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How to help your child with behavior problems

How to help your child with behavior problems

As a parent, we all have that child who doesn’t just listen!. Helping your child with behavior problems is one of the fundamental principles of parenting. However, this does not make your child bad. As adults, we have problems we struggle with. The same way children have problems but do not understand the right way to react.

So what causes behavioral problems in children? This can range from small issues to big ones, like frustration, boredom, anger, constant change of environment or schools, siblings rivalry, the divorce of parents, death of a family member or a friend, and a lot of other issues.

So how can you help your child with behavior issues?

  1. Talk to your child; Arguably, One of the most effective ways to help your child with behavior problems is to talk to him. Let the child understand that you care and willing to listen to him. Assure him of your love and support. If it’s possible, you can explain things better to the child( i.e after you’ve figured out the cause of the behavior)

2: Be consistent with your child; one way to help your child with behavior problems is to be consistent with your child. Let your child know what to expect. Although this depends on the age of the child, it will help the child know what makes you angry and what doesn’t.

3: Do not overreact; When your child starts to throw a tantrum and misbehave. Do not shout, yell, or scream. Do not overreact. Instead, let the child be done and talk it out with him.

4: Set disciplinary rules; This is one good way to help your child with behavior problems if done right. Settings rules about behavior will help to keep the child alert. E.g, the next time you throw a tantrum, you’ll have to sit upstairs alone for 10 minutes.

5: Speak positive words around your child; Note what the child is good at and remind him of that constantly. Speak encouraging and soothing words to your child. This will serve to boost up his or her confidence.

6: Help to develop the child’s abilities; If you want to help your child with behavior problems is to make him concentrate on something else. Introduce the child to many fun activities and encourage him to develop his talents and skills. E.g, playing the piano, basketball game, running, and the likes.

7: Spend time with your child; One of the best ways to help your child with behavior problems is to spend quality time with your child, doing the things you both love. This will help to build the bond between you and help the child to open up.

You do not expect the child to change overnight, remember consistency is the key. Also if the child’s behavior gets worse, i.e becomes extremely Moody and depressed or starts to hurt others or himself, it’s best to take such a child to a specialist.

How to help your child with behavior problems

If you’re a parent, you’ve probably dealt with your fair share of tantrums, meltdowns and freak-outs. Emotional regulation is a skill we all have to learn, and some kids take longer to master self-control than others. But how do you know when your child’s aggressive or violent behavior is not just part of their learning curve, but is getting out of hand? And what can you do to help?

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Do most kids act out like this?

It’s all about knowing what’s developmentally appropriate. “We generally expect toddlers to experience some aggressive behaviors,” says pediatric psychologist Emily Mudd, PhD.

“At this stage, kids tend to resort to physical expressions of their frustration, simply because they don’t yet have the language skills to express themselves. For example, pushing a peer on the playground could be considered typical. We wouldn’t necessarily call that aggression unless it was part of a pattern.”

How do you recognize true aggression?

By the time a child is old enough to have the verbal skills to communicate his or her feelings — around age 7 — physical expressions of aggression should taper off, she says.

If that’s not happening, it’s time to be concerned, especially if your child is putting himself or others in danger, or is regularly damaging property.

Watch for warning signs that your child’s behavior is having a negative impact:

  • Struggling academically.
  • Having difficulty relating to peers.
  • Frequently causing disruptions at home.

“These warning signs are cause for concern and should not be ignored,” she says.

Your child’s behavior may have an underlying cause that needs attention. ADHD, anxiety, undiagnosed learning disabilities and autism can all create problems with aggressive behavior.

“Whatever the cause, if aggressive behavior impacts your child’s day-to-day functioning, it’s time to seek help,” Dr. Mudd says.

Start by talking with your pediatrician. If necessary, he or she can refer you to a mental health professional to diagnose and treat problems that may cause aggression.

What can parents do to help their child?

Dr. Mudd recommends these strategies for helping your child tame his or her aggression:

  1. Stay calm. “When a child is expressing a lot of emotion, and the parents meet that with more emotion, it can increase the child’s aggression,” she says. Instead, try to model emotional regulation for your child.
  2. Don’t give in to tantrums or aggressive behavior. For example, if your child is having a tantrum at the grocery store because she wants a particular cereal, don’t give in and buy it. This is rewarding, and reinforces the inappropriate behavior.
  3. Catch your child being good. Reward good behavior, even when your child isn’t doing anything out of the ordinary. If dinnertime is problem-free, say, “I really like how you acted at dinner.” Treats and prizes aren’t necessary. Recognition and praise are powerful all on their own.
  4. Help kids learn to express themselves by naming emotions. For example, you may say “I can tell you’re really angry right now.” This validates what your child is feeling and encourages verbal, instead of physical, expression.
  5. Know your child’s patterns and identify triggers. Do tantrums happen every morning before school? Work on structuring your morning routine. Break down tasks into simple steps, and give time warnings, such as “We’re leaving in 10 minutes.” Set goals, such as making it to school on time four days out of five. Then reward your child when he or she meets those goals.
  6. Find appropriate rewards. Don’t focus on financial or material goals. Instead, try rewards like half an hour of special time with mom or dad, choosing what the family eats for dinner, or selecting what the family watches for movie night.

If your child is struggling with self-control, incorporating these strategies into your parenting should help you rein in those behaviors.

If the situation seems unmanageable, remember that you’re not the only one struggling with your child’s behavior. Pediatric psychologists are adept at helping children and families solve emotional and behavioral problems. Ask your pediatrician for the names of mental health professionals in your area.

How to help your child with behavior problems

The Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology has published a study reviewing the research on treatments for disruptive behavior problems in children aged 12 years and under. This report also updates the evidence for what works best to treat children with disruptive behavior problems. In this study, CDC researchers looked at different approaches to treatment and found the best evidence was for parent behavior therapy, when delivered either as group therapy or individually with child participation.

Disruptive behavior disorders, such as oppositional defiant disorder and conduct disorder, put children at risk for long-term problems including mental disorders, violence, and delinquency. Getting the right treatment early is key, so this new evidence is important for health professionals caring for a child with a disruptive behavior problem. Healthcare professionals can use the information on what therapy works best in order to help parents of children with disruptive behavior problems find the right treatment. Read the article. external icon

About this Study

The authors of the study reviewed every available research report from 1998 until 2016 that looked at treatment for disruptive behavior problems in children up to age 12 years. Studies that used similar approaches to treatment were grouped into categories, for example, behavior therapy, which focuses on changing behavior by building skills and learning to manage behavior, client-centered therapy, which focuses on managing feelings, attitudes, and perceptions of others, or play therapy, which provides a way for children to communicate experiences and feelings through play.

Studies were also separated into group or individual therapy and parent or child therapy. All of the results were reviewed and rated according to different levels of evidence. The highest rating was reserved for studies that had been tested in multiple settings by independent teams of researchers.

Main Findings

Parent behavior therapy has the strongest evidence as an effective treatment for disruptive behavior problems in children.

Treatment approaches with the highest rating for effectiveness are

  • Group parent behavior therapy
  • Individual parent behavior therapy with child participation

Other approaches like client-centered therapy or play therapy did not have enough studies or strong enough evidence of effectiveness to receive a high rating. More studies are needed to determine whether these approaches are effective for treating children’s disruptive behavior problems.

