Parents' Corner

What You Can Do About Children with Behavior and Social Issues

Posted by Dave Smith on Wed, Dec 07, 2022 @ 09:00 AM

Behavior and social issues can be tough to overcome for a child, but they don't have to be.

Whether your child throws tantrums, argues about rules, or blames siblings for their own undesirable behavior, this can be frustrating. Often, according to Healthline, these behaviors are a temporary phase that can be worked through with patience and understanding. It may help to reach out to your pediatrician for reassurance and support. 

Managing Behavioral and Social Issues

When explaining what you need a child to do, NHK.uk says, also explain why. Encourage your child to explain how they feel and listen to their responses. Plus, be consistent in how you respond to particular behaviors. 

Reward desirable behaviors with positive feedback whenever they occur: “Thank you for sharing with your brother,” or “I like how focused you were tonight on your homework.” With specific positive feedback, an article for parents and teachers notes, many children will want to do more of what earns them praise. Also use positive body language when indicating your approval: a thumbs up and a smile, for example. 

Try a Reward Chart To Improve Behavior

You may also decide to use a reward chart. If so, describe the behaviors you want to see instead of the ones you want to stop. Say “Be kind and helpful to your sister,” for example, rather than “Don’t make fun of your sister anymore.”

There are plenty of reward charts online or you can look at examples and make your own. Younger children will likely respond better to physical charts that they can touch and see while apps may work better for older children or ones who want this system to be privately kept between you and them. You could start by giving stars to respond to good behavior—and then offer a desirable reward once a certain number of stars are accumulated: perhaps being able to stay up later on a Saturday night or a coveted toy. 

Praise your child and affix the star immediately after the good behavior to strengthen the connection. 

Causes of Behavior and Social Issues

If you consistently practice positive reinforcement, but the behaviors don’t improve, it’s time for more exploration. As ChildMind.org notes, it’s important to understand the root cause to develop a plan to address the behavior.  

Here are three potential causes among many: 

  • Anxiety: When a child is in a situation that makes them feel anxious, they might have a tantrum or lash out.
  • ADHD: When a child struggles to pay attention, they might not follow through on instructions or might become defiant, among other possibilities. 
  • Learning Disorders: When a child realizes that other children understand schoolwork more easily, they can lose their temper in response. 

Consult a Behavioral Specialist

At this point, you’ll want to consult with your child’s pediatrician. You may get referred to a developmental-behavioral professional to properly diagnose and help your child. This doctor will likely want:

  • a detailed history of behaviors and how you’ve tried to help your child
  • to observe and talk to your child and conduct a medical examination
  • to get information from your child’s teachers and/or childcare center

You may get a diagnosis fairly quickly or it may take periodic visits to fully evaluate your child. Throughout the process, follow treatments prescribed—whether behavioral and/or medicinal—and remain your child’s best advocate. Share necessary information with your child’s teachers and childcare givers so everyone can be on the same page. 

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Topics: Child Behavior, Child Development, Parenting Tips

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