Ask any parent of an older child, and they’ll tell you, that they worried about their kids for nothing. That whole phase when they were little and threw a tantrum for the smallest disappointment, had screaming matches with their siblings or couldn’t sit still, they all turned out okay. Most parents will tell you that in retrospect they realise it was just a part of growing up. Raising children is a constant battle of knowing if you’re parenting right. An equally difficult dilemma is understanding if your child’s challenging behaviour is just a phase or something more that needs attention and intervention.
Starting from the notorious “terrible twos” challenging behaviour is second nature to kids. Any parent will agree that all children exhibit difficult behaviour at some point in time. Feeling sad, angry, frustrated from time to time is expected from children. Certain changes in the family environment can also bring about changes in behaviour. E.g. the death of a pet, moving to a different city or a busy parent. How you react to these behaviours will also determine if some of them last longer. Some however have lesser to do with our reactions. Which one of these behaviours exactly need intervention? Read on to find out more.
All children can be naughty, demanding and impulsive from time to time. Not all problematic behaviour in children needs intervention. Many of the challenging behaviour they show is actually a part of growing up and learning new skills. Difficult truth to digest, this one. A toddler asserting independence, whining for attention, a young child who is always on the go or who says No to everything, in reality, could just be children testing their limits and developing age-appropriate skills. Some of the behaviours you find unacceptable might be completely acceptable in another home, depending on the parenting style or household rules. Constant snacking, breaking toys, arguing and defiance that you see as problematic might be viewed as a child asserting independence by other parents.
Many therapists who work extensively with children are of the opinion that it is best to delay “labelling” young children with a behaviour disorder and instead giving them sufficient time to develop the skills they need to handle intense emotions and situations. As children go through rapid changes in the first few years of life, emotionally and behaviourally, it is not always easy to know which of these problems need intervention and which are expected and typical. However, it is best to get guidance if you have concerns about your child’s behaviour.
Many young children experience behaviour and emotional problems that are temporary and usually pass with time and parental support. Some might be outside the norm for their age, some caused by stressors in the environment and others a sign of a more serious and enduring disorder.
Some of the common behaviour issues seen in children are lying, needing too much screen or gadget time, defiance, disrespectful behaviours, impulsiveness, aggression and tantrums. While some of these might go away on their own as children develop better skills, others might need minimal intervention. Parents might need counselling support and guidance on how to help their children. Therapists might also work with children to teach them better communication skills, how to manage their anger and cope in stressful situations.
Some of the more serious and longer-lasting behavioural disorders in children include
While most children under the age of 5 are rarely given the diagnosis of these more serious behavioural disorders, it may be possible that they do begin to exhibit the symptoms earlier of certain disorders that could be diagnosed later in childhood.
It is difficult to correctly gauge what behaviour is typical and what warrants intervention. But a few guidelines to help you understand if your child needs intervention are
If you observe any of the above in your child, please reach out to a professional for help and to gain guidance. You can talk to your child’s paediatrician or get in touch with a therapist who can put your concerns at rest.
Giving thought to the possibility that your child might have a behavioural issue can be daunting. It can often leave parents feeling anxious about their child and wondering if they are doing wrong. But we must remember that parenting is a challenging job and as parents, we don’t always have the answers. Do not blame yourself for any of your child’s challenging behaviour but get curious about the why and how of it. Understanding the underlying cause of behaviour helps in changing it. Reach out for help when you need to. Considering that your child has a behaviour problem doesn’t mean you are doing something wrong, but that you care about your child having the best outcome.
You can reach out to your Specialists at Tactopus to share your behaviour concerns.