Parent Behavior Therapy

Parent Behavior Therapy is also known as Parent Training in Behavior Therapy, Behavior Management Training for Parents, or Behavioral Parent Training

The research studies used approaches that involved therapists who were trained in specific behavior therapy programs, and that used a training manual and specific steps to work with parents on skills to help them manage their child’s behavior. During this type of parent training in behavior therapy, parents work with a therapist to learn strategies to create structure, reinforce good behavior, provide consistent discipline, and strengthen the relationship with their child through positive communication. It is possible that therapists who use these behavioral approaches, but don’t use a specific program can also be effective. However, more research is needed to understand what the essential components of the programs with best evidence are, and which therapy works best for different families. You can read more about what to look for when seeking behavior therapy.

CDC’s Activities on Children’s Behavioral Health:

CDC has activities focused on improving the lives of children and families affected by disruptive behavior disorders and related conditions, including attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Just as for disruptive behavior, in general, behavior therapy is an effective treatment for ADHD.

Experts recommend that children with ADHD ages 6 and older receive behavior therapy along with medication, and that children under 6 with ADHD receive behavior therapy first, before trying medicine for ADHD. Behavior therapy for young children with ADHD is most effective when it is delivered by parents. Therefore, CDC works to help families get the right care at the right time by raising awareness, increasing treatment options for families and providers, and exploring ways to increase access to behavior therapy.

Children’s Mental Health
Learn more about children’s mental, emotional, and behavioral health and CDC activities.

How to help your child with behavior problems

  • How to help your child at school
  • Where can I get further information?

While children can display a wide range of behavior problems in school, from disruptive talking in the classroom to fighting and name-calling on the playground, the reasons for bad behavior are usually simple. “If a child is acting out a lot in school, my assumption is either that she’s having strong feelings and needs a hand with getting those feelings out, or that something in school is really not working for her,” says Alison Ehara-Brown, a licensed clinical social worker and school consultant in Berkeley, Calif. As a parent, you can do a number of things at home to help your child deal with her feelings. You can also change the situation in school so your child has a better time there.

How to help your child at school

Assess the situation. Start by spending time in your child’s classroom (volunteer as an aide for a day or two) to see what’s going on. Or have a child therapist, school psychologist, or learning specialist evaluate your child in the classroom. You could even ask a friend or relative — your child’s favorite uncle, say — to go to her school for a day. Look at the teacher’s teaching style and your child’s learning style: Is a mismatch in the teacher-child relationship causing your child to feel misunderstood or angry? Go out to the playground at recess: Is your child being teased or frightened and then acting out in an attempt to get someone to notice she’s in trouble? You may learn a lot by spending a day in your child’s environment and paying attention to her interactions with the people around her.

Check out your child’s relationship with her teacher. This basic dynamic can make or break a child’s experience in the classroom. “Often when a child is having behavior problems in school, it comes down to a feeling that the teacher doesn’t like her,” says Ehara-Brown. “To be able to learn and to act well, it’s really important to children to feel liked.” Often it’s enough just to bring the problem to the teacher’s attention, but if your child somehow pushes the teacher’s buttons in a way that makes it difficult for the teacher to like her, as a last resort you can look into moving your child to a different classroom. Or see if an adult who likes your child (such as a teacher’s aide) can be added to the classroom; sometimes this is enough to smooth out troublesome behavior.

Work with the teacher. Just having to sit still during class is a big challenge for some children. The teacher may be open to letting your child move around or do other activities if you talk to him about it. “When one of my sons was making the transition from kindergarten, where he had a lot of space to move and play while he learned, to the older grades, he had a really hard time with sitting still and not talking,” says Ehara-Brown. “One of his teachers told him that while she was talking or reading it was fine for him to draw, and once he was able to do that, he stopped getting in trouble.”

Strategize. Buff Bradley, a former elementary school teacher who now runs a home daycare center, suggests setting up conferences that include you, your child, and her teacher. Brainstorm together about how to make school go well for your child. You may want to devise a signal your child can give her teacher, such as raising two fingers, when she’s feeling frustrated and restless and is about to start acting out; at these times, the teacher could give her something special to do, such as taking papers to the principal’s office. Or the teacher could think of a signal, such as a tap on your child’s shoulder, to remind her to behave without embarrassing her in front of the class.

