How to Identify the Three Most Common Child Behavioral Problems

It can be hard, sometimes, to identify what is a real behavior problem in a child and what actions simply represent a “kid just being a kid.”

On the one hand we expect children to be rambunctious and to have a lot of energy to burn off. On the other hand sometimes children have far more nervous energy than is healthy and can’t function properly with others, such as at school.

On the one hand children are expected to go through some huge personality shifts and mood swings as they grow older. On the other hand, there are times when these personality shifts manifest manic behaviors or depressed behaviors that can lead to suicidal or other destructive tendencies.

Being able to identify what behavior changes in your child are normal and natural, and which are potentially dangerous, is an important skill that every parent needs to learn. Here’s how to identify some of the most common behavioral problems in children.


It’s hard to think up a more commonly discussed and diagnosed condition within children than attention deficit disorder, or ADHD. There is also no more controversial behavioral problem in children, as there are a number of experts out there who argue this condition doesn’t even exist. The condition does exist, and isn’t merely an expression of youthful exuberance.

The difference between a high energy child and a child that suffers from ADHD is simple- high energy children can still function well in the world, even if they need a lot to do. Children with ADHD cannot function in the world, in any setting. They are primarily unable to focus long enough to learn, whether at home or at school or even when they are just spending with other children. ADHD has a lot more far reaching problems than simply a child that’s unable to sit still.


Autism Awareness RibbonLike ADHD, Autism can be difficult to identify and diagnose in children. This is largely due to the fact that autism produces a number of small, seemingly unrelated symptoms that might not seem like much at first, but which all point to this larger condition.

The largest symptom of autism is a constant state of distraction. Children with autism are unlikely to be able to focus on anything for long, which makes them take a very long time to complete very simple tasks (like getting dressed or brushing their teeth). Often your child will display this lack of attention both at home and at school.

There are a number of smaller symptoms that will point to autism if the above is true. Autistic children are often very sensitive to noises and to the touch of others (even if they are very physical towards others themselves). These children often reject tight or form fitting clothing as well. They are often very picky eaters, and uniquely enough will avoid foods that are white in color- especially grain based foods. Many children with Autism also have a difficult time sleeping at night, and might appear to never sleep.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder

While some children suffer only from Oppositional Defiant Disorder (or ODD) it is very often paired with other common childhood disorders. Unfortunately the pairing of ODD with another condition, such as ADHD, will make much harder for your child and everyone in their life.

ODD is primarily identified by your child exhibiting excessively aggressive behaviors towards others. They seem unable to sit still for very long, like with many other childhood disorders, but instead of simply having a hard time focusing a child with ODD will actively go out of their way to antagonize other children or adults that are nearby.

The difference between a child with ODD and a child who is simply a little bothersome is frequency and persistence of the problem. Children with ODD will display this behavior, without pause, for over 6 months straight, which makes timing a good criteria for diagnosis.


While there are many, many childhood disorders out there, these three are the most common disorders most parents might have to treat. As such, they are the most important disorders for a parent to learn how to diagnose.

Leave a Comment


Previous post:

Next post: