Disadaptation in psychology. What does it mean for children and teenagers: social, school, mental. Causes

Social maladaptation is a complete or partial loss of the subject’s ability to adapt to the conditions of society. That is, this is a violation of a person’s relationship with the environment, which is characterized by the impossibility of his positive social role in certain social conditions corresponding to his potential.

Social maladjustment is characterized by several levels that reflect its depth: latent manifestation of maladjustment phenomena, maladaptive “perturbations,” destruction of previously formed adaptive mechanisms and connections, entrenched maladjustment.

School maladaptation - what is it, concept

School maladjustment is a disruption in the functioning of the child’s adaptation mechanisms to the educational process, which affects his productivity and relationships with others. It can be triggered by various factors, which most often come together:

  • heredity;
  • individual characteristics and neoplasms;
  • relationships with family or individuals;
  • problems in establishing social contacts, etc.

Schoolchildren who are at risk of school maladaptation experience difficulties in adaptation, have problems with mastering educational material and academic performance. Their relationships with peers and adults are difficult. And personal development proceeds sluggishly: these are often infantile children, they like to lie, they easily fall under the influence of others, and they are poorly aware of their “I”.

Psychogenic school maladaptation is a phenomenon that can begin to develop at any time during education. It occurs especially often during the transition from kindergarten to school, and then during the transition from primary to secondary school. Often, any personality conflicts of the child provoke the occurrence of a violation. Therefore, the problem of social and school maladaptation has long remained relevant in pedagogy and psychology.

Features of the flow

Age characteristics

Primary School

On the one hand, maladjustment of children of primary school age affects more than 80% of students. This is a large percentage for which several parties are to blame: parents, kindergarten teachers and elementary school teachers. Each of them must psychologically and physically prepare the child for such a serious transition.

On the other hand, at this age the condition is quickly corrected. As practice shows, thanks to the efforts of teachers, psychologists and those same parents, by the end of 1st grade it is diagnosed in only 20% of students (average indicators).

Causes of socio-psychological maladjustment in younger schoolchildren:

  • insufficient or problematic intellectual and psychomotor development;
  • the inability to control one’s own behavior as a result of the no-holds-barred upbringing that is now in vogue;
  • physical weakness, pain, asthenic type of nervous system;
  • excessive impressionability;
  • hyperexcitability;
  • lack of interest in studying when the leading activity remains playing;
  • inadequate self-esteem.

high school

When moving from 4th to 5th grade, some children may also adapt poorly due to the fact that one teacher is replaced by several at once, and attention to him weakens, and the demands become greater. However, teachers and psychologists immediately identify these (there are only 5-10%) at the initial stage of the formation of a disorder and carry out appropriate work.

High school

From 8th to 11th grade, the number of difficult teenagers who are diagnosed with school maladaptation sharply increases due to a change in orientation (friends and self-affirmation among them come first) and puberty. The difficulties of correction are associated precisely with the last factor, since teenagers cannot control their own bodies. Changes in hormonal levels provoke mood swings, rebellious behavior, nervousness, etc. At the end of puberty, everything falls into place.

Gender characteristics

Maladaptation is more often diagnosed in boys than in girls for a number of reasons:

  • biological factor - the vulnerability of the central nervous system to the development of mental disorders is higher in boys;
  • gender-role factor - in education, boys are under more pressure (they must help, protect, support, give in; they must not cry, be weak, etc.);
  • quantitative factor - there are more girls in the class than boys, and they support each other.

Physiological features

According to the new educational standard, from 2021, parents can bring children with disabilities to regular schools, who previously had the right to study only in specialized educational institutions. Over the two years of the existence of this Law, psychologists and teachers have been trying to convey to the public that such a decision is untenable precisely because of the widespread maladjustment of children with disabilities at school.

In specialized educational institutions they were given sufficient attention so that they got used to the new conditions of their existence outside the home and compliance with norms and rules. The rhythm of life in a regular school does not allow this. The result is that both the mental and physical condition of a disabled child worsens.

