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The CHILD Disorder
by Jan Hunt and Naomi Aldort
After close observation of their own children, with a combined age of 61 years, observations of many other children in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Israel, Greece, Italy, Swiss, France, Holland, Belgium, England, Scotland, and the Bahamas, and numerous reports throughout recorded history, the authors have determined that a widely-distributed behavioral disorder has somehow been overlooked by psychiatrists. They have labeled this disorder "CHILD"1. Just like "ADD", "ADHD", and "Asperger's Syndrome", CHILD is not based on any medical evidence or test whatsoever, but it should nonetheless be a useful diagnosis for mental health professionals, school administrators, and parents.


Stage 1:

  • cries when left alone at night
  • cries when put into car seat
  • cries when being diapered or dressed
  • cries when hurt
  • naps too long (or) does not nap long enough
  • potty-training does not go smoothly
  • poor hand-eye coordination
  • fussy when teething
  • clingy during times of family stress
  • dribbling

Stage 2:

  • tantrums when frustrated
  • incoherent babbling
  • climbs onto dangerous areas
  • enters roads without looking
  • fussy when hungry
  • insists on favorite cup at meals
  • refuses all vegetables
  • clingy following a parent's return from a trip
  • clingy following a move
  • clingy following birth of sibling
  • clumsiness with frequent dropping and spilling
  • continues unwanted behavior even when told to stop
  • punishment doesn't work

Stage 3:

  • sudden unexpected movements
  • irrational fears that don't respond to logic
  • funny noises, sudden shrieks, inappropriate giggling
  • talks to dolls and stuffed animals
  • may have imaginary playmates
  • fidgets when bored; unable to sit still
  • runs and climbs; always on the go
  • insists on wearing favorite clothing
  • does not come promptly when called
  • tells silly jokes
  • embarrasses parents in public
  • interrupts when parent is on the telephone
  • grumpy when tired
  • angry when losing a game
  • dawdles when hurried
  • fights with siblings
  • insists on own way of doing things
  • punishment doesn't work

Stage 4:

  • prefers playing to doing chores
  • stammers when nervous
  • doesn't listen to reason
  • selectively forgetful
  • talks excessively (or) does not talk enough
  • ignores direct questions
  • sudden, energetic behavior
  • self-centered, egocentric behavior
  • walks away when parent lectures
  • sullen when mistrusted
  • forgets to say "please" and "thank you" despite repeated reminders
  • grumpy when ill
  • resists structured teaching; prefers own way of learning
  • punishment doesn't work


The causes of this disorder are not yet clear, but the authors suspect that the primary cause is premature birth, i.e. birth prior to age 20. This is probably inevitable, as a 20-year gestation would be stressful for the human female.


This disorder is not preventable; it appears to be universal among low-age populations. However, there are several approaches that can minimize behavioral difficulties:

  • cosleeping
  • carrying in the first years
  • breastfeeding with child-led weaning
  • eye contact
  • gentle touch and hugs
  • respectful listening
  • undivided attention
  • validation of feelings
  • empathy
  • trust
  • avoidance of punishment
  • natural learning


The prognosis is excellent, as this disorder subsides over time, provided the preventative measures listed above are taken. Drugs are not recommended.

"While intelligent people can often simplify the complex, a fool is more likely to complicate the simple."
 - Dr. Gerald Grumet

For more information on misleading labels, see Dr. Fred Baughman's website and Jan Hunt's article "Learning Disability":A Rose by Another Name.

Convenient, Hyped, Imaginary Low-age Disorder

 French translation

Jan Hunt, M.Sc., offers telephone counseling worldwide, with a focus on parenting, unschooling, and personal matters. She is the Director of The Natural Child Project and author of The Natural Child: Parenting from the Heart and A Gift for Baby.
More articles by Jan Hunt is supported by:
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Children reflect the treatment they receive.

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