Emotional and behavioural disorders
A significant percentage of children and young people experience a form of emotional and behavioural disorder, but there are many ways that teachers can support the learning and wellbeing of these students.
The New Zealand Health Survey of 2012-2016 found that 8% of children aged 3-14 were experiencing significant emotional, social, or behavioural problems. The most common emotional and behavioural disorders in childhood include disruptive behaviour problems, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), oppositional, defiant or conduct disorders, and, later in childhood, anxiety and depression. Emotional and behavioural disorders can be classified as ‘externalising’, like ADHD and conduct disorder, or ‘internalising’, like anxiety or depression.
The issues that students with emotional and behavioural disorders face directly impact their learning and achievement and can also affect social interactions within the classroom. In order to effectively design and carry out instruction, teachers need to understand the most common emotional and behavioural disorders that affect children in the classroom, and to be aware of teaching strategies that can be utilised to reach students who are experiencing these issues. Although a student may require therapy or counseling outside of school, there are many things that teachers and school staff can do to support students with emotional and behavioural disorders.
There is extensive research about how emotional and behavioural disorders affect children and young people’s wellbeing and learning, and a growing body of evidence about best to support these students at school.
Emotional and behavioural disorders can affect students in a number of ways. Students with externalising disorders such as ADHD may struggle with inattention, disruptive behaviour and social skills, while students with internalising disorders like anxiety and depression may feel physically unwell, have difficulty interacting with peers, or struggle academically. It is important for teachers to understand how students may be affected by emotional and behavioural disorders, and to create a classroom environment in which these students feel supported to succeed. In addition to taking a positive approach and having consistent, well-structured routines and clear expectations, teachers can support individual students to learn how best to manage their own feelings, behaviour and learning. Peers also play an important role in supporting students with emotional and behavioural disorders.
- How can I build my knowledge about the most common emotional and behavioural disorders and how they affect students in the classroom?
- Am I aware of any students in my classes who have specific emotional and behavioural needs?
- How can I develop a classroom environment and a set of routines and expectations that will support the learning and wellbeing of students with emotional and behavioural disorders?
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