Approaches to solving the problem

Currently, teachers together with psychologists have developed three approaches to the concept of school and social maladjustment and resolution of this problem:

  1. School maladjustment is defined as a mental personality disorder, which can only be overcome through psychiatric treatment.
  2. School maladjustment is considered as a pedagogical phenomenon, where the main factor in its occurrence is the relationship with teachers (their style of teaching and education, manner of communication). In this case, it is they who must correct the violation.
  3. A broader approach, which is considered as a socio-psychological process of the formation and development of conflict between the child and school requirements. In this case, the solution is an integrated approach to solving the problem.

The third option looks the most optimal and comprehensive in its logic and validity. But, despite this, experts still have disputes, because the vastness of the problem does not allow finding universal ways to solve it.

General information

This term has taken root in people's lives. It may seem surprising to some that with the development of innovative technologies, many people feel loneliness and become unadapted to the conditions of the surrounding reality. Some individuals are not able to navigate even in ordinary situations and do not know how to behave in this or that case.

The concept of social maladaptation, as a rule, is considered to be the partial or complete inability of an individual to the surrounding reality and its conditions. A person who suffers from maladjustment is unable to interact normally with other individuals. Such a person will either regularly avoid contact or exhibit aggressive behavior. This condition is characterized by increased irritability and inability to accept someone else's point of view.

Such maladaptation appears when an individual stops noticing what is happening in the real world, completely disappears in his reality, replacing relationships with living people. In this case, there is a loss of personal growth.

There are two types of diabetes.

  1. Partial maladjustment. There is a dropout from public life. A typical example is how a person goes to work for the first time after a long illness. During this period, he had no communication with colleagues, but friends and relatives were present.
  2. Complete disadaptation. There is a loss of faith in one’s own strengths, and a lack of trust in people develops. The person does not know how to behave and does not represent the norms of society. It seems that something is not happening as it should.

Both types can be present in people who have addictions. Deviant behavior always goes along with maladaptation to varying degrees of manifestation.

There are five levels of development of diabetes.

  1. Zero stage. There are no personal deformations, values ​​are not changed. Only minor forms of behavioral changes, rough treatment, and disobedience appear. Solution to the problem: social education, instilling in a person the beliefs of social norms, information.
  2. Negative social attitudes. Personal deformation is still absent, however, strong dependence on others appears. A person may start experimenting with smoking and alcohol. Prevention technology includes warning of career guidance in relation to the child’s immediate environment and himself.
  3. Systematic. There are manifestations of delinquent behavior, theft, hooliganism, and fights. It is chronic in nature, and the beginnings of personality disadaptation appear. The beginnings begin in violations of the motivational-need sphere of a person; he has fewer interests and goals in life. In such a situation, social correction is necessary to correct the behavior.
  4. Addiction, dependence. An individual's behavior poses a danger to other people. Rehabilitation is required, the main thing is that the person himself wants to change.
  5. Resistance. The individual opposes all norms and tries to change the world. Personal deformation is already irreversible. A person has a formed opposite value system. At this stage, resocialization is necessary, which will be manifested by a change in the attitudes, norms, goals and life values ​​of the individual.

Levels of development of school maladjustment

In the process of development of school maladjustment in a child, 3 different levels can be distinguished and traced.


If a student finds himself in an uncomfortable or conflict situation, he experiences a number of physiological problems, such as:

  • inability to concentrate on one mental or physical operation for a long time;
  • irritability from loud sounds, flashes of light, strong odors;
  • restlessness;
  • sudden mood swings;
  • fast fatiguability;
  • difficulty waking up and falling asleep, etc.

All of these problems are not permanent; they are only caused by a conflict situation. When solved, they disappear and are easily corrected.

Types of school maladjustment

The process of development of school maladaptation is individual for each child, so its type in its pure form is almost impossible to determine. Almost always, varieties can be combined and create a whole complex of deviations. The most common types are:

  1. Social. Includes denial of socially accepted attitudes, antisocial behavior, and student self-regulation problems.
  2. Psychosocial. Characterized by psychological characteristics of the individual (including gender and age). The less attention and individual approach is given to the child, the more clearly this type of maladjustment manifests itself.
  3. Pathogenic. It manifests itself through disturbances in the functioning of the brain, mental disorders, and sometimes phobias that the student has.
  4. Intelligent. It often manifests itself not in elementary school, but in older children. Caused by missed and unrecovered knowledge gaps that impact learning.
  5. Emotional. It is identified through an increased level of anxiety, a feeling of fear for academic performance. This type occurs in children with high motivation but low self-esteem.


