Common Issues with Elementary School Children

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  • 0:01 Counseling Elementary Students
  • 1:09 Common Issues
  • 5:23 Lesson Review
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jade Mazarin

Jade is a board certified Christian counselor with an MA in Marriage and Family Therapy, and a certification in Natural Health. She is also a freelance writer on emotional health and spirituality.

While childhood is meant to be a happy time, there are many children for whom it is a time of emotional difficulty. This lesson looks into some challenges that are common to elementary-aged children.

Counseling Elementary Students

I have to say that as a counselor, I often wish that certain adult clients had therapy when they were children. Many of them came from difficult family environments and continue to exhibit symptoms from that time.

Things like low self-esteem, an inability to communicate or a misconception of a healthy marriage actually started for many people when they were five, seven and nine years of age. This is why elementary school counselors have a special opportunity. They can observe and reach children at a time when many of their issues are just beginning and at a time when genuine support and guidance can end up making all the difference.

While kids often feel they are the only ones suffering with a particular situation, they are never alone. There is a vast number who are going through the same kinds of struggles and need the same kinds of intervention for a healthier future. These issues include but are not limited to parental abuse, bullying, poor social skills, rejection, learning disabilities and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Common Issues

We are now going to meet a group of elementary students who are each struggling with one of these issues. Meet Judy, Matt, Janet, Elaine, Brian and Rachel. We are going to take a look into each one of their lives.

Parental Abuse

Judy is six years old and living in a home where her father yells at her mother frequently. He gets angry easily and will occasionally hit her mother in front of Judy. Sometimes, if she tries to play with him, Judy's father will tell her that she is annoying and push her away.

Judy is suffering from parental abuse. Parental abuse occurs when parents deliberately inflict harm on their children. There are two types of abuse that Judy's father uses: physical abuse, or the use of physical violence, and emotional or mental abuse, where he inflicts emotional pain through attacking her with words and when he hurts her mother in front of her.

Her mother is also depressed, spending a lot of time sleeping in her bedroom and is unavailable for her daughter. As a result, Judy is also experiencing another type of abuse called neglect, or the absence of parental care. Judy needs help to voice her feelings and learn ways to feel better.


Matt's parents have been wondering why he seems so reluctant to go to school. The truth is that 8-year-old Matt has been bullied for the past several months by another boy who shoves him, calls him names and laughs at him. The only times this boy leaves him alone is when Matt gives him his snack for the day. This bullying, or repeated aggression and intimidation of a peer, has caused Matt to feel anxious, unable to concentrate at school and very insecure. He needs greater confidence and the tools to deal with the situation.

Poor Social Skills

Janet is a 9-year-old girl who has been given everything she wants by her parents. She is so accustomed to getting anything she asks for that if they try to say no, she becomes angry and tearful. Consequently, she is pretty bossy with her peers. If she has a friend over, she tells her to bring her cookies from the kitchen or to play a certain character in a pretend play skit.

Janet has poor social skills, which means she interacts with her peers in unhealthy ways. She needs to learn how to consider other people's feelings and be polite and friendly or she will have a tough time keeping friends.


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