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Absenteeism and Behavioral Issues Are Only a Few Effects of Emotional Dysregulation

April 11, 2024

The New York Times1 recently explored chronic absenteeism in K–12 students since the pandemic, finding it has spiked and delving into the reasons and statistics. Alarmingly, many of the children have stayed home due to anxiety, other mental health issues, illnesses other than COVID, and to support their families, among other reasons.

A Texas mother shared that her daughter fell behind in math during remote learning and then suffered so much anxiety due to being behind that she didn’t want to return to school. The article went on, "Dr. Rosanbalm, the Duke psychologist, said both absenteeism and behavioral outbursts are examples of the human stress response, now playing out en masse in schools: fight (verbal or physical aggression) or flight (absenteeism)."

Long-Lasting Impacts of Chronic Absenteeism

Children experiencing chronic absenteeism can and are facing long-lasting mental health issues, as they are deprived of social interaction that’s essential to developing social skills and connecting with peers, and they are also deprived of the normalcy and routine that promotes emotional regulation and ultimately allows for optimal learning. We often see these emotionally dysregulated children “acting out,” or demonstrating behavioral challenges.

Emotional Intelligence Can Help

Here at Housman Institute, we are dedicated to teaching children the building blocks of emotional intelligence, which takes them out of these human stress response states and guides them through how to manage big — and small — emotions. Ultimately, improving emotional and mental wellbeing, both short- and long-term.

Children experiencing chronic absenteeism can and are facing long-lasting mental health issues

Managing emotions, regulating behavior, and developing empathy leads to happier, more fulfilling lives and paves the way for learning. The prefrontal cortex is the brain’s powerhouse for executive functions, such as attention, memory, and decision-making. When overwhelmed with emotions, the prefrontal cortex is hijacked and learning cannot occur.

As we can see, emotional intelligence is education for character and moral development and goes hand-in-hand with learning. So as children, teachers and parents struggle in dealing with children’s learning loss, as well as emotional, social and behavioral issues, we must understand that when a child’s emotions are not being managed appropriately, there can be no learning. So let’s all support our children through these difficult times by serving as their guides and models in their developing emotionally intelligent lives.



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