Behavioural Issues in Children & Teens

Have you ever felt overwhelmed, inadequate, lost and simply ready to give up? Do not despair…you are not alone. 

Most parents today have hectic lifestyles and coming home to a child who is screaming, shouting and just simply not listening is the last thing you want. All these behavioural issues can be addressed and resolved if first, we understand why your child is “acting out”.

Common causes of behaviour issues in your child:
1. Attention seeking
2. Tiredness
3. Hunger
4. Sickness
5. Change in routine
6. Struggle to communicate
7. Sensory issues
8. Home life
9. Environment

Why does my child react the way they do?

To break this down into simple terms, we haven’t taught our children to react any differently, and in some cases, we have even taught them to scream, shout and spit. You may be thinking, I have never told my child to react in such a way knowingly, but by giving attention at the incorrect time, you have enforced this behaviour.

When your child acts out, how do you respond? Do you scream back, send them to their room with no explanation or act in a passive-aggressive manner? It’s common for us to turn any behaviour issues into a power struggle, for example, by shouting back.
When your child has responded in this manner, we need to ask yourself, what are they trying to communicate? It is your role as a parent to teach your child how to communicate clearly. Respect your child’s feelings and manage their expectations. You