Solving Behavioural Problems

Whether it is yelling for hours, throwing favourite toys or even becoming abusive to siblings, children’s behavioural problems can cause endless unhappiness within a family.

Most behavioural problems, sometimes called “acting out” or “acting up,” are the result of disappointment, frustration or anger in a child who does not understand how to deal with his/her emotions productively.

Help your children to solve their behavioural problems by assisting them in working through emotions, and re-setting the behavioural patterns they have developed to deal with them.

Common Behavioural Problems in Children and Teens

Children and teens often behave inappropriately in a number of ways. Common behavioural problems include:

  • Biting (especially among young children).
  • Screaming.
  • Whining.
  • Kicking.
  • Hitting.
  • Throwing objects, particularly if asked to share.
  • Swearing.
  • Stealing.
  • Smoking.
  • Drinking.
  • Lying.
  • Gambling.
  • Cutting themselves.
  • Eating disorders.

Identifying Behavioural Problems in Children and Teens

If you suspect your child’s behaviour has become a problem, identifying the behaviours that are causing trouble is the first step to finding a solution. Consider:

  • Keeping a behaviour log of what you consider inappropriate behaviour.
  • Tracking the situations in which behavioural problems are displayed.
  • Observing the causes, and results, of the behaviour in question.
  • Analysing the behavioural patterns.
    • When do the behaviours tend to occur (time of day)?
    • Who is around when the behaviours occur?
    • What are the causes of the behaviours?
    • What are the results of the behaviours?
    • Have consistent punishments been applied for inappropriate behaviour?

Addressing Behavioural Problems in Children and Teens

Simply telling your child that you are disappointed in their behaviour may be enough to curb problems, but more likely you will need to employ a variety of methods for addressing behavioural problems.

Many parents have found results by:

  • Discussing rules with all of their children when everyone is calm.
  • Posting the house rules where they are visible for all.
  • Watching their children for signs of frustration, and distracting them before they can act inappropriately.
  • Using a “time out” method that takes children away from the frustrating situation and gives them time to cool down.
  • Modelling appropriate behaviour by never yelling at or hitting others.
  • Talking with their children about their behaviour and why it is wrong.
  • Offering alternate solutions that children can draw upon when frustrated.

Finding Professional Help for Behavioural Problems in Children and Teens

Sometimes behavioural problems can not be solved as simply as parents would like. When inappropriate behaviours become a threat to health or safety, finding professional help is a smart solution.

Binge drinking, compulsive stealing or gambling, cutting oneself and eating disorders are all behavioural problems that are best dealt with via the help of a professional. When selecting a therapist or counsellor, research:

  • Of which professional organisations they are a member.
  • Their experience in working with children.
  • Their experience with the behaviours your child is displaying.
  • If they have ever published articles on the behaviours your child is displaying.
  • The methods or approach they use in therapy.
  • If they are attached to any hospital or specialised treatment facility.
  • If they feel family therapy would be useful.

Most importantly, if you are searching for a professional to help your child, make sure that you feel comfortable with this person. Search until you are happy with your selection.

See Also
Young boy washing his hands
Reinforcing Good Behaviour
Happy child
Raising Courteous Kids