How To Cope With Behavioral Problems In Children

As a parent or guardian one of the toughest things to deal with is behavioral problems in children. Starting from the earliest ages it can be clear to see whether you will have issues with your child’s behavior as a child’s conduct even as a toddler can be a precursor to future behavioral problems children may encounter. Learning how to cope with these changes in a child’s behavior is key to keeping your own sanity as well as doing the right thing for your child to make sure they grow up to be good well rounded teens and adults. By understanding the situations, responding accordingly and planning for the future you can take the steps to totally changing any negative behavioral issues you’re experiencing with your child. Let’s go into more detail.

UNDERSTANDING THE SITUATION

Sometimes it is hard to figure out why your child is acting out and other times you can point to some possible reasons or challenges they may be experiencing in their lives. Determining the root cause of the bad behavior is important in order to come up with remedies and solutions to fix the issues. Many behavioral problems in children can stem from family issues including divorce, death and the stress that comes with both of those situations. A death in the family, whether immediate family or a distant relative, can sometimes trigger emotions in children that they have never experienced before and thus they have not learned how to cope with those feelings. The same can be said for children in families going through a divorce. Children in both of these situations often have problems in school and are more likely to have aggressive behavior that leads to problems with authority figures (i.e. parents, teachers, police, etc.) In either situation (death or divorce) feelings of depression, low self esteem and isolation are common and children are much more likely to lash out by engaging in activities that are viewed as an escape (i.e. drugs, alcohol, sexual activity, delinquency, etc.) Studies show that roughly 20% of children who experience a death or divorce will have behavioral issues which is encouraging as that means a majority of children in these situations will be able to cope and adjust.

School behavior problems are much more common these days as kids are constantly challenged with stressful situations including school work, sports, bullying and other social situations. The stresses that school-age children encounter every day is sometimes too much for them to handle and it’s often followed by sudden bad behavior that makes parents wonder where they went wrong. What parents need to understand is that some children have a hard time dealing with problems in school and all is not lost. Simply knowing that there is a way to help them deal with these situations and knowing how to respond is the key.

RESPONDING

How a parent or guardian responds to the behavioral problems in children will determine how quickly or slowly the behavior is corrected. Parents need to remember that the idea is to address the underlying issues causing the bad behavior and to remember that the child is not the issue, the behavior is. So what are some ways you can positively respond to bad behaviors in your children ?

  1. Remain calm and don’t take it personal – Many parents tend to take children’s outbursts and bad behavior personally and think that it’s something they did to make this happen. By staying calm and rational, you’ll come to an understanding that your child is in need of help and the only way you can tackle it is to remain calm, cool and collected and focus on the real problems. behavioral problems in children
  2. Know when to praise and when to punish – So many children spend their lives constantly being ridiculed at home and at school and they receive constant negative feedback from parents and teachers. As parents it’s our job not only to punish our children for wrongdoing but also praise them for doing the right things. Spend more time looking for the good things your child is doing rather than focusing on the bad things. Reward good behaviors and show your children that people who do good things in this world are rewarded. Over time your child will crave your praise and slowly but surely the bad behaviors will begin to fade away. It takes a lot of time and patience though. The old saying “Rome wasn’t built in a day” is very applicable when it comes to correcting behavioral problems in children.
  3. Work with teachers and authority figures – Stay in close contact (daily if needed) with your child’s teachers to make sure you have a full understanding of how your child’s behavior is changing. Most times parents will simply say “let the teachers handle it” but at some point parents need to understand that teaching doesn’t stop when the school bell rings. Parents should continue promoting good behaviors as soon as the child steps foot in the door after school as consistency will ultimately better bad behaviors. Find out from the teachers what has been working, what is not working and where they suggest you should focus your efforts at home. Know that teachers are not just teaching math and spelling but are also very much involved in the overall discipline of your child and they can help you too.
  4. Consider therapy or advice from doctors – I think there is a real fear in our country today that conceding to therapy means you have failed. However, the bottom line is this….you DO NOT know everything and there are people out there who can help you. Just because you have the ability to bear children does not mean you are also a perfect parent and disciplinarian. It’s ok to ask for help and if the behavior of your children is causing issues at home it’s ok to seek a remedy, especially from trained professionals. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent. If anything, seeking advice means your are the best parent out there as you are putting your kids and family first.

PLANNING

After you’ve taken the steps to correct the behavioral problems it’s a good idea to plan out the near future and how you will handle disruptive behavior problems should they continue. As young people grow and begin to experience different situations behavioral problems are sure to resurface. This is not to say you have a problem child on your hands but it’s normal for some children to  test their limits as they get older and that sometimes creates new (sometimes bad) behaviors. Here are some recommendations on how you can plan for these changes:

  1. Keep on a schedule – Planning out a daily regimen can not only help you keep things in order but it can also help control behavioral problems in children. Come up with a schedule for your child that includes school time, homework, playtime or free time and bed time. Make sure it’s flexible to adjust to the daily changes we experience in our lives but for the most part the major things (i.e. bed time) should be set in stone. Kids tend to behave better when they have a schedule and over time as they get used to the regimen you will see dramatic differences in their behavior.
  2. Talk with your child every day – Keeping the lines of communication open with your children is extremely important as it keeps you in touch with their daily activities and gives you a good feel on how they’re dealing with things. By putting time aside each day to talk with your child about their day and help guide them through the problems they may be experiencing you will head off any behavior problems that may be looming. Take 10-15 minutes each day to sit down one-on-one with your child just to talk. Make sure the TV is off, the video games are off and there are no distractions. Build this into your daily schedule and you will see positive changes in your relationship with your child along with their behavior.
  3. Plan rewards – Kids really respond to rewards and you can use this to your advantage when dealing with behavior problems. Plan an outing to your child’s favorite restaurant or maybe plan a night at the movies with your child and his/her friends. By giving your child some incentives to change their behavior you will teach them that those who do the right thing are rewarded in life.

There is no magic formula for fixing behavioral problems in children but there is a lot you can do to help children get back on the right track. Studies show that threats and isolation simply do not work but a system of responding quickly and accordingly and planning for future issues is an effective way to deal with specific behavior problems. It takes a lot of time and effort on your part but in the end your child will be better off and ready for the challenges they’ll experience in life. Good luck to you!

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