Whether you have an energetic child or one with a strong personality, there are certain behavior problems that arise at certain ages. The way you react, as a parent, influences their repetition in the future.
When children have behavioral problems, they can have a negative impact on everyone in the family. Often parents aren’t sure what the best strategy is, especially if a child is acting out so frequently and nothing seems to be working. Managing emotions in a healthy way requires a variety of skills, such as controlling impulses, delaying gratification, communicating one’s desires.
There are 3 main reasons why children resort to pranks: to get attention, to avoid problems, and to feel better about themselves. Detecting the cause of this behavior helps you know how to act. When you catch your child lying, explain to him the consequences of his act. Talk to them about the importance of honesty by creating a rule of your house called: “Always tell the truth!”. Praise him when he tells the truth, especially if it involves exposing a wrongdoing.
He defies you
Defiance is a difficult behavior to address. He ignores you when you tell him to pick up his toys or refuses to stop throwing things. It’s normal for them to test your limits at some point. When he is defiant, give him a warning. Say: “When you pick up your toys, then you will be able to play your favorite game”. If he doesn’t comply after the warning, follow up with a consequence. Consistency will help you help your child learn to listen the first time you warn him.
Too much screen time?
Another common problem of children’s behavior is the resistance to the limits of the time spent in front of the screens. He screams when you tell him to turn off the TV or the game on the tablet. Set clear rules about the length of games. If he becomes addicted to electronics, it further shortens the play time. Eliminate this mode of entertainment when the child breaks the rules and be a healthy role model yourself. Periodically, spend time together, without screens.
He lacks respect
Insulting others, using bad words, throwing objects at siblings or other children at the playground are just some of the behavioral issues that show disrespect. If not addressed properly, it can get worse over time. If the child’s intention is to attract attention, ignoring is the best way to react. Tell him calmly and firmly that you will not tolerate such behavior and that it will attract a punishment and the removal of the children he plays with.
Behaves impulsively or aggressively
Toddlers tend to be physically impulsive, so it’s not uncommon for a child as young as 4 to hit. Aggression should decrease over time as the child grows and acquires new skills. Give an immediate consequence for any act of aggression. Extreme, emotional responses tend to intensify the child’s aggression. If you remain calm, he will have the manifestations you want from him. Take away a privilege or use restitution to help him apologize if he hurt someone. If the aggression does not improve over time, seek the advice of a psychotherapist.
He has frequent crying spells
Tantrums, those bouts of crying and screaming that appear out of nowhere, are known to be a normal part of childhood. They are the sign that a child is becoming independent. When he often acts out through tantrums, his relationship with you becomes strained. Specialists see them as involuntary behavior. Unwittingly, the child learns that a tantrum gets him what he wants. Ignoring them can be one of the best ways to deal with them. Teach him so he will get nothing. Show him more effective ways to express his needs. Don’t try to talk to him while he’s upset or having a crying fit. Encourage him to practice negotiations when he is calm and can clearly explain what he wants.
“Emotional intelligence in children’s education”, by Maurice J. Elias, Steven E. Tobias, Brian S. Friedlander, Curtea Veche Publishing House
After he learns to recognize the first signs of anger, you can give him the strategy called “Keep Calm”. This consists of deep breathing and counting sheep as a means of reducing the pressure of anger. It must be practiced to get us out of the mess. (…) If we want to help our children, it is very important to practice these strategies when they are not angry. (…) Finally, the child will have to learn by himself to be calm when entering the arena of life.
He seeks the support of the psychotherapist when the problematic behavior prevents him from making friends or starts having problems with his colleagues and teachers.