Riverina children struggling to cope: study

A QUARTER of Riverina primary school students are struggling with emotional and behavioural issues, new research has revealed.  

Out of 800 children assessed from six public schools across the region, 25 per cent demonstrated “serious” difficulty maintaining emotions and building relationships. 

The pupils were drawn from kindergarten, year 1 and year 2.

Counsellor Barbara Harden claims the prevalence of interpersonal problems in childhood could be attributed to rapidly-changing lifestyle factors. 

“These ages are ages in which children are considered highly sensitive due to the significant biological, psychological and emotional development which occurs during this phase of life," she said.

“We’re seeing children experience these kind of issues more and more – and evidence suggests it may be due to the use of electronic media and the growing demands of parents.

“Mums and dads are spending less time with their children because of the pressures of living.

“The prevalence of ADHD diagnoses may also be related.”

It comes just two days after the release of Australian-first research warning students with ADHD are falling behind in literacy and numeracy.

While the cause of the issue is open to interpretation, a former principal believes it may be a result of lenient parenting.

The ex-Riverina principal, who did not want to be identified, believes the “lack of emotional control” demonstrated by young children is continually becoming more problematic.

“Some of the kids are very, very difficult to keep under control,” he said.

“It seems like they aren’t used to not getting their own way and have a lot of trouble controlling themselves when they become angry or upset.

“I applaud research that highlights these important issues.”

Concerns for childhood development have been echoed across the nation, with studies more and more frequently highlighting emotional issues in primary school-aged children. 

However, for Wagga mother-of-two Susan Godfrey, it is all a part of growing up. 

“Kids are always going to be irrational, emotional and difficult at that age – I don’t see it as a huge issue,” she said. 

“I don’t see it as the type of problem that would carry through to later on in life.”

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