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How to Address Challenging Behaviors in Children

challenging behaviors

We know that having a healthy childhood includes developing healthy social and emotional skills, that can lead to healthy behaviors. However, all children will showcase some behaviors that are not ideal, which is a part of growing up. Knowing what to do if your child is showing challenging behaviors starts with understanding what is typical versus not typical.

Typical Challenging Behaviors Based on the Child’s Age

challenging behaviors

In parenting, there are many strategies to help teach desired behaviors. Here are some strategies that can help prevent the typical challenging behaviors.

  1. Practice – Create teachable moments after the behavior is shown. In a calm manner, show your child what you want them to do and practice!
  2. Praise –Aim for the 90:10 rule – praise should be given out 90 percent of the time and limit-setting or discipline should be only 10 percent of the time. When you catch your child doing something good, reinforce that behavior with positive praise.
  3. Persist – Remain consistent in your rules and routines. Children flourish when they know what to expect and what goals to meet. By being consistent and predictable, you and your child can know what is expected.

Challenging Behaviors That Are Not Typical or Healthy

  • Self-injury or causing harm to others
  • Aggressive actions like choking, biting, hitting and throwing
  • Causing disruptions in the classroom like talking out of turn, arguing, or making threats
  • Consistently not responding to directions of higher authority and showing general noncompliance
  • Stealing
  • Bullying, insulting and fighting others
  • Inappropriate touching of others

All behavior, both desired and undesired, are ways that children communicate. Challenging behavior is not due to a “bad child” or “bad parenting.” Challenging behavior may be the result of many elements and often require additional support from a professional. Here’s some ways to get the help you may need if your child is exhibiting persistent challenging behaviors:

  1. Consult – Speak with your physician or mental health professional to address any mental health issues and physical causes
  2. Observe – Watch for the challenging behaviors and keep track of the situations before, during and after the behaviors. This will help identify triggers and serve as a road map for improving on managing the behaviors.
  3. Address – Use all the positive people in your child’s life as a support group to help improve the behaviors. This way, every interaction with an adult can be used as a positive one, creating more positive role models.

For more information on understanding child behavior, download our FREE Quick Assessment: Does My Child or Teen Need Professional Help?

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