Behaviour concerns in children are extremely broad and affect all aspects of their daily lives. Behaviour concerns can develop as a result of genetic or environmental factors, such as poverty or substance abuse during pregnancy. Behaviour concerns can also be influenced by children’s exposure to violence or trauma. Behavioral problems in childhood often persist into adulthood and contribute greatly to the risk of developing mental health-related issues such as depression, anxiety, and addiction (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Behaviour concerns are varied, but some forms of behaviour concerns include aggression, disobedience, lying, or stealing.

Behaviours that do not seem problematic at first but cause ongoing conflict later on are referred to as ‘covert misbehavior’ (NICE, 2012). Behaviour concerns are different from other mental disorders because they primarily manifest themselves through marked changes in a child’s conduct. Behaviour concerns can occur alone or together with other disorders.

Behaviours viewed as problematic should always be explored further to determine the underlying causes of these behaviours. Behavioural problems are not always apparent at an early age but can worsen with age if left untreated. Behaviour concerns in children do not need to be addressed until they start impacting a child’s daily life or the lives of their family or friends. Behaviour concerns can often be managed through parenting strategies and effective communication between parents and their children.

Behaviour concerns should only be treated as mental disorders if they persist for more than six months. Behavourial difficulties may begin to show during pregnancy or develop after birth (such as ASD). Behaviour concerns manifest themselves differently depending on the child’s age. Behaviour concerns in childhood are also influenced by the developmental stage of children, for example, during adolescence (NICE, 2012). Behavioural problems may be a sign of a more serious mental disorder and should always be taken seriously.

Behavioural issues can be attributed to a variety of different causes, including but not limited to: genetic factors, prenatal exposure to drugs or alcohol, cognitive or learning disabilities, and previous experiences of trauma or violence. Behaviour concerns often co-occur with other mental disorders such as depression and anxiety. Behavourial difficulties experienced in childhood can have long-term consequences on both physical health and mortality if left untreated early on. Behaviours that may seem problematic at first glances, such as lying or stealing, can be a symptom of other more serious behaviour concerns such as Oppositional Defiant Disorder or Conduct Disorder.

Behaviour concerns in children should always be taken seriously and explored further to determine the underlying cause of these behaviours. Behavioral difficulties are frequently a symptom of a more severe mental illness, and they should always be treated seriously.

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