents have a single cause or trigger. On the contrary, each moment of this period has different stages, which are differentiated. In each of these stages, individual development goes through different moments; Thus, the causes of each problem varies depending on what stage we are in:
Early childhood: basic emotions and the first affective bonds develop. The understanding of the outside world is still very limited, and essentially self-centered thinking occurs.
From 2 to 6 years old: you begin to understand individuality and develop your personality. At the same time, you begin to understand the outside world and look for ways to adapt to it.
From 6 to 12 years old: the child can begin to understand abstract concepts and develop complex social relationships. The individual identity begins to be configured according to people outside the family circle.
Logically, in each of these stages, specific situations and conditions occur, which can lead to specific complications. However, all of them could be classified to a greater or lesser extent in three different categories:
Social factors: the individual’s family and social environment are also of great importance in individual development. There is a strong influence of these elements when it comes to suffering or not from a psychological disorder. For example, people who have grown up in an unstructured environment, who have been bullied at school, or children who have not had a proper attachment to their parents are much more likely to experience emotional or behavioral problems.
Biological factors: the existence of biological and physiological factors in personality patterns has been demonstrated. Elements such as metabolism, brain or neurological functions, biochemical factors, etc., have a direct relationship with the appearance of possible psychopathological disorders in children and young people.
Personal factors: individual personality is also a relevant element regarding the probability of suffering from a disorder. Thus, children with traits of anxiety, depression, or low self-esteem may be more likely to develop an emotional disorder. The same happens, for example, with children with low empathy, few social skills, impulsiveness, or emotional instability.
What are the main symptoms of problems in children and adolescents?
Very often it is difficult to diagnose problems in children and adolescents since they are often confused with other behavior problems. Identifying a psychological disorder, and differentiating it from a simple behavior problem, can be difficult for parents; Furthermore, children often do not have the tools or the vocabulary to explain their concerns.
However, there are a series of alarm signals that may be indicative that something is wrong. Therefore, some of the indications that may indicate the need to seek professional help would be the following:
Mood disturbances: the child shows emotions of sadness, irritability, or withdrawal for more than two weeks.
Intense emotional reactions: if the child experiences strong emotional reactions, such as fear, worry, or euphoria.
Changes in behavior: when the child shows behaviors different from those that usually develop; This is especially accused if they are aggressive, rebellious, or out of control behavior.
Inability to focus: Difficulty making an intellectual effort or focusing on a task.
Severe weight disturbances: may be indicative of an eating disorder, such as anorexia or bulimia.
Physical ailments: headaches or tummy aches may indicate somatization; This is a form of other problems, such as anxiety or sadness.
Injuries: Some problems can lead the child to self-harm. Some warning signs would be the appearance of cuts, burns, or scratches on the child’s body.
Addictions: the consumption of substances such as alcohol, tobacco, or drugs at an early age can be related to emotional problems. Sometimes minors consume these substances as a way of coping or masking their feelings.
What types of problems in children and adolescents are there?
As we have already indicated, the problems in children and adolescents can be very varied. Among the most common disorders, we find the following:
Anxiety is one of the most frequent disorders among problems in children and adolescents. Anxiety is an adaptive response that alerts us to possible threats; therefore, it is an emotion that all people experience and that it fulfills a function, it is not bad. However, when a child presents high and sustained anxiety over time, it is an alarm signal. In these cases, it is recommended to go to a specialist so that she can assess if there is a problem.
Phobias and fears in children
Fear, like anxiety, is an innate emotion in all people. As such, all children experience fear at different times in their lives. Thus, we can affirm that each age has its characteristic fears and fears. In reality, there is only one problem when fear ceases to be transient and becomes permanent; or when we speak of irrational and uncontrollable fear, capable of generating extreme reactions such as nausea, tremors, dizziness, etc. Depending on the child and the level of severity of the phobia, the treatment to be used will vary in intensity and duration.
Child depression and mood
Although we are often unaware of this, depression can also affect children. However, their lack of maturity makes them more vulnerable, since they do not always know how to explain their feelings or emotions. Therefore, it is important to pay attention to those children who are at increased risk of depression; This would be the case, for example, of those who have lost a relative, or who live in an unstructured family environment.
Since each child is different, it is necessary to know the minor very well to identify if he is suffering from depression, since simple sadness should not be confused with a true depressive disorder. Thus, knowing the habitual behavior patterns of the child, we will be able to identify if he is developing an emotional disorder.
Self-esteem problems in children
Self-esteem is the child’s awareness of her worth, and of loving and accepting herself as she is. It is a basic element in the formation of the child’s identity, on which her learning capacity will depend. Both her abilities and her social relationships will depend on her.
Some behaviors may be indicative that the child is suffering from self-esteem problems. An example would be when you start to avoid intellectual or sports activities for fear of failure; when you cheat or lie by blaming others for not making your own mistakes; or when aggressive or extremely shy attitudes are adopted. In all these cases, it is advisable to talk to the child to find out if she is suffering from self-esteem problems.
All children and adolescents misbehave at times, it is something inherent to mature and explore their limits. However, sometimes a truly hostile pattern of behavior can develop. In these cases, we would no longer speak of specific situations, but a real behavioral disorder.
Challenging behaviors like permanent tantrums, disobedience, persistent lies, or aggressiveness would fall into this category. In these cases, it is advisable to seek professional help, since otherwise, the problem may worsen over time.
Attention deficit, concentration, and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children
Attention Deficit Disorder is the most common disorder among problems in children and adolescents. People with ADHD have difficulty maintaining attention, impulsiveness, hyperactivity, or excess movement. The basis of this problem is neurological, and can lead to school or social difficulties in those who suffer from it; however, fortunately, this disorder has a good response to treatment.
