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Early Childhood Emotional Behavioral Disorders

Emotional disorders of childhood

The Isle of Wight studies  diagnosed anxiety disorders in 2 per cent of 10- and 11-year-olds. The most common anxiety disorders are separation anxiety, disorders of childhood, generalized anxiety disorder, specific phobias and social anxiety disorders of childhood.

Separation anxiety disorders

Anxiety arises in response to separation from parents and other attachment f igures. It is most prominent during the pre-school years. When the intensity of anxiety is developmentally inappropriate and handicapping, separation anxiety disorder is diagnosed. Children with this condition are reluctant to let their parents out of their sight and complain of physical symptoms, for example, headaches, stomach ache and nausea when separation is enforced (in the mornings before setting out for school). Behaviour management techniques, reward systems using star charts to motivate change and graded exposure to increasing separation have been found to be helpful.

Generalized anxiety disorders

This is present in roughly 3 per cent of children who experience persistent anxieties and worries which are not related to a particular event or situation. Somatic complaints are common. Relaxation and cognitive therapy have been shown to be helpful.

Phobic anxiety disorders

Specific phobias are common in early childhood. Animal phobias are common before the age of 2–4. Anxiety leads to avoidance and distress. It is more common in girls. Desensitization, support and cognitive techniques have been found to be helpful.

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