Social and Emotional Development in Children with Challenging Behaviors
Many different terms are used to describe and categorize children who exhibit problematic behavior. However, it remains unclear how the available classification systems apply to young children, particularly when normal developmental variations are taken into consideration. There are no norms to help us determine, for example, what constitutes normal activity level, patience, or attention during the preschool years. Additionally, children who have difficulty expressing themselves with words may attempt to resolve their conflicts physically. There is agreement, however, that “it’s not the presence of specific problem behaviors that differentiates ‘normal’ from ‘abnormal,’ but their frequency, intensity, chronicity, constellation, and social context” (Campbell, 1988, p. 60).
Despite the relative lack of data on their application to preschool children, a number of classification systems exist and are used to diagnose and describe specific emotional and behavioral problems in children. It is important for professionals working with young children with special needs to be familiar with these systems, particularly because some of these systems have measurement devices that may need to be completed by teachers as part of the diagnostic evaluation process.
One of the most commonly recognized systems for classifying child psychopathology is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) of the American Psychiatric Association (2000). Now in its fourth edition, this system provides a multidimensional framework for conceptualizing problem behaviors. The current version of the DSM has more specific diagnoses for children than any previous version and requires greater specification for a professional to assign a specific diagnosis. This is the diagnostic system that typically is used by most mental health professionals in the United States.
Regardless of the classification system used, there is a very high prevalence of young children in whom parents and teachers report challenging behaviors. According to Rockhill, Collett, McClellan, and Speltz (2006), 2 to 3% of children fit the criteria for a clinical diagnosis of oppositional defiant disorder (ODD). Among other behaviors, these children exhibit anger, defiance, and noncompliance. About 25 to 50% of the children who are diagnosed with ODD also have attention deficit– hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) (Rockhill et al., 2006). Moreover, children with ODD may also have depressive or anxiety disorders. It is important to note, however, that because of problems with how symptoms are defined for these disorders, we cannot be sure how often they actually co-occur (Rockhill et al., 2006).
© ______ 2009, Merrill, an imprint of Pearson Education Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The reproduction, duplication, or distribution of this material by any means including but not limited to email and blogs is strictly prohibited without the explicit permission of the publisher.
- Coats and Car Seats: A Lethal Combination?
- Kindergarten Sight Words List
- Child Development Theories
- Signs Your Child Might Have Asperger's Syndrome
- 10 Fun Activities for Children with Autism
- Why is Play Important? Social and Emotional Development, Physical Development, Creative Development
- The Homework Debate
- Social Cognitive Theory
- GED Math Practice Test 1
- First Grade Sight Words List