Give your child a break. Sometimes the daily grind of going to a place where she is not succeeding can push a child into behavior problems. If you can, try taking a day off from school and work every once in a while to do something with your child that she really enjoys, whether it’s playing a Monopoly marathon, spending the day at the beach, or just hanging out in the backyard listening to the radio. Take advantage of the times when she is home sick to get close and pay special attention to her.

Help your child remember that you care about her. Knowing that she is loved can pull a child out of a downward spiral. “It can sometimes work to give your child a special reminder of you, something she can put in her pocket, like a little note that says ‘I love you and you’re great,'” says Patty Wipfler, a parent trainer and founder of the Parents Leadership Institute in Palo Alto, Calif. Or put a picture in her lunchbox of the two of you hugging.

Tell your child that she can decide where her mind goes. If your child is having a miserable time at school, she can think of you, or of the fun she’s going to have after school, rather than stay trapped in bad feelings. A great example of this idea is in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, where Harry encounters some monsters called dementors who suck all the happiness out of their victims. The antidote that a powerful wizard gives Harry is to think of the best time he ever had; this allows him to gain power over the monsters.

Get outside help. If you think it’s necessary, get recommendations for a good therapist for your child. Interview possible candidates on the phone, and tell them you’re looking for someone who can help your child work through the emotional issues that are making her act out at school. “Tell them you’re not interested in a medication approach,” says Ehara-Brown, “but are looking for someone who can work with your child’s teacher and the school system and give the teacher ideas on how to handle her behavior.”

Where can I get further information?

“Listening to Children,” by Patty Wipfle, $7. A series of six booklets describes how to work with your child to relieve her fears, frustrations, and anger. Topics include “Special Time,” “Playlistening,” “Crying,” “Tantrums and Indignation,” “Healing Children’s Fears,” and “Reaching for Your Angry Child.” Other books and videotapes are also available, as well as classes in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The Wildest Colts Make the Best Horses: The Truth About Ritalin, ADHD, and Other Disruptive Behavior Disorders, by John Breeding; Bright Books, 1996. $16.95.

How to Talk So Kids Can Learn: At Home and in School, by Adele Faber, Elaine Mazlish, et al.; Fireside, 1995. $13.

The National Institute of Relationship Enhancement offers classes in filial therapy, a branch of family therapy that teaches parents how to use play to help their children.

Breeding J. 1996. The Wildest Colts Make the Best Horses: The Truth About Ritalin, ADHD, and Other Disruptive Behavior Disorders. Preston, UK: Bright Books.

Faber, A. et al. 1995. How to Talk So Kids Can Learn: At Home and in School. New York, NY: Fireside.

This post has been updated as of December 2017.

The average classroom is likely to contain one or more students who demand more attention because of behavioral difficulties. In some cases, hormones, challenges with peers, and home-life problems can make even a “good kid” troublesome. And while some teachers are specially trained to handle special needs children who demand more time, some aren’t. That can hurt both the student and the teacher.

So how do we support these kids while also preserving our own energy, stamina, and patience? Let’s break it down.

First, who needs to learn these strategies?

All teachers need to learn how to teach students with behavior problems. No matter if the child is one student in a classroom with a concern or if the classroom is designed for children with these complex behavioral issues, the methods to teaching and avoiding complications or outbursts are sometimes the same. When teachers learn how to avoid situations that can push the button on these children, it is possible to ensure the classroom’s lesson plan is fully explored and all students get equal attention.

Prior to an occurrence

One of the best strategies for teaching in an environment like this is to learn methods that help to prevent the occurrence of behavioral issues. While every student’s needs are different, there are some simple steps teachers can take to help prevent problems as a group.

