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Things to Teach Your Child About Behavior Problems

by Anna Green, studioD

Many children display behavior problems at home or school. In most cases, you can resolve these issues through simple behavior interventions, but in some cases, your child may need professional therapy in to address her problems. In addition to addressing your child's specific behaviors, it can also be useful to teach your children about the dynamics and consequences of their behaviors. Since children do not have the life experience or reasoning abilities of adults and older adolescents, having candid discussions about behavioral problems may help your child understand his reactions and experiences, as well as deter future behavior issues.

Potential Consequences

Younger children may lack the cognitive ability to understand the purpose of rules and social expectations. For example, your elementary school-aged child may not realize that leaving school without permission can be dangerous. Likewise, children may not be able look at the bigger picture and see the possible consequences of their actions. For example, if you have a preschooler who hits and kicks in anger, he may not realize that he may face legal consequences if his behaviors continue. While your teenager will almost certainly understand the consequences of such violent behavior, a younger child might not unless you explain it to him directly.

Personal Responsibility

Your children might think they are incapable of controlling their impulses and behaviors. That said, even if your child has a biologically based mental illness such as Bipolar Disorder or Pervasive Developmental Disorder, she could learn the skills necessary to take responsibility for her choices and improve her behaviors. Encouraging your child to assert personal responsibility over her behaviors can be difficult, but it is possible, explains Susan Yates in “Thriving Family Magazine.” Yates encourages parents to foster behavioral responsibility through positive reinforcement. Likewise, she emphasizes the importance of changing behavioral expectations gradually, so that any new expectations do not overwhelm your child.

Parental Support and Love

If your child has behavioral problems, you should provide unconditional love and support while still maintaining clear expectations and rules. The University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension explains that spending time with your children and showing them love and affection can be a key component in maintaining good behavior. In other words, you can encourage better choices by showing your children support and love, even if they do not behave perfectly all the time.

Personal Coping Skills

Each individual has different responses to conflict and different ways of deescalating from strong emotions such as anger or disappointment. Helping your children identify their emotions and teaching them to draw on their individual strengths, needs and coping skills can be an important lesson to teach children about behavioral problems. For example, if your child hits others out anger, helping him identify the early signs of his rage and encouraging him to redirect himself with a constructive coping mechanism, such as drawing or throwing a basketball, can give him power over his own behaviors.

About the Author

Anna Green has been published in the "Journal of Counselor Education and Supervision" and has been featured regularly in "Counseling News and Notes," Keys Weekly newspapers, "Travel Host Magazine" and "Travel South." After earning degrees in political science and English, she attended law school, then earned her master's of science in mental health counseling. She is the founder of a nonprofit mental health group and personal coaching service.

Photo Credits

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