A new study into emotional and behavioural problems in Australian schoolboys aged eight to nine years old has found new and concerning trends in both the incidence and the impact of these problems, but no definitive cause.

The Murdoch Children’s Research Institute’s Childhood to Adolescents Transition Study (CATS) found that one in five boys in this age group exhibit these problems. Emotional problems include experiencing an unusual amount of strong emotions, unpredictable patterns of emotion as well as difficulty expression or regulating their emotions. Behavioural problems included tantrums, aggression, hyperactivity and being easily distracted.

The impacts on school performance observed could be severe, including being three times more likely then their peers to be rated as having poor English or math skills on average, and being up to 12 months behind their peers in NAPLAN results.

Leader of the research Dr Lisa Mundy claims these problems are unlikely to be due to academic pressure, and may instead be linked to an earlier onset of puberty compared to previous generations.

Parents are encouraged to be aware of the signs of distress in boys of this age in particular, including inexplicable sadness, anxiety or behavioural issues. Parents should help boys to express and manage their emotions, and should not hesitate to seek outside help should they still be concerned.

Read the full article by David Taylor at: Primary school boys increasingly exhibiting emotional and behavioural problems, study shows

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