Kids with challenging behaviour
Nobody’s perfect. All children have times when they misbehave or engage in inappropriate behaviour, and this is pretty normal. But what about those kids who are always in trouble, always pushing the boundaries and always difficult to manage?
It can be really hard to know how to help kids who persistently engage in problem behaviours. Behaviours can include things like calling out and being disruptive in class, hitting and biting, nagging, teasing others, snatching and pushing in, having tantrums or emotional melt-downs, refusing to do what they are asked, shouting and swearing. For these kids, despite our best efforts to help them change their disruptive behaviours, the behaviours persist. You may have already tried a range of disciplining and behaviour management strategies, but it is just not working. This can drive both parents and teachers to frustration and despair.
So why do children persist in behaving in ways that are inappropriate or will get them into trouble? Here are some of the many possible reasons:
- Sensory issues
- Autism spectrum
- Hidden pay-offs for inappropriate behaviour
- Learning issues
- Emotional distress following loss or trauma
- Speech/communication issues
It is usually the case that when children have persistently difficult behaviours, there are some powerful reasons for these behaviours that are beyond the child’s control. However, what tends to happen is that the child’s behaviours are so irritating and frustrating for those around them, that people start to judge the child negatively, labelling the child as bad, naughty, selfish, a trouble-maker or a nuisance. And once this reputation is established, it is hard to shake.
Things you can do to help your child
- Find the positive. When kids have been misbehaving for some time, it is easy to forget or ignore the good things they have been doing – things get stuck in a very negative cycle. Find something to praise, or find some things you enjoy doing together. Let your child know that you see them as a whole person, not just as a ‘naughty kid.’
- Treat yourself kindly. Parenting can be frustrating, exhausting and emotional, and we all have times when we don’t handle things the way we would have liked. Find out more here about the challenges of managing child behaviour.
- Build a team. You don’t need to deal with this on your own. You can set up a team to help you support your child, and help them improve their behaviour. Your team might include your child’s teacher, a psychologist, a paediatrician, or other allied health professionals.
How can a psychologist help?
We believe that there are no ‘bad’ kids , and that by working to understand what may be driving a child’s difficult behaviours we can find ways to help things to change. We start by doing detective work, gathering as much information as we can and finding out the factors that are contributing to your child’s challenging behaviours.
Once we know what we are dealing with, we work in partnership with parents, teachers and children to turn things around.
- Sometimes this involves helping parents to work on their parenting skills – it is easier to manage your child’s challenging behaviour if you have a range of tips and tricks you can use.
- Sometimes it involves working more with your child’s educators to make changes to the learning environment, so your child can perform at their best.
- And of course, we will involve your child in this process. We want every child to feel valued and understood, and to be a part of the solution. We love helping kids develop their ability to manage feelings of anger and frustration, and deal with issues like low self esteem and low mood. If we can help kids feel happier, this is likely to help them improve their behavioural issues.