Observation Guidelines: Assessing Health Behaviors of Children and Adolescents
- Frequent consumption of junk food (candy, chips, carbonated beverages, etc.)
- Unusual heaviness or thinness, especially if these characteristics become more pronounced over time
- Lack of energy
- Reluctance or inability to eat anything at lunchtime
Melissa is a good student, an avid runner, and a member of the student council. She is quite thin but wears baggy clothes that hide her figure, and she eats only a couple pieces of celery for lunch. Her teacher and principal suspect an eating disorder and meet with Melissa’s parents to share their suspicion.
Observe what children eat and drink during the school day. Seek free or reduced-rate breakfasts and lunches for children from low-income families. Consult with specialists and parents when eating habits are seriously compromising children’s health.
- Improvements in speed, complexity, and agility of gross motor skills (e.g., running, skipping, jumping)
- Restlessness and fidgeting (reflecting a need to release pent-up energy)
- Bullying and other socially inappropriate behaviors during playtime
- Cooperation and teamwork during organized sports activities
- Overexertion (increasing the risk of injury)
During a class field day, a fifth-grade teacher organizes a soccer game with her students. Before beginning the game, she asks them to run up and down the field, individually accelerating and decelerating while kicking the ball. She then has them practice kicking the ball in ways that allow them to evade another player. Only after such practice does she begin the game (Logsdon et al., 1997).
Incorporate regular physical activity into the daily schedule. Choose tasks and activities that are enjoyable and allow for variability in skill levels. Make sure youngsters have mastered necessary prerequisite skills before teaching more complex skills.
Rest and Sleep
- Listlessness and lack of energy
- Inability to concentrate
- Irritability and overreaction to frustration
- Sleeping in class
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