We live in a society where out of control children are labeled with one mental condition after another. Not to say these conditions don’t exist. Obviously they do; and millions of kids suffer with the consequences of them everyday. However, there isn’t always a medical reason for kids’ unsavory behaviors. Sometimes the issues may simply stem from lack of discipline.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is the most common childhood neurobehavioral disorder. Some of the symptoms associated with this condition include:
• being fidgety and easily distracted
• difficulty concentrating, paying attention and taking turns
• poor listening skills
• squirming when sitting down
• climbing and running at inappropriate times
• excessive talking
• being unable to play quietly
• being defiant and sometimes aggressive
• frequently interrupting others
As a childcare professional, you see these behaviors everyday. After all, most kids have times where they’re unruly and difficult to deal with – especially in group settings. So how can you tell if these behaviors are a result of ADHD or just poor discipline?
The National Institute of Mental Health suggests that ADHD behaviors are long-term, continuous and affects all aspects of a child’s life. If you have a youngster who acts out at home, but behaves and plays well with peers in the classroom, it’s not likely he has ADHD.
Sometimes it’s easier for adults to blame kids’ out of control behaviors on a medical condition rather than face the fact that their discipline practices are not working. Instead of changing the way they discipline, some parents will drag their tykes from doctor to doctor until they are finally given a medical reason for the behavior. This can sometimes lead to a misdiagnosis of ADHD.
If a child is falsely labeled or misdiagnosed with ADHD, he may simply misbehave because it’s expected of him or because he can get away with it. Even worse, since medication is often used to treat this condition, kids who are misdiagnosed are put on dangerous drugs for behavior problems a little discipline could have solved.
If a child in your early education program exhibits behavior problems that are over the top, talk to the parents about it. If the bad behavior is progressive or long term, you might consider keeping written documentation of daily incidents. If the parents suspect there are mental issues causing the child’s behavior problems, they can seek the help of a medical professional.