Learning with children who have emotional disorders

The modern world hasn’t failed to shed a light on many mental and emotional disorders a person can have. What’s more, it’s succeeded to show that children can suffer, too. We tend to believe kids can’t really have emotional disorders because they’re too small to develop them. In truth, these disorders most often develop at a young age. In the life of a child, learning is the most important thing. We have to equip them with academical and life skills to help them form into strong and capable adults. This is challenging enough but gets even more so when the child has an emotional disorder.

1. Set some rules

The most important thing to do at the beginning of the school year is to set some rules and boundaries. Children with disorders learn better when the lines of what they can and can’t do are clear. The rules also create a sort of routine that helps them grasp and understand their environment better. Of course, it’s important to pay attention to the way you form these rules.

It’s best to keep it simple and positive. Instead of writing things like “don’t hurt anyone” try rephrasing it to “respect others and yourself”. This will help the child feel like they’re part of the classroom, not just a burden. They don’t mean to hurt others, so playing the blame game will just make matters worse. As far as simple is concerned, it has proven to be most effective when there are up to six rules.

2. Try to understand them

It’s very easy to think that a child is acting out just because they’re spoilt. You have to remember that they’re not emotionally or intellectually mature enough to handle their emotional disorder, so they lash out.

The hardest part of working with children with emotional disorders is remembering that they are not their disorder. You have to understand and accommodate their behaviour while also steering them in the right direction without being cruel. Most importantly, you have to be very patient.

3. Find the right programme

Sometimes it’s essential to adjust the learning programme to the child in question. They simply cannot keep up with regular work. Situations like these can be hard to handle as they can easily single out the child and make them feel inadequate. It’s important to explain to them that you’re changing the programme to make it easier, not because they’re not good enough. Explaining things to the other children might be a good idea, too. This can help avoid bullying. Peers can be cruel sometimes.

In other cases, it’s not necessary to change the entire programme. You’ll just need to extend homework deadlines, for example. Make sure to do this for the whole class instead of just the child so as not to seem like you’re playing favourites.

4. Focus on the positives

The child facing issues in the classroom isn’t just their emotional disorder. They’re human, too. That means that they’re good at some things and that they have positive traits. Instead of focusing on what they’re doing wrong, focus on what they’re doing right. Were they kind to someone? Did they turn their homework in time? Are they doing exceptionally well today? Tell them. This will encourage the child to keep working hard and dealing with their issues.

What’s more, it will make them develop some self-respect and self-confidence. For these children, it’s very easy to feel out of place and like a sore thumb. A little praise goes a long way in showing them they’re an equal part of the classroom and will surely motivate them to deal with the workload.

5. Educate yourself

If you’re a teacher, you already know the value of education. If you’re a parent, you have to realize that knowing about your child’s disorder will help you deal with it better. As the problems children encounter with emotional disorders have been put into focus the last few years, there are many organizations and companies which specialize in emotional behaviour management.

Visiting seminars and workshops will help you get closer to the core of the problem. You have to realize that you or the child you’re working with are not alone. Many children worldwide face the same issues. Education is the key to creating a safe and productive environment the child will thrive in. There are also online courses you can take. With so many options to obtain valuable information nowadays, it’s simply unacceptable and inexcusable to walk around uneducated.

6. Talk about it

The first and most common feeling a child with a disability experiences is incompetence and unintelligence. In other words, they feel dumb. By not talking about it and just treating them a certain way, in their head, you’re confirming the thought that they’re not smart enough to handle class like the other children are. This is why communication is essential.

Your child’s disorder shouldn’t be a taboo topic. We tend to underestimate children and thing they don’t understand what’s going on, but they’re perfectly capable of living with the information if you explain it correctly. You should be able to talk to the child directly and openly about the issues they’re facing. They should feel confident enough to come to you for advice or just to vent. They need to know there’s nothing wrong with them, that they’re just a little different. This message is essential for their mental well-being and will follow them well into adulthood.


Emotional disorders aren’t something that should be taken lightly. If not managed properly, they can take a real toll on the present and future life of the child. Our goal is to avoid any more damage than it has already been caused. As a society, it is our responsibility to help our children excel in all aspects of life, especially learning. With these methods, we’re confident your child or your student will have a much easier time following the lesson plan and coping with the challenges of learning.

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