There is no single approach to the issue of classification in psychology. For example, Kogan in his works distinguishes between psychogenic, neurotic, psychopathic, organic (depending on the reasons for development) forms. However, a detailed description of all these types is not available.

Most often in the literature and in practice, the classification of S. A. Belicheva is used. According to her, school maladaptation occurs:

  • pathogenic: the result of phobias and disorders of the central nervous system, brain, analyzers;
  • psychosocial: a consequence of puberty, bright accentuations of character, unhealthy manifestations of emotions, insufficient mental development;
  • social: formed due to the lack of basic education, value orientations, antisocial behavior, and deformation of social attitudes.

This classification is also based on an assessment of the causes leading to the development of behavioral disorders. Each of these types is characterized by different manifestations.

Causes of school maladjustment

The opinions of psychologists about the possible causes of school maladjustment vary. Some believe that the only problem of school maladaptation is didactogenic disorders: the contradiction between the requirements of the educational environment and the individual psychophysical characteristics of the child. Others are inclined to believe that there are a number of prerequisites for school maladaptation that lead to the occurrence of this phenomenon.

The reasons for school maladaptation of younger schoolchildren include:

  • insufficient preparedness for school: lack of basic understanding of the world, the level of development of psychomotor skills is below average, which makes it difficult for a student to keep up with classmates;
  • low level of development of cognitive processes and some mental functions (too low or, conversely, too high self-esteem, distracted attention, poor memory);
  • behavioral problems: the student cannot sit through an entire lesson without getting distracted or getting up;
  • parental influence: overprotection, fear of mistakes and failures, insufficient attention to the child, unfavorable conditions and atmosphere in the family;
  • influence from the teacher: authoritarianism, excessive demands, lack of an individual approach to each child or division into favorites and others;
  • social aspect: relationships with peers do not work out, they are not recognized in the class;
  • any psychological disorders and disorders (including hereditary ones);
  • inability to adapt to the curriculum (high pace, complexity, specific features).

Socio-psychological maladjustment

Adaptation literally means adaptation. This is one of the most significant concepts in biology. Widely used in concepts that treat the relationship of individuals with their environment as processes of homeostatic balancing. It is considered from the point of view of its two directions: adaptation of the individual to the new external environment and adaptation as the formation of new personality qualities on this basis.

There are two degrees of subject adaptation: disadaptation or deep adaptation.

Socio-psychological adaptation consists in the interaction of the social environment and the individual, leading to an ideal balance between the values ​​and goals of the group in general and the individual in particular. In the course of such adaptation, the needs and aspirations, interests of the individual are realized, his individuality is discovered and formed, the individual enters a socially new environment. The result of such adaptation is the formation of professional and social qualities of communications, activities and behavioral reactions accepted in a particular society.

If we consider the adaptive processes of a subject from the perspective of the socio-psychological process of inclusion in activity, then the main points of activity should be the fixation of interest in it, establishing contacts with individuals who surround, satisfaction with such relationships, inclusion in social life.

The concept of social maladaptation of a person means a breakdown in the processes of interaction between a subject and the environment, which are aimed at maintaining a balance within the body, between the body and the environment. This term appeared relatively recently in psychology and psychiatry. The use of the concept of “maladaptation” is quite contradictory and ambiguous, which can be traced mainly in assessing the place and role of maladaptive states in relation to such categories as “norm” or “pathology”, since the parameters of “norm” and “pathology” in psychology are still little developed.

Social maladaptation of an individual is a rather versatile phenomenon, which is based on certain factors of social maladjustment that complicate the social adaptation of an individual.

Factors of social maladjustment:

  • relative cultural and social deprivation (deprivation of necessary goods or vital needs);
  • psychological and pedagogical neglect;
  • hyperstimulation with new (in content) social incentives;
  • insufficient preparedness for self-regulation processes;
  • loss of already formed forms of mentoring;
  • loss of the usual team;
  • low degree of psychological readiness to master the profession;
  • breaking dynamic stereotypes;
  • cognitive dissonance, which was caused due to a discrepancy between judgments about life and the situation in reality;
  • character accentuations;
  • psychopathic personality formation.