  • Increase the amount of supervision present during high-risk periods. When misbehavior is likely to occur, such as during group work sessions or at specific times of the day, adding additional supervision can be a helpful step in preventing problems.
  • Make tasks manageable. To avoid driving stress factors that can cause a child to begin to misbehave, ensure that all the tasks you assign can provide the student with small bits of information at one time. By dividing a lesson in chunks, you’re less likely to overwhelm the student.
  • Offer choices whenever possible. Rather than creating a strict classroom routine, provide the students with choices. For example, let students choose which project they work on rather than having to focus on a specific project.
  • Ensure children reach out for help. In some cases, behavior issues occur because the child does not know how he or she can receive help or does not, for some reason, feel that help is available. Reassure children that they can reach out for the help they need. If they feel comfortable coming to you when they’re lost, upset or overwhelmed, they’re not as likely to have an outburst.

Prevention is always the best step, but of course it’s not always possible to stop every occurrence of poor behavior.

Handling in-the-moment concerns

When behavioral problems begin to occur, it’s important for teachers to react in the right way. Here are some strategies:

  • Apologies. Apologies help to repair the social conflicts between two individuals. Ensure that apologies are encouraged by all offending parties.
  • Ignore. In some cases, the teacher ignores the behavior, meaning he or she does not react to it or reinforce or reward it.
  • Reduce privilege access. After defining the privileges that students have, the teacher sets in place a rule system for taking those away. For example, things like having free time or being able to talk with friends are removed when rules are broken.
  • Praise. Praising positive behavior (not just expected behavior) is also a way of managing negative outcomes. When teachers praise students more readily than scold them, the student learns that to get attention he or she must act positively.

Dealing with conflict in the classroom is never easy. But by getting parents involved, putting time aside to understand the cause of the problem, and by engaging children in positive rewards, it may be possible to reduce some of the risk that behavior problems will get in the way of learning—for you and for your students.

There are lots of possible reasons for difficult behaviour in toddlers and young children.

Often it’s just because they’re tired, hungry, overexcited, frustrated or bored.

How to handle difficult behaviour

If problem behaviour is causing you or your child distress, or upsetting the rest of the family, it’s important to deal with it.

Do what feels right

What you do has to be right for your child, yourself and the family. If you do something you do not believe in or that you do not feel is right, it probably will not work. Children notice when you do not mean what you’re saying.

Do not give up

Once you’ve decided to do something, continue to do it. Solutions take time to work. Get support from your partner, a friend, another parent or your health visitor. It’s good to have someone to talk to about what you’re doing.

Be consistent

Children need consistency. If you react to your child’s behaviour in one way one day and a different way the next, it’s confusing for them. It’s also important that everyone close to your child deals with their behaviour in the same way.

Try not to overreact

This can be difficult. When your child does something annoying time after time, your anger and frustration can build up.

It’s impossible not to show your irritation sometimes, but try to stay calm. Move on to other things you can both enjoy or feel good about as soon as possible.

Find other ways to cope with your frustration, like talking to other parents.

Talk to your child

Children do not have to be able to talk to understand. It can help if they understand why you want them to do something. For example, explain why you want them to hold your hand while crossing the road.

Once your child can talk, encourage them to explain why they’re angry or upset. This will help them feel less frustrated.

Be positive about the good things

When a child’s behaviour is difficult, the things they do well can be overlooked. Tell your child when you’re pleased about something they’ve done. You can let your child know when you’re pleased by giving them attention, a hug or a smile.

Offer rewards

You can help your child by rewarding them for good behaviour. For example, praise them or give them their favourite food for tea.

If your child behaves well, tell them how pleased you are. Be specific. Say something like, “Well done for putting your toys back in the box when I asked you to.”

Do not give your child a reward before they’ve done what they were asked to do. That’s a bribe, not a reward.

Avoid smacking

Smacking may stop a child doing what they’re doing at that moment, but it does not have a lasting positive effect.

Children learn by example so, if you hit your child, you’re telling them that hitting is OK. Children who are treated aggressively by their parents are more likely to be aggressive themselves. It’s better to set a good example instead.

