Intervention can prevent future substance abuse

Internalizing behaviors are characterized as detrimental, inward-focused behaviors including depressed and anxious moods, antagonistic self-thinking, social withdrawal and low self-confidence. Internalizing behaviors in young children can manifest as early as first grade. Left untreated, they can undermine a young child’s ability to be successful in school, and eventually develop into serious health problems such as substance abuse, alcoholism and eating disorders later in life. Internalizing problems that occur daily, for at least two weeks, may signal a psychiatric disorder such as a major depressive disorder or a generalized anxiety disorder is present and requires immediate intervention. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, depression and other mood disorders increases the risk of suicide – the third leading cause of death among U.S. adolescents aged 15 to 19.

Children who use internalizing behaviors to cope frequently have difficulty forming healthy relationships, struggle to maintain friendships, isolate themselves and exhibit anti-social behavior. More times than not, schools are not effectively prepared to support students displaying severe internalizing behaviors, leaving many children vulnerable to life-threatening symptoms such as suicidal ideations. To support early intervention for this student population, it is important to understand how teachers and parents can work together to intercede to teach young children appropriate methods to cope with poor self-perceptions and feelings, to problem solve, as well as how to relate to their peers. Additionally, it is necessary to understand that young children experience internalizing symptoms in school and at home due to social-skill deficits and repeated peer rejection. Identifying…

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