Thus, speaking about the problems of socio-psychological maladjustment, we mean a change in the internal and external circumstances of socialization. Those. social maladaptation of a person is a relatively short-term situational state, which is a consequence of the influence of new, unusual irritating factors of the changed environment and signals an imbalance between the demands of the environment and mental activity. It can be defined as a difficulty complicated by any adaptive factors to transforming conditions, which is expressed in inadequate reactions and behavior of the subject. It is the most important process of socialization of an individual.

Types of manifestation of school maladjustment

There are 5 types of manifestation of school maladaptation, which differ in the reasons that caused the violation.


This type of maladaptation is expressed in the student’s failure to perform according to the school curriculum, which corresponds to age characteristics. It can be either chronic in all subjects or fragmentary (from time to time). It is difficult for a child to keep up with the pace of the whole class: he is late for lessons, gets tired quickly and takes a long time to complete assignments.


This type of maladjustment is associated with an emotional and personal attitude towards the entire learning process or to individual subjects. The student violently expresses his emotions, which are caused by a feeling of fear and anxiety in relation to lessons, teachers, and school locations.


The behavioral type of maladaptation is characterized by the child’s inability to control his own behavior and weak self-regulation. He violates social norms of behavior at school: he is aggressive, enters into conflicts with others, and does not want to make any contact. There is no motivation to study and engage in other activities.


Another type of school maladjustment, which is associated with various deviations and problems with the physical development and health of the student. Fatigue, diseases of internal organs and weak immunity negatively affect a child’s academic performance and communication.


This type of maladjustment occurs due to difficulties in communicating and establishing contacts with peers and teachers. A student may be shy, not be able to carry on a conversation, or not know how to ask for help. All this ends in failures, which make him withdraw into himself even more.


The following components of the psychological state are distinguished.



  • failure to complete homework;
  • lack of activity in class;
  • refusal to go to the board;
  • handing in a blank notebook for tests;
  • low mental abilities;
  • lack of knowledge, skills, abilities;
  • poor performance in most subjects (the main feature of the component).

The cognitive component of maladaptation at school leads to the fact that the child is sent to a psychological and pedagogical commission, where they decide to retain him for repeated education.



  • reluctance to think about life prospects (if I don’t study, I won’t pass exams, won’t get a certificate, won’t go anywhere, won’t make it in life, etc.);
  • treating school as a meeting place with friends, but not as an educational institution;
  • lack of life principles, guidelines, moral values, motivation (leading feature);
  • problematic social circle.

With the professional approach of a teacher-psychologist, the emotional-personal component can be successfully corrected even in adolescence.



  • antisocial behavior (main symptom);
  • refusal reactions;
  • anti-discipline;
  • ignoring school rules;
  • rudeness, name-calling;
  • contrasting oneself with others.

Behavioral strategies of maladjusted schoolchildren can be different:

  • passive-indifferent attitude to the learning process: does not respond to the demands and comments of elders, is characterized by indifference and unhealthy calmness (not giving a damn, as teenagers say);
  • negative protest behavior: he is insolent and rude to adults and other children only if he is offended (asked to go to the board, made a remark, pushed, etc.);
  • demonstrative protest behavior: he himself goes into conflict, trying to attract everyone's attention.

The behavioral component has a persistent, repetitive nature and is difficult to correct.

Diagnosis of school maladjustment

Only a teacher can diagnose school maladaptation at the initial level. To do this, you need to evaluate the lessons as a whole, note which of the children have periodic difficulties in mastering the material, the pace of work, and doing homework.

A teacher may notice the following signs of maladjustment in a child:

  • rapid exhaustion in class and decreased performance (the child spins around a lot, cannot sit at his desk for a long time, yawns, plays with school supplies, cannot repeat what was just discussed in class);
  • increased fatigue (appearance: bright red cheeks, blueness above the upper lip, refusal to play and communicate with classmates, lack of initiative in lessons, aggression towards peers, walking on tiptoes);
  • errors in written work (done out of order, many erasures and corrections, rules for keeping notebooks not followed, homework not submitted on time, letters missing in words);
  • increased anxiety with good academic performance (afraid of answering at the board, doubts one’s abilities, reacts to comments with tears or aggression, fidgets with clothes when answering, makes a lot of hand movements, often blinks or licks lips).

