Children with Behaviour Problems

Children with Behaviour Problems—How to Deal with Them

By Chris Thompson

When you have your first baby the last thing you’re thinking about is children with behavior problems. Having a baby may have been the best thing that ever happened to you, especially early on. You have to endure 9 months of waiting, and then you fall in love the moment you hold your little bundle of joy. You spend every day with him and your love grows. And we all kind of expect to be loved back in the same way.

As your baby grows into a child though, you start noticing things. He doesn’t listen to you, he talks back (at such a young age!), he doesn’t do anything he’s asked to do and you stop having guests over because you’re afraid that your child will act up in the middle of the party.

If your child is behaving badly, then he may have behavior problems. There are several possible causes for such behaviors. It may be due to a behavior disorder such as ADHD, autism or bipolar disorder.

But often enough, children with behavior problems have those behavior problems because the parents simply don’t understand the basic tools of communication to resolve conflict. And conflict is often the result of a child who holds on to negative beliefs.

For one, the child may believe that he HAS THE RIGHT to get what he wants—when he want it. He may also believe that he has power over his parents, or that every interaction between him and his parents is a power struggle and that he should win. Sometimes, the child may also believe that there’s no way he can get what he wants but to demand it.

So, what should we do when dealing with children with behaviour problems?

Most children with behavior problems act in such a way because they don’t feel that they are important, hence the need to shout and cry to get the parent’s attention. We can make the child know that he is important by including him in activities and asking his opinions. For instance, ask him if he’d prefer a strawberry or a chocolate cake for his birthday. You can also make him feel important by asking him to help you with basic tasks such as groceries. When you’re at the store ask him to help get items off the shelf for you. Include him.

There will be times when your child will want to get his way, such as grabbing his sister’s toy while she’s still playing with it. In these situations it’s important to encourage children to solve their own problems rather than injecting yourself as a negotiator on their behalf. Teach children that it’s not permissible or acceptable to grab another child’s toy without asking. Teach them how to negotiate respectfully with the other child to solve their own problem.

As a parent, remember to stay calm when facing children with behavioral problems. The more you lose your cool, the more your child sees that he’s successfully pushing your hot buttons. You will maintain more power over the situation if you’re cool, collected, and rational.

One of the most important tips to remember is to always listen to your child and learn to ask good questions. More often than not, acting up is the child’s way of getting his parents’ attention. If your child knows that you’re available to listen to him anytime, he may also realize that he doesn’t have to throw things or scream and cry just so his mom and dad will listen to him. On the other hand, if you’re dealing with a meltdown in progress you need to ask good questions to figure out what the child really wants. Avoid “why” questions like, “Why are you screaming?” Instead ask questions such as “What is it that you want?” or “How can I help you with …?” When you ask “why” you put people on the defensive. When you ask questions in other ways you are getting closer to the real problem and are better able to handle it.

Chris Thompson headshotAbout The Author:
Chris Thompson is the creator of “Talking to Toddlers”, an audio course for parents. He teaches parents how to overcome the normal problems that every Mom and Dad faces with kids by learning better communication skills.

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