The conception of childhood has been changing and evolving over the years. It has taken many years and studies on development and evolutionary psychology, to go from the times when children were considered “miniature adults”, therefore requiring them to work as far as they were physically able to do so until they began to conceive childhood as a special time and with its own characteristics.
However, even today there is much confusion about this early stage of life. There is often a tendency to think that children cannot suffer from emotional problems and disorders such as anxiety or depression and, instead, it is in this current age when this happens most frequently.
Our children may have emotional problems that we relate more to adult life. The difference is that sometimes they express it differently than older people do.
WHAT EMOTIONAL PROBLEMS CAN THERE BE IN CHILDHOOD?
Some emotional problems are more typical of childhood and better known to the general population. Some of them would be:
– Attachment difficulties with their parents.
– Jealousy , mainly of siblings.
– Low tolerance for frustration , which refers to the difficulty of managing emotions when something does not come out when we want or when it is necessary to wait.
However, young children can also have a number of other emotional problems that tend to relate only to adults:
– Depression can occur at an early age, not only in adults and adolescents, and is often one of the most difficult problems to identify.
– Anxiety , either in its generalized form or manifested before the separation of their attachment figures.
– Specific phobias.
– Sleep problems, such as insomnia.
– Social maladjustment, since peer relationship problems can occur very early for very different reasons.
HOW CAN WE BE AWARE OF THE EXISTENCE OF THESE EMOTIONAL PROBLEMS?
Sometimes the most difficult thing is to realize that some of these emotional problems are occurring and are making the little ones suffer. The most basic and elementary way to become aware of their existence is to observe the behavior of our children.
Most likely, in the presence of these emotional problems, there will be changes in the behavior of the children. Many experts claim that behind all behavior problems, there is some kind of emotional problem. Clearly, limits and rules need to be clearly set to avoid these behavior problems. But, it is very likely that they still manifest as a result of some emotional problem. Therefore, if we only stop and try to solve the bad behavior of our children without knowing why it is occurring, we will not be solving the basic problem.
In addition, many of these behaviors can be disconcerting since, as we said, they tend to be different from the way in which adults express them. For example, an adult in a depressed state will tend to be more withdrawn, withdrawn, with a “sluggish” behavior . Instead, the opposite is often the case for children, as if they are accelerating and even aggressive behaviors emerge in response to depression.
Other problems will be easier to identify. For example, a child who suffers greatly when it comes to being separated from his parents, not only when going to school but in any other circumstance, could be suffering from separation anxiety.
However, even in the cases that seem most obvious, we can be wrong, so it is important to consult with psychologists specialized in childhood to help us identify these behaviors and find out why they are manifested. We cannot forget that another added difficulty is the children’s own difficulty in telling us what is happening to them , often not so much because they do not want to tell us but because perhaps they do not even know it themselves.