Most children are energetic and some are also pretty strong-willed but how do you differentiate between bad behavior and a free spirit? As a parent, you will know your child best and you should begin to learn what is normal for them and what is completely out of character. The way you, as a parent and an adult, responds to any child behavior problems will have a major effect on how likely they will repeat them later.
Common behavior problems in children
There are several reasons why children show bad behavior and, if you are a first-time parent, you will want to know how to handle such problems. If you feel as though things are spiralling out of control or you need extra support, a child behaviour therapist is an ideal solution since they have the knowledge and experience in handling behavior problems among children. The most common behaviors include:
- Lying. Children may begin to lie for several reasons; to feel better about themselves, to get attention or to avoid getting in trouble. Knowing how to distinguish the reason why a child is lying can help you find the best solution. When you catch your child lying, ask them if what happened was the truth or if it was something that they wanted to happen. If you have instilled a policy in your household to always tell the truth, emphasize the importance of being honest. Praise the child for telling the truth, especially if the consequence is that they will get in trouble.
- Defiance. It is common for children to be defiant and test the limits of your patience but if this is a constant occurrence, then it can become a big problem. Defiance is quite a complex problem to address and depending on your child, you may need to try a few things to try to overcome this. First off, you should speak openly with your child. Find out if there is a deep-rooted reason for this defiance, perhaps bullying at school? Maybe they are worried about something? Are things a bit tricky at home? If you can get them to open up, you may find that your support can help with this behavior. If the change is due to another factor- perhaps they play up when their favourite video game is taken away?- Then you must address this accordingly. Setting boundaries such as time restraints, offering reward systems and coming to a mutual agreement will allow them to understand that rules are in place and that working together is much better than coming to loggerheads. If things don’t settle down following these steps you may want to go down the route of offering a warning and a consequence. If your child doesn’t comply, follow through with your consequence- this could be no more video games for example. Doing this consistently will hopefully set the standard in your home and your child should begin to understand that bad behavior is not tolerated.
- Excessive screen time. Most children today spend far too long in front of the TV, computer, cellphone or tablet. which is understandable considering the times we are living in. As well as being on these items for fun, they are also used for eductional reasons both at school and for homework. Unfortunately, screen time can get addictive and as mentioned above, it can lead to a change in behavior. The best way to tackle this is by limiting screen time and using the weekends to have a digital detox.
- Whining. Whining can easily turn into a bad habit if the child believes that they can get what they want when they do so. Ignoring them can be one of the best actions to take if this is the case as it will show your child that you will not change your mind even if they whine. Teach them how to deal with disappointment and tell them why you cannot allow them to do something. Always provide plenty of attention when they stop whining.
It’s normal for children to exhibit bad behavior once in a while but if they persist, if your childcare setting shows some concerns then perhaps seek advice from your pediatrician to discuss other possibilities such as medical conditions, learning difficulties or developmental issues.
Remember, bad behavior is often a phase, it can usually be worked out and there is plenty of support for you to turn to if you feel you need it.
*This is a collaborative post. For further information please refer to my disclosure page.
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