Borderline Personality Disorder in Children: Spotting Early Symptoms of BPD

Borderline personality disorder is a mental health condition that can affect everyone. Unfortunately, these symptoms are quite hard to define in the early childhood and teenage years.

That’s why it’s important to recognize the symptoms of borderline personality disorder in children in the early stages. Let’s dig deeper into this article to learn more about it.

Learn in This Article

  • Can a Child Have Borderline Personality Disorder
  • Why Do Children Develop EBPD
  • Signs of BPD in Childhood
  • Emerging Borderline Personality Disorder Diagnosis
  • How to Help People with EBPD
    • Therapy
    • Crisis Plan
    • Healthy Coping Mechanisms
    • Calming and Distracting Activities

Can a Child Have Borderline Personality Disorder

When thinking about BPD, a pattern of unstable relationships, moods, and behavior usually comes to mind. While this mental health condition is often diagnosed in adulthood, the onset of borderline personality disorder can be before 18.

Professionals often refer to this rare disorder as emerging BPD. In this case, BPD is specifically studied and diagnosed in children and teenagers.

Why Do Children Develop EBPD

Despite the extensive research on the topic, the exact cause of emerging BPD remains unknown.

Like many other personality disorders, EBPD is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. That’s why identifying early signs of BPD and providing early intervention is especially important.

Signs of BPD in Childhood

If you’re unsure about which signs of borderline personality disorder you should look out for in children, here’s what you need to know.

  • Experiencing extreme mood swings
  • Feeling out of control or overwhelmed
  • Feeling overly sensitive to criticism and rejection
  • Unstable sense of self
  • Self-harming and suicidal tendencies
  • Intense outbursts of anger
  • Efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment
  • Chronic feelings of emptiness
  • Impulsive and reckless behaviors

Emerging Borderline Personality Disorder Diagnosis

Diagnosing emerging borderline personality disorder is not easy. Many mental health professionals find it difficult to diagnose EBPD because of the complex emotions associated with the disorder.

Furthermore, other conditions, such as anxiety, post-traumatic stress, and eating disorders, can show up in a child with BPD.

How to Help People with EBPD


Going to therapy is an important step in treating BPD. Dialectical behavioral therapy, or DBT, is a type of therapy that focuses on helping people with BPD manage their emotions and improve their relationships. Other types of therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), can also be helpful.

Crisis Plan

If you or someone you know has borderline personality disorder, it’s crucial to have a crisis plan in place. This plan should include information on how to get help in an emergency, as well as the names and contact information of people who can provide support. If you’re not sure how to create a crisis plan, there are many resources available online.

Healthy Coping Mechanisms

People with borderline personality disorder often struggle to cope with inappropriate feelings of anger. Especially BPD in teenagers can start off as impulsive behaviors and relationship issues.

However, yoga, meditation, journaling, writing, and other activities can help people with BPD manage their emotions.

Calming and Distracting Activities

There are many activities that can help people with BPD calm down and distract themselves from their emotions. These include reading, listening to music, and spending time in nature.

Key Takeaways

  • BPD usually develops during adolescence or young adulthood. However, children can also be diagnosed with this mental health condition.
  • EBPD is the terminology associated with children and teenagers with BPD.
  • Borderline personality traits in children may include extreme mood swings, outbursts of anger, and impulsive behaviors.
  • Going to therapy and engaging in calming activities can help with EBPD.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the youngest age for borderline personality disorder?

Although there’s no exact data available, the DSM-5 claim that BPD can be diagnosed as early as 12 years old if the symptoms persist for at least a year. However, professionals tend to give a diagnosis for borderline personality disorder in the teenage years or adulthood.

How does BPD affect school performance?

People with BPD often have difficulty regulating their emotions, which can lead to problems in many areas of their lives, including school.
During their first years, children with signs of BPD tend to perform very well in school. However, their grades might suffer in the future because they quickly lose interest or become unsure about their performance.

Can you show signs of BPD in childhood?

While early symptoms typically emerge during adolescence or young adulthood, research suggests that some signs of borderline personality disorder may be present in children.
Studies have found that children with BPD tend to have a history of conduct problems, impulsivity, and emotional instability. They may also display signs of anxiety and depression and be more likely to engage in self-harmful behaviors. Additionally, children with BPD may have difficulty forming attachments and be described as moody.