Terrible twos. Puberty. As any parent can attest, raising a child isn’t easy. Virtually every child goes through at least one rough patch, but, in most situations, these difficult periods eventually solve themselves. While there may be some nasty moments during this time, often, they don’t have lasting consequences beyond leaving a nasty taste in the parent’s mouth. Unfortunately, though, this is not always the case. Sometimes, a child will spin out of control. Fights become a daily occurrence and, all of a sudden, it can seem as if your child – someone you know and love – is a complete stranger.
There are numerous causes for behavior problems, ranging from bullying and problems at school to mental illness and substance use. Studies estimate that up to 16% of children experience a form of Oppositional Defiant Disorder and up to 4% experience its more severe form – Conduct Disorder. To further complicate matters, oftentimes behavior problems in children go hand in hand with other mental disorders, such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or bipolar disorder. If left untreated, behavior problems in children can impair the child’s future development.
Tips for Helping Behavior Problems in Children
The good news for parents is that there are multiple tips for helping behavior problems in children. First, however, given the risk of other illness’ presence, it is important to remain vigilant for signs and symptoms that could point to the existence of a deeper problem. If you suspect your child’s behavioral issues are caused by mental disorders or substance use, it may be time to consider professional help. Similarly, if your child’s behavior becomes disruptive, there could be underlying issues that would require a specialist to detect.
With that in mind, not all behavior problems in children are alike. For situations in which the child is simply on the wrong path, there are several things to keep in mind. In order to restore balance to the family, remember to:
- Be patient. Although it can be tempting to lose your temper when your child misbehaves, by keeping a cool head during all situations, you will be better prepared to tackle your child’s behavior problems.
- Avoid power struggles. There’s nothing a child with Oppositional Defiant Disorder likes more than to get the parent down to their level. By engaging in fights with your child, you give them exactly what they want. In this scenario, taking the high road is necessary to maintaining authority.
- Keep rules fair. Although part of helping problematic behavior is setting boundaries and imposing consequences for breaking your rules, another part is to always be fair. Punishments should fit the crime.
- Set a good example. The best way to teach your child is to be a role model. Only too frequently, parents expect more of their children than they do of themselves.
- Stay positive. Raising a child can be hard, but with a good attitude, even the worst of problems will pass.