As many parents know, children of all ages can be irritable at times. Yet while some irritability in children is normal, very high levels of irritability (or even very low levels) may put kids at risk for mental illness. While we know that children with behavioral problems are at risk for mental illness later in life, we don’t know why irritability in particular puts kids at risk.
Susan Perlman, Ph.D., a cognitive neuroscientist at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, is researching irritability in young kids (ages 3-6) in order to determine if these children will be “just fine” or if their irritability levels will predict future behavioral and psychological issues. I.e., she wants to know, “why do some irritable kids end up with mental illness, and others just become irritable but normally functioning adults?”