Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Bad kids turn into hurting adults

From a 52-year-long (and counting) study of 20,000 people in Britain, kids with severe, persistent behavior problems at ages 7, 11, and 16 (they're the same people) are twice as likely to have chronic widespread pain (CWP) at age 45 as good kids are, and they are more likely to be depressed, anxious, a druggie, or in psychiatric treatment.
"We are not sure what underlying biological mechanism underpins this relationship, but one possible explanation might be that both the childhood behaviour and the adult CWP are due to a long-term neuroendocrine dysfunction beginning in early life. The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, the primary neuroendocrine stress response system, has been shown to be associated with childhood behaviour. Similarly, altered HPA axis function has been reported to be associated with CWP. Early life experience, such as emotional stress due to past trauma, may have a lifelong impact on the neuroendocrine system (HPA axis), which in turn leads to behavioural problems in childhood and CWP in adulthood as well as other mental problems. Further research at molecular and genetic level are needed to clarify this."
Another complicated brain phenomenon. So as an early childhood educator, how should you deal with a kid with severe persistent behavior problems at age 3 or 5? I hope you didn't say expel him. It could be that it's intractable, really in the genes, so all you can do is protect the other kids. Or, it could be that a calm environment and firm hugs can reduce the production of whatever hormone is causing the problem, and therefore reduce the adult effects.

More likely, they'll find a medical treatment for the behavior, and all the child care provider has to do is make sure the parent accepts the referral. The study also said teachers were more reliable reporters of child behavior than parents were.

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