Relationship problems and social skills in children
Social skills are the set of behaviors that we use to relate to other people and our environment. These skills begin to be acquired in childhood and gradually develop over time; For this reason, it is normal for children to experience specific difficulties in this area.
However, when these problems are persistent and continuous, the minor may need help to improve their social relationships. Excessive shyness, low self-esteem, or constant fear can be some red flags. If these problems are not adequately treated, they can become chronic over time and even persist into adulthood.
Dependency problems in children
The process of maturing and developing children is to become independent and self-sufficient. Thus, minors go from absolute dependence when they are babies, to an autonomous life in the adult stage. In the early stages of life, the child requires her parents for everything; Little by little, gradually, this dependency is reduced, until finally becoming self-sufficient.
However, sometimes it happens that this process of gradual emancipation does not evolve as it should. This tends to be decisively influenced by the attachment style and the type of education given to the child. In this sense, how the parents behave with the minor ends up directly influencing the personality that the minor develops, how autonomous or dependent he is, and to what extent he can become self-sufficient.
Elimination problems are defined as the difficulty in controlling the sphincters. The most common is enuresis (urine control) and encopresis (stool control). It is a common problem in childhood, and it affects not only the child but the entire family; when prolonged in time, it can even be a source of conflict between the child and the parents. This is a fairly frequent problem, and although it may be intentional it is generally involuntary. Fortunately, this disorder has a very good response to psychological treatment.
School failure is another frequent difficulty among problems in children and adolescents. This problem implies the inability to assimilate the academic content established according to the age and development of the minor. Since this can come motivated by different causes, it is not possible to attribute the responsibility exclusively to the student; on the contrary, in most cases, the educational community and the family also have an important role.
The importance of this problem lies in the fact that it affects the personal dimensions of the student, such as their self-esteem, but also in the fact that the development of their later life can have an important impact if as a consequence they abandon their studies. In these cases, not knowing how to properly guide the child at a given moment, can condition her entire professional future.
Bullying is any form of physical or psychological abuse that occurs repeatedly between students; Although it begins in the classroom, bullying is also kept outside of them, through the internet or social networks. This problem has worsened in recent years, given the feeling of impunity for those who cause it. It usually occurs between 12 and 16 years of age, and its consequences are extremely serious.
Abuse tends to be directed towards those who are perceived as weaker, either physically or emotionally. Also, the aggressor develops the obsessive need to attack his victim, given the feeling of superiority that it provides. Generally, it develops with the complicity, or at least the silence, of the rest of the students. At any indication that a child is being bullied, it is imperative to report it and seek help.
Sleep disorders in children
Sleep disorders are common in children, to such an extent that some studies indicate that about 25% – 30% of visits to the pediatrician are related in one way or another to this problem. This problem involves the child’s inability to sleep, falling asleep at inappropriate times, or being too sleepy. The main problem is that it is not usually easy to determine when there is a real sleep disorder, since a sleep problem is not the same as a sleep disorder.
Sleep problems are sleep patterns that may be unsatisfactory to the parents, child, or pediatrician. However, not all of these problems are abnormalities, nor do they all require treatment. On the contrary, a sleep disorder occurs when there is an alteration in the physiological function of sleep. In these cases, there is an impairment of the child’s psychological or physical well-being.
Eating disorders in children
Although eating disorders also occur in adults, they are common in children and, above all, in adolescents; This is especially true in some specific pathologies, such as anorexia and bulimia. Furthermore, due to their health implications, they are possibly the most serious of the problems in children and adolescents. However, eating disorders also occur at younger ages, especially those related to food aversion. In any case, given the severity of these disorders, it is imperative to seek professional help as soon as they are detected.
Learning difficulties are a varied group of problems, characterized by the inability to acquire certain knowledge or skills. These difficulties are usually related to the ability to read, write, understand, reason, or calculate mathematically; depending on the capacity in question, we would be facing one type of disorder or another.
These problems are quite frequent, and it is estimated that between 10% and 15% of children suffer from them. Various studies indicate that these learning difficulties are one of the most frequent causes of school failure. The correct diagnosis of the problem in question is one of the most important elements for an effective treatment.
The progress of a child in her psychomotricity allows her to be able to better control her movements and emotional impulses, as well as a better adaptation to the social, family, and school environment. Psychomotor problems are also an element that can hinder learning, which makes early intervention essential; For this reason, working with psychomotricity improves the child’s relationship and communication with others.
Addictions in children
An addiction is a habit of uncontrolled consumption, generally to a substance, such as drugs, tobacco, or alcohol. However, there are also addictions without substance, such as addiction to video games, the internet, or the telephone. In fact, in childhood these are the most frequent, and very generally referred to the use of technologies; it would be already in adolescence where substance addictions become more important. In the suspicion that our son may be suffering from an addiction, it is recommended to seek specialized help.
How are problems in children and adolescents treated?
The family, educational, and social environment influence the child and her mental health, as well as her experiences outside the home. When it comes to young children, parents, especially first-timers, often don’t know how to handle certain situations. In these cases, it is important to detect the child’s problems early. A psychologist specialized in child and youth therapy can offer guidelines and keys to better understand the child’s needs.
On the other hand, we find the problems of adolescents. This is a difficult stage in a person’s life, which causes the minor to be disoriented; Furthermore, parents are often outnumbered or do not know how to help their children. Therefore, you have to be aware of their behaviors and attitudes, but also of their emotional and social development. Just as you have to be aware of whether the minor is experiencing personal difficulties, at school or with her friends, you must have the ability to guide and help her at this time. In these cases, psychotherapy can offer useful tools to help solve adolescent problems.