If at least one of the signs often begins to appear, then the teacher is obliged to talk with the parents and involve a school psychologist.

Further examination is as follows:

  1. The psychologist carries out the necessary diagnostic techniques.
  2. Collects and analyzes the received data, criteria for school maladaptation, and, if necessary, talks with the child again.
  3. A student is being examined by a doctor.
  4. The psychologist talks with the teacher, correlating all the results with observations.
  5. The teacher and psychologist convey all the information to parents.


School maladjustment primarily affects a child’s stay within the walls of an educational institution and can manifest itself in the following areas:

  • spatio-temporal, when a student cannot, due to various circumstances, adhere to the daily routine - he is constantly late, does not know his way around the classrooms;
  • personal and semantic, if he cannot establish contact with peers, teachers, and other school employees;
  • educational and cognitive, which is manifested in his poor performance.

Psychologists call the following typical signs:

  • neuroses, hysterics, irritability, mood swings;
  • pressure surges, frequent nosebleeds, dizziness;
  • chronic fatigue;
  • fears (fear of the teacher, tests, answering at the board, etc.);
  • academic failure;
  • inadequate self-esteem;
  • increased level of anxiety, panic attacks;
  • tendency to rudeness and rudeness, lack of manners, defiant behavior;
  • indiscipline: constant tardiness, violation of school regulations and teacher requirements, absenteeism;
  • conflict;
  • difficult to educate.

Often, disoriented children exhibit the same stereotype of behavior: they go to school in the morning (that’s what their parents are told), and they themselves go for a walk around the city or sit out in some secluded place. When classes are over (they keep track of time), they go home, pretend that everything is fine and even pretend to do their homework. Such cases, as practice shows, are far from uncommon.

Correction of maladjustment in school-age children

There is no unified method for correcting school maladaptation in school-age children. An individual approach must be taken to each child, because... The factors of school maladaptation and the ways of its correction vary greatly. The child needs qualified help that will simultaneously consider medical, psychological, pedagogical and social aspects.

The main emphasis is on psychological assistance, so a large part of the work is performed by the school psychologist (if necessary, this can be a private psychologist or psychotherapist). He explores in detail the main points associated with the life of a student:

  • studies the child’s social environment and the conditions of his development;
  • assesses the psychophysical development of the student, takes into account individual characteristics;
  • determines the nature of the internal conflict that led to the violation;
  • identifies factors that lead to a crisis situation and the appearance of signs of maladjustment;
  • draws up an individual plan for psychological and pedagogical correction and brings it to the attention of teachers and parents.

A psychologist practices many methods of correction, most often these can be:

  • conversations;
  • art therapy;
  • group training;
  • associative techniques;
  • gaming activities aimed at uniting the class team;
  • exercises to develop mental processes when necessary.

Teachers are also actively involved in corrective measures for a particular child. They create positive conditions for the student’s adaptation: a comfortable and friendly atmosphere in the classroom, a friendly climate in the classroom, and special attention to the child.

Parents should be involved in the child's life to increase the chance of positive dynamics in the development of the disorder. Without their support, the result may be minimal. The family must build a trusting relationship with the child, encourage and help him in all endeavors, and be sure to praise him. All comments should be kept to a minimum or spoken calmly and accurately. Family members should spend time together and engage in some common activity.

Adjustment methods

Art therapy

If a child has any difficulties at school, it is necessary to immediately take some action to eliminate the problems that have arisen. It is important to establish contact with the baby himself. It is necessary that parents create a trusting relationship with their son or daughter, otherwise they will not be able to understand the problem that the child has developed, and they will also not be able to cope with it.