Things that can affect your child’s behaviour

  • Life changes – any change in a child’s life can be difficult for them. This could be the birth of a new baby, moving house, a change of childminder, starting playgroup or something much smaller.
  • You’re having a difficult time – children are quick to notice if you’re feeling upset or there are problems in the family. They may behave badly when you feel least able to cope. If you’re having problems do not blame yourself, but do not blame your child either if they react with difficult behaviour.
  • How you’ve handled difficult behaviour before – sometimes your child may react in a particular way because of how you’ve handled a problem in the past. For example, if you’ve given your child sweets to keep them quiet at the shops, they may expect sweets every time you go there.
  • Needing attention – your child might see a tantrum as a way of getting attention, even if it’s bad attention. They may wake up at night because they want a cuddle or some company. Try to give them more attention when they’re behaving well and less when they’re being difficult.

Extra help with difficult behaviour

Do not feel you have to cope alone. If you’re struggling with your child’s behaviour:

  • talk to your health visitor – they will be happy to support you and suggest some new strategies to try
  • visit the Family Lives website for parenting advice and support, or phone their free parents’ helpline on 0808 800 2222
  • download the NSPCC’s guide to positive parenting

Video: how much does my child understand about being naughty? (6 to 30 months)

In this video, a health visitor explains whether your child understands about being naughty.

William B. Svoboda, MD, is a retired pediatric neurologist. He is the founder and former Director of Via Christi Epilepsy Center of Wichita, Kansas.

This series of articles about the effects of epilepsy on children’s lives and personalities, and how parents can help their child achieve a happy, independent life, is based mostly on an interview with Dr. Svoboda that was conducted by Shawna Cutting, a writer for epilepsy.com.

How common are behavior problems in children with epilepsy?
Roughly one in four children with epilepsy has significant behavior problems. Another one in four has emotional difficulties that are less severe but still disturbing. In general, behavior problems are more troublesome in children whose seizures began at an early age. This is especially true for boys, who are more likely to “act out,” but girls also are affected. Their emotional problems may be recognized less often.

What causes disturbed behavior? Is it the epilepsy itself?
You may suspect that your child’s behavior problems are related to the epilepsy itself. It is true that behavior difficulties can be caused or worsened by epilepsy. Several aspects of epilepsy can affect the brain and contribute to behavior problems:

  • underlying brain damage
  • the seizures themselves
  • small electrical discharges between the seizures
  • the effects of seizure medicines

Any of these can impair normal brain functions or may cause chemical imbalances in the brain that lead to psychiatric difficulties. In some cases, small effects accumulate over many years and cause psychiatric problems to emerge in adulthood.

You may see brief periods of abnormal behavior leading up to a seizure, during a seizure, or for a few days following a seizure. A few children swing back and forth between uncontrolled seizures and bad behavior. Even older children who have had seizure surgery may be extra emotional for up to a half year after the operation.

All types of epilepsy can make children prone to behavior problems:

  • Complex partial seizures, especially of early onset—hyperactivity, problems in paying attention or controlling temper
  • Seizures from the left side—anxiety and frustration due to problems in understanding and expressing ideas
  • Seizures from the right side—social difficulties and impulsive behavior from problems in recognizing social signals
  • Seizures from the front of the brain—disorganization, acting without regard to the consequences.

[Editor’s note: Most of the statements in the paragraph above are based on experience rather than research. They are interesting but may not be true of your child.]

Or are behavior problems caused by how people react to the epilepsy?
Epilepsy and seizures themselves probably have had some effect on your child’s behavior. But it is far more likely that most of your child’s behavior problems are related to the way you and others have reacted to the diagnosis of epilepsy. Children experience these reactions more than they experience the seizures.

