Why some kids behave badly
When you witness a child “acting up” in public, what is your initial impression of their behavior? Are you quick to judge and initially think that the child has no home training and was not disciplined properly by the parents? In Nigeria, where discipline is usually engrained in the upbringing of children, you may very well still encounter kids that are noticeably always disruptive despite having parents that are tough disciplinarians.
When it comes to childhood behavior, it’s really imperative to recognize that sometimes what is deemed a behavioral problem may indeed be a sign of a more serious underlying medical issue.
A child who is seemingly always behaving badly, is not necessarily reflective of poor parenting.
Nonetheless, it’s important for parents to remain extremely cognizant of their child’s behavioral patterns to determine if there is any notable change that may warrant further medical evaluation.
Here are four health conditions in which increased awareness is critical in Nigeria.
These problems are typically under-diagnosed and under-treated in the country and may be contributing to the behavioral problems of a child.
Autism Spectrum Disorder
Autism is a developmental disorder that impacts both the communication skills and behavior of children.
It is usually characterized by impairments in social interactions.
A child with autism may exhibit some of the following behaviors:
shouting when frustrated
reacting or having outbursts to certain stimuli like loud sounds and bright lights
engaging in self-mutilating behaviors like head banging
communication problems like lack of eye contact, inability comprehending non-verbal cues, using inappropriate tone for speech, and repeating phrases over and over (echolalia)
There is often great stigma associated with autism in Nigeria, and the negative characterizations associated kids with the condition must cease.
It is true that autism is often challenging for families to deal with especially since there is no curative medication for it.
However, behavioral and educational therapy is part of the available interventions that children may benefit from when initiated early on in life.
More resources need to become available to support those affected with the condition in Nigeria.
ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder)
This mental health disorder is characterized by extreme hyperactivity and difficulty staying focused and paying attention.
Boys are typically more affected by the disorder than girls. A child with ADHD may be restless all the time and exhibit impulsive behavior.
The three sub types of ADHD that exist include type 1—the inattentive type, type 2— the hyperactive/impulsive type, and type 3 which is a combination of type 1 and 2 characteristics.
Children with type 1 behavior are usually unable to focus on just one thing and their distractibility levels are sky high. Those with type 2 ADHD are unable to sit still and may act on impulse all the time.
Many of these symptoms tend to manifest at an early age (usually before the pre-teen years) and may follow one into adulthood.
Treatment also comes in the form of behavioral therapy and sometimes even stimulant prescription medication for the condition.
Tic Disorders and Tourettes Syndrome
Children with tic disorders may exhibit spastic movements and twitches such as head jerking and repetitive eye blinking.
The prevalence is higher in boys and the most serious of the tic disorders is known as Tourette syndrome — a neurological condition in which one may display involuntary motor tics and phonic tics in the form of vocal outbursts.
Children may outgrow tics as the problem sometimes resolves on its own; but for others it proves to be an ongoing chronic battle for which behavioral therapy is necessary and potentially even medications.
Hearing Disorders (Sensorineural and Conductive Hearing Loss)
A child who is hearing impaired may display emotional and behavioral problems as a result of their frustration from not hearing the world around them. They may act out, become disinterested and socially disengaged, and have significant impairments with communication and speech/language development.
Hearing disorders in children often go unrecognized and misdiagnosed for another condition. Simple audiological screening practices may detect hearing problems.
As per the CDC, hearing screening is recommended for all babies by the time they are one month of age; those that don’t pass the screening test should have a full audiological hearing test.
Many Nigerians are unaware of the audiological screening and testing resources that exist in the country; audiological services are offered at International Hearing Centre with locations in Lagos, Abuja, and Enugu.
Moreover, autism, ADHD, tic disorders, and hearing disorders all represent conditions that may ultimately impair a child’s development and significantly affect behavior.
Remember that misbehavior from time to time is an expected part of growing up; however, if behavioral problems are ongoing and seem to be disrupting everyday life, it may be time for a child to be assessed by a healthcare professional.