  1. Conversation. If you want your baby to trust you, then you need to talk to him as often as possible and not ignore him when he tries to speak. Remember that any person needs live communication. And if your baby is quite shy, then he can’t do without it, he needs to feel significant in this life. When communicating with a child, you should not immediately ask questions about what is bothering him; first, talk about something else, unimportant. Over time, the baby himself will feel that you can be trusted, he will reveal himself, and talk about painful things. There is no need to rush him or prematurely assess what is happening.
  2. Art therapy. Parents can invite their child to draw on paper what is bothering him now. In this situation, the child will depict school or his class. It is important not to disturb him while doing this, let him draw whatever he wants, do not distract him until the drawing is completely finished. This is very important, because this is a way to relieve your baby of increased anxiety.
  3. We teach the child to communicate with peers. This advice is suitable if the baby has difficulties with this. It is possible that the child is simply shy, it is difficult for him to talk to other children, or maybe he is not interested in being around his classmates. You need to understand that it is very important for a student to be within the team, and not outside its boundaries. Understand that maladjustment undermines self-confidence and deprives you of strength. It is extremely important for a child to feel part of the school community. Understand that if he is bullied in class, then this is a serious test for his fragile psyche. In such a situation, it is very important to increase self-esteem and work on his fears.
  4. Problematic item. A situation if all the reasons for maladaptation lie in a subject that the child is not given. In this case, it is necessary to find a tutor who could help the child learn this lesson. The child should feel that difficulties can be overcome with some effort. In this situation, it is unacceptable to blame the child for not studying well, for neglecting the material, and you cannot leave him alone with this problem. You must understand that such actions will discourage the desire to learn in principle.

When communicating with a child, a psychologist will pay attention to the following points.

  1. He will find out what the student’s social environment is like, what conditions of his development are present, and collect a complete history of all the issues that concern him. Psychophysical development will be assessed, the individual characteristics of the child will be taken into account, and special tests will be carried out that correspond to the student’s age.
  2. An internal conflict will be identified, which leads to the development of crisis situations.
  3. The specialist will understand the factors that influence the occurrence of manifestations of maladjustment.
  4. A special correction program will be drawn up, which will be focused on the individual characteristics of a particular child.

Prevention of school maladjustment

Methods for preventing school maladjustment should also be a set of measures. Today it consists of the following measures:

  • compensating classes;
  • special methods of correctional training;
  • social trainings;
  • trainings together with parents and students;
  • special consultations for parents.

The main focus of prevention should be on successful adaptation to the school environment. After all, for every schoolchild this is a big stressful process. Both parents and teachers must work together to help the child pass it. The result should be his positive attitude towards life, towards the educational process, towards teachers and classmates. Then the lessons will be positive, with a creative approach, learning activities will bring joy and satisfaction, and school will no longer be a problem.

The process of adaptation to school will be much easier if a trusting and friendly relationship is established between the child and parents. In this case, any life difficulties will be overcome more successfully, and forms of school maladjustment will not appear.

Symptoms of desocialization

Social maladaptation manifests itself in a person’s inability to fully adapt to the conditions around him. There are complete and partial social maladjustment. With partial maladaptation, a person stops contacting or coming into contact with certain areas of life: does not go to work, does not attend events, refuses to communicate with friends. When it is complete, disturbances occur in all areas of life, a person withdraws into himself, stops communicating even with those closest to him and gradually loses touch with the reality around him.

Signs of social maladjustment:

  • Aggression is one of the most characteristic signs. Maladjusted children become aggressive because they simply do not understand how to behave and take a defensive position in advance. Adolescents and adults also use verbal and nonverbal aggression, manipulation, and lies to achieve goals as quickly as possible. In this state, they make no attempts to establish interaction with others and do not try to understand what norms and rules exist in this society.
  • Closedness is another characteristic feature. A person stops communicating with others, he completely withdraws into himself, hides from people, and prevents attempts to start a relationship with him.
  • Social phobia – fear of communication, large numbers of people, the need to talk to someone, and so on gradually develops. It becomes more and more difficult for a person to do something beyond the scope of his daily affairs; he begins to be afraid to visit an unfamiliar place, go somewhere, start a conversation with a stranger, or even leave the house.
  • Deviant behavior - lack of social contacts leads to ignoring the norms and rules existing in society. This often results in deviant or antisocial behavior.
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