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List: Posted: 05/25/11
All children will act out at some point, whether it is throwing a tantrum or stomping up the stairs to their rooms after being 'told off.' However, how do you tell the different between a behavioral disorder and a tantrum, and most importantly, what can you do to solve the problem?
Determining whether or not there is an actual behavioral disorder can be the most difficult part. A behavioral disorder may range from mild to severe, with many shades of gray in between. If your child’s behavior is disruptive at school or at home, and is hindering their social and educational development, they may have some sort of behavioral disorder. They key is to learn to spot the signs of an actual behavioral disorder early, and to get help from a qualified person to help you decide what you can do to help combat their symptoms.
One of the key signs of a behavioral disorder in children is having too much energy (hyperactivity) combined with an inability to sit still (restlessness). However, if this is not regularly repeated behavior, it may be attributable to a bellyful of gummy bears and three cans of Pepsi! Hyperactivity symptoms can be caused by consuming candy or foods containing food coloring, in particular, the color red (E120). This safe food dye is extracted from the Cochineal beetle, and has been attributed to increased hyperactivity in children. Cut out colored foods for several weeks and monitor your child's behavior for improvement.
One type of disorder that may be affecting your child if they always have too much energy is ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). This is not a learning disability, but rather a physical condition. Children with ADHD will be unable to sit still or keep focused, and will not be able to follow instructions, finish homework, or organize their life (or bedroom!)
A second disorder which is almost the opposite of ADHD is Autism. Children with autism may be 'closed off' to you and other people, and will have big trouble making friends, figuring out other people's body language, making eye contact, and communicating their needs. They may often have temper tantrums or anger fits due to the frustration of not being able to communicate properly.
To help identify and treat your child's behavioral disorder, you must be patient with them. Your child's speech and language therapist, school psychologist or occupational therapist will be able to tell you the best ways to deal with their symptoms and improve their lives. Be there for your child when they act out, and encourage them to do otherwise with healthy and positive support.
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