Like many parents, you first may have felt shocked and overwhelmed by the diagnosis. In the initial stages, parents often are fearful and don’t want to believe it. Next they start to feel guilty or angry. Then they may enter a period in which they desperately search for a doctor who can stop the frightening attacks. If the seizures do not stop, many parents begin to feel depressed and withdraw from active medical care.

It is natural for you to experience many of these feelings, but you should understand that they have affected your parenting and may be reflected in your child’s self-concept. You can help your child most by reaching a stage of acceptance. Then you can work as part of the treatment team to help your child gain seizure control and reach his or her potential.

Of course, your reactions are not the only ones that affect your child. Other people also influence your growing child’s emotional development:

  • teachers, who may not expect as much from your child as from others
  • playmates, who may reject your child because of seizures
  • other family members, who may be jealous of the time you spend with that child

How can parents support and effectively discipline their child?
Treating epilepsy means treating the whole child, not just the seizures. Even if medications or surgery cure the seizures, problems with language, learning, and behavior may remain. We emphasize disciplining the child, not the seizures. Parents will often discipline and parent the epilepsy, not the child. They fear that if they stress the child by scolding too much, the child will have a seizure. Don’t let the seizures change things. If discipline does precipitate seizures, tell the doctor so that can be worked on. Discipline should be pretty much the same whether your child has epilepsy or diabetes or no health problems at all.

Under-disciplining is one reason a lot of kids either end up eternally dependent or go the opposite way and become quite rebellious. If the parents stop their discipline because of the seizures, the child gets the message “I’m special.” The child could even develop non-epileptic seizures later to further control.

Another issue is that parents are prone to see children with epilepsy as having something wrong with them. The parents tend to emphasize the negative: Don’t do this, don’t do that. I ask the parents what they want the child to do instead and suggest that they work on that. The idea of replacing a bad behavior with a good behavior is also very important.

You may need to learn new parenting approaches and behavior modification techniques. One of the most effective approaches is to deal with little problems before they become major difficulties. The doctor and teacher should be alert for the earliest signs of behavior problems. The school especially should look for possible learning difficulties that may trigger frustration behaviors.

Try to put as much effort into developing what your child CAN do as you put into overcoming the limitations that seizures have created. Encourage your child’s doctor and teachers to take the same approach. Instead of seeing your child as a handicapped child with seizures and behavior problems to be overcome, accept the challenge of developing the good qualities of your special child.

February 1, 2016 by FOKP

Parents of toddlers know that tantrums and minor behavioral issues are commonplace, but these issues usually resolve by the time a child reaches school-age. A school-age child who has tantrums, a bad temper or acts out on a regular basis may benefit from a medical evaluation by a provider of Littleton pediatrics. A medical evaluation can help to determine if your child has a health condition or learning disability that is contributing to the problem behaviors.

How to help your child with behavior problems

When to Call Your Child’s Doctor

As a parent, you know what is typical for your child. However, there are some signs that suggest your child’s behavior is not typical for his or her developmental age. A child with tantrums that last for 10 minutes may need to be evaluated by the pediatrician in Littleton, such as from practices like Focus on Kids Pediatrics. Children who seem out of control should also be checked over by the doctor. If your child is school-age, the teacher or school nurse may notice some problem behaviors. Acting aggressively toward other children, hyperactivity, inattentiveness and refusal to cooperate in the classroom setting are all reasons why your child’s educators may suggest a pediatric evaluation.

What Your Doctor Can Do

If your pediatrician has been caring for your child for several years, then the doctor will know if there are any underlying medical conditions that might be causing your child’s behavioral issues. Your doctor may do some testing to check for medical conditions such as low blood sugar or vitamin deficiencies that are known to cause behavioral difficulties. The pediatrician may also do an observational study of your child. While in the office, the doctor may also ask your child about the problem behaviors that he or she is experiencing.

Mental Health Assessments

Children who show dangerous behaviors or who have been violent may benefit from a mental health assessment. Some pediatricians will do this, while others will work with a child psychologist or psychiatrist. If a psychologist is used, the pediatrician will manage the medical aspects of the behavior, such as prescribing medications and monitoring dosage levels. Your pediatrician may do follow-up assessments so that you can monitor your child’s progress together.


Sources:
Talking with Your Child’s Pediatrician about Behavioral Problems & Medication. APA.
Behavior Problems. University of Michigan Health System.

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There are lots of possible reasons for difficult behaviour in toddlers and young children.

Often it’s just because they’re tired, hungry, overexcited, frustrated or bored.

How to handle difficult behaviour

If problem behaviour is causing you or your child distress, or upsetting the rest of the family, it’s important to deal with it.

Do what feels right

What you do has to be right for your child, yourself and the family. If you do something you do not believe in or that you do not feel is right, it probably will not work. Children notice when you do not mean what you’re saying.

Do not give up

Once you’ve decided to do something, continue to do it. Solutions take time to work. Get support from your partner, a friend, another parent or your health visitor. It’s good to have someone to talk to about what you’re doing.

Be consistent

Children need consistency. If you react to your child’s behaviour in one way one day and a different way the next, it’s confusing for them. It’s also important that everyone close to your child deals with their behaviour in the same way.

Try not to overreact

This can be difficult. When your child does something annoying time after time, your anger and frustration can build up.

It’s impossible not to show your irritation sometimes, but try to stay calm. Move on to other things you can both enjoy or feel good about as soon as possible.

Find other ways to cope with your frustration, like talking to other parents.

Talk to your child

Children do not have to be able to talk to understand. It can help if they understand why you want them to do something. For example, explain why you want them to hold your hand while crossing the road.

Once your child can talk, encourage them to explain why they’re angry or upset. This will help them feel less frustrated.

Be positive about the good things

When a child’s behaviour is difficult, the things they do well can be overlooked. Tell your child when you’re pleased about something they’ve done. You can let your child know when you’re pleased by giving them attention, a hug or a smile.

Offer rewards

You can help your child by rewarding them for good behaviour. For example, praise them or give them their favourite food for tea.

If your child behaves well, tell them how pleased you are. Be specific. Say something like, “Well done for putting your toys back in the box when I asked you to.”

Do not give your child a reward before they’ve done what they were asked to do. That’s a bribe, not a reward.

Avoid smacking

Smacking may stop a child doing what they’re doing at that moment, but it does not have a lasting positive effect.

Children learn by example so, if you hit your child, you’re telling them that hitting is OK. Children who are treated aggressively by their parents are more likely to be aggressive themselves. It’s better to set a good example instead.

Things that can affect your child’s behaviour

  • Life changes – any change in a child’s life can be difficult for them. This could be the birth of a new baby, moving house, a change of childminder, starting playgroup or something much smaller.
  • You’re having a difficult time – children are quick to notice if you’re feeling upset or there are problems in the family. They may behave badly when you feel least able to cope. If you’re having problems do not blame yourself, but do not blame your child either if they react with difficult behaviour.
  • How you’ve handled difficult behaviour before – sometimes your child may react in a particular way because of how you’ve handled a problem in the past. For example, if you’ve given your child sweets to keep them quiet at the shops, they may expect sweets every time you go there.
  • Needing attention – your child might see a tantrum as a way of getting attention, even if it’s bad attention. They may wake up at night because they want a cuddle or some company. Try to give them more attention when they’re behaving well and less when they’re being difficult.

Extra help with difficult behaviour

Do not feel you have to cope alone. If you’re struggling with your child’s behaviour:

  • talk to your health visitor – they will be happy to support you and suggest some new strategies to try
  • visit the Family Lives website for parenting advice and support, or phone their free parents’ helpline on 0808 800 2222
  • download the NSPCC’s guide to positive parenting

Video: how much does my child understand about being naughty? (6 to 30 months)

In this video, a health visitor explains whether your child understands about being naughty.