Common Child Behavior Problems

Have you noticed a child throwing a tantrum in a shopping store? Or perhaps, noticed children aggressively fighting over something that might even seem small or irrelevant to you? Some children display these behaviors more often than others. Through the following article, you can make sense of these behaviors better.

What are Behavioral Problems in Children?

An action that responds to a stimulus event is referred to as a behavior. It is what you observe someone doing. Although "behavior" is sometimes used to refer to inappropriate behavior, it is crucial to remember that behavior is neither intrinsically good nor evil. While aggressive behaviors injure others, pro-social behaviors help kids get along with others and are generally what we want them to do. It can be tempting to jump to conclusions about a behavior's motivation. However, since we cannot read children's brains, it may be more beneficial to concentrate on observation, careful descriptions of what is happening, and recognizing the stimulus.

The child's thoughts regarding the stimuli or scenario will typically alter if we can change the behavior first. A reinforcer is something you do to make a particular behavior more frequent. Examples of reinforcers include praise and rewards like stickers. A punisher is something you do to make a certain behavior less frequent; examples include being barred from enjoyable activities or losing privileges. Punishment is not the punisher. Because punishment typically fails to alter behavior, it is not recommended. However, it is advised to observe how certain factors affect a child's behavior and boost strategies that encourage good behaviors while reducing those that do the opposite.

A lack of acceptable behaviors or an overabundance of undesirable ones can be used to classify behavioral issues broadly. Unwanted behaviors can include failing to listen, failing to comply, failing to eat, failing to go to bed, failing to use the restroom, and failing to go to school when required. Hitting, kicking, biting, screaming, teasing, or swearing is examples of undesirable behaviors.

Problems of Adolescents

A passionate longing for independence and revolt against parental control frequently defines adolescence. At this age, problems with family and school supervision, drug and alcohol abuse, absenteeism, theft, and sexual misbehavior are widespread. As a result, it is unsurprising that adolescents with such issues are often reported to be distrustful of adults (including the therapist), rebellious, defiant, and resistant to therapeutic attempts.

Adolescents who are hesitant to improve their behavior may blame others for their issues. Group treatment approaches are frequently utilized with teenagers to create a less intimidating and more attractive environment and to attempt to engage in peer support for behavior modification. Individual counseling is frequently offered to teenagers who are predominantly afraid, withdrawn, sad, or intellectually confused.

Types of Behaviour Problems

The following sorts of behavioral issues have been identified −

  • Classroom Disturbance − The level to which the youngster taunts and torments classmates, interferes with other people's work, and is easily enticed into making noise, which must be managed.

  • Impatience − The degree to which the youngster begins work too fast, is sloppy in work, is unwilling to redo work, and rushes through work. Physically more active and agitated.

  • Disrespect-Defiance − The level to which the kid speaks disrespectfully to instructors, refuses to perform what is requested of him/her and violates classroom norms.

  • Achievement Anxiety − The degree to which the youngster is bothered by test results and sensitive to criticism or correction.

  • External Reliance − The degree to which the kid turns to others for guidance, requires precise guidance, and has difficulties making independent judgments.

  • Inattentive-Withdrawn − The degree to which the youngster loses focus, appears ignorant of what is going on in the classroom, is difficult to reach, or is distracted.

  • Irrelevant-Responsiveness − The amount to which the kid tells exaggerated stories, delivers irrelevant replies, interrupts the instructor while she is speaking, and makes irrelevant comments during class discussion.

  • Need for closeness to teacher − The level to which the kid seeks out the instructor before or after class, offers tasks for the teacher, is pleasant towards the teacher, and prefers to be physically near the teacher.

Common Behavioral Issues in Children

Common behavioral issues that can be seen in children include non-compliance or defiance, inattention, tantrums, aggression, lying, bullying, etc. When these unpleasant/ disruptive actions are unusual for the child's age, persist over time, or are severe, a behavior problem may be identified. Disruptive conduct disorders are commonly referred to as externalizing disorders since they include acting out and displaying undesirable behavior toward others. These can often be classified into the following categories:

Oppositional Defiant Disorder

Oppositional Defiant Disorder may be diagnosed when a child's recurrent misbehavior interferes with their ability to function at school, at home, or with their classmates (ODD). ODD typically manifests before the age of eight but no later than around twelve. A child with ODD is more likely to show oppositional behavior or be defiant when they are around people they know well, like a primary caregiver- parents, teachers, etc. These behaviors are more prevalent in children with ODD than other kids their age. ODD behaviors include the following:

  • Frequently becoming enraged or losing control.

  • Frequently disagreeing with adults or disobeying their norms or requests.

  • Frequently bitter or hateful.

  • Intentionally annoying others or/ and quickly getting agitated.

Conduct Disorder

Children with conduct disorder (CD) exhibit persistent patterns of violence toward others and a flagrant disregard for social norms at home, school, and among peers. These rules infractions may constitute criminal offenses and lead to arrest. Children with CD have a higher risk of injury and may struggle to get along with their peers. A few examples of CD habits are as follows:

  • Breaking major rules, including running away, remaining out late when instructed not to, or skipping school

  • Aggressive behavior that harms others, such as bullying, fighting, or treating animals cruelly.

  • Intentionally lying, stealing, or causing harm to another person's property.

Treatment for Disruptive Behavior Disorders

Early therapy interventions are crucial in the case of behavioral disorders. When a treatment plan is tailored to the needs of a particular kid and family, it is most effective. Speaking with a healthcare physician is the first step toward receiving therapy. A thorough assessment by a mental health expert may be required to make the proper diagnosis. Some behavioral indicators, including breaking school rules, may indicate underlying academic difficulties that require further support. The most successful treatment for younger children is behavior therapy training for parents. A therapist teaches the parent how to better connect with their child and handle their behavior. Combining training and counseling with the child, family, and school is a frequently used and successful treatment for school-aged children and teens.

Managing Symptoms

Being healthy is important for all kids, but it might be particularly crucial for kids with behavioral or conduct issues. In addition to behavioral therapy and medication, practicing specific healthy living choices may lessen your child's problematic and disruptive behaviors. Following are some beneficial, healthy habits:

  • Exercising regularly, particularly aerobic and strenuous exercise.

  • Eating a balanced diet that emphasizes lean protein sources, legumes (such as beans, peas, and lentils), fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.

  • Obtaining an age-recommended amount of sleep each night.

  • Enhancing connections with family members.

Prevention of Disruptive Behavior Disorders

The precise cause of certain children's disruptive behavior issues is unknown. Numerous elements, including biological and societal ones, may be involved. It is well known that exposure to other forms of violence and criminal activity, maltreatment, harsh or inconsistent parenting, or parental mental health issues like substance use disorder, depression, or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder increases the risk for children to have behavioral issues. The quality of early childhood care can also influence the degree to which a kid develops behavioral issues. The social context of a child can often play a crucial role in their behavioral approaches. The following are some factors that cause behavioral issues in children:

Does Punishment Improve Behaviour?

A teacher punishes a pupil when he intentionally causes physical or emotional harm or distress to another student. Before we continue, a crucial point of confusion must be addressed. There is a significant qualitative distinction between delaying satisfaction and punishing. Because he broke safety standards and jeopardized the health of his classmates and himself, a student may be denied the privilege of going out to recess for some time. This will make him uncomfortable. It is not, however, the same as being thrashed, purposefully humiliated in front of his classmates, or made to hold heavy books at arm's length till tiredness sets in. Only when the right alternative behavior is done and rewarded is punishment helpful for removing a deviant habit.

Teachers who employ punitive control tactics liberally may justify their behavior by arguing, "It may not agree with the psychology book, but it works." Usually, the instructor means that the deviancy does not occur or spread. The idea that the greater the length of punishment, the longer the penalized response will be suppressed is supported by research.


Several reasons might lead to a child acting out. However, if these behaviors are observed too often and are unusual for the particular age group, they are classified as externalizing disorders. These can be observed for various reasons and should be addressed as such.

Updated on: 05-Apr-2023


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