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Year : 2012  |  Volume : 2  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 1-2

The emergence of behavioral disorders in children and adolescents

Department of Behavioral Medicine, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, Sultan Qaboos University and Hospital, Al-Khoud, Sultanate of Oman

Date of Web Publication23-Feb-2012

Correspondence Address:
Marwan Al-Sharbati
Department of Behavioral Medicine, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, Sultan Qaboos University and Hospital, Al-Khoud
Sultanate of Oman
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2231-0738.93122

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How to cite this article:
Al-Sharbati M. The emergence of behavioral disorders in children and adolescents. Int J Nutr Pharmacol Neurol Dis 2012;2:1-2

How to cite this URL:
Al-Sharbati M. The emergence of behavioral disorders in children and adolescents. Int J Nutr Pharmacol Neurol Dis [serial online] 2012 [cited 2022 Oct 7];2:1-2. Available from:

During the past few decades, there was a dramatic decline in the incidence of both communicable diseases (such as Tuberculosis, Typhoid, Cholera, Plague, Malaria, poliomyelitis, and so on) and malnutrition (in the form of undernutrition), among children and adolescents, in many parts of the world. That decline has been attributed to many factors, among them are: The improvement in health awareness, housing, economic state, environmental sanitation, nutrition, implementation of national Expanded Immunization Programs (EPI), and the discovery of efficient antibiotics and antibacterial drugs. Furthermore, easy accessibility and widespread provision of health services through the concept of primary healthcare played a major role as well. Meanwhile, a significant rise in the incidence rates of behavioral disorders appears on the horizon; among these disorders are: Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder, Autistic Spectrum Disorder, Conduct Disorder, Emotional Disorders, Drug Abuse Disorder, and the like. The evident rise in the incidence of behavioral disorders may be caused by two important factors: The first, the increased awareness and interest about children's behavior, especially after the drop in communicable diseases, while the second is caused by the actual increase in the incidence of these disorders. In the past, people thought that children were not afflicted by psychiatric disorders as adults, because they are 'little creatures', who are not 'mature' enough to recognize and respond to the different psychosocial stresses in the environment. It is well known that early diagnosis and intervention of psychiatric disorders (starting from childhood) yield a better prognosis and less suffering, thus improving the quality of life of the individual. This can be achieved by increasing the awareness of both the physicians and the public about the psychology of children, proper monitoring of the child's behavior, and early rectification of the disturbed behavior by appropriate measures, such as: Psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, or in certain cases by medications when needed [as in the case of moderate - severe attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)].

At the same time, it is worthwhile mentioning that the change of lifestyle and the use of new technologies (such as satellites, e-games, cell phones, and the Internet) may predispose children to new types of problems, such as, obesity and antisocial behavior (like violence, delinquency, illegal sexual relationships); hence, it is strongly recommended that children be supervised properly when they are engaged in such activities, in order to avoid their exposure to 'bad' games, films, websites, and the like, and at the same time to encourage them to practice regular physical exercise and to adopt a healthy lifestyle, to prevent the development of obesity and promote both physical and mental health.

The common saying, 'prevention is better than cure' is very valid here. This can be achieved by 'flexible' parental style, and 'soft,' but 'firm' discipline of children, without using physical or emotional punishment, which usually give rises to unwanted consequences. The prophet Muhammad (peace be placed upon him) stated, "when gentleness is found in anything, it will make it beautiful, and when it is removed from it, it renders it ugly", this should be the base of child rearing, 'gentleness!'. In order to make the child rearing practice successful, the fathers need to be more engaged in the process of children's discipline and care, especially for boys, and do not leave that critical mission to the caretakers and mothers alone. It is nice to mention here the translation of the old Arabic saying that was rooted many centuries ago, 'play with him seven, discipline him seven, and accompany him seven, into reality' - this will ensure the best discipline approach! This will guarantee rearing through play for the preschool age (first seven), as the child is not well prepared during that time to be taught by conventional methods. In the second seven, which corresponds to school age, the discipline can be conducted by conventional teaching methods. Finally, by making intimate friendship during the third seven, which coincides with adolescence, when we can give him / her the recommendations and advise that he / she desperately needs, and answer their many curious questions. If parents are not ready to reply, other sources (some are dangerous) might be sought (such as bad friends, unwanted websites, and so on). This close relationship will increase the confidence, strengthen the relationships between the parents and their adolescent, ensure emotional balance (thus reducing emotional disorders), and limit the danger of acquiring bad habits (as drug abuse), with its disastrous sequelae (e.g. sexually transmitted diseases).

To conclude, more vigilance is needed toward observing the children's behavior, and identifying the disturbed ones, in order to subject them for early rectification and follow-up. On the other hand, 'flexible' child rearing practices are needed to prevent the development of emotional and personality disorders, and this can be achieved only by active (paternal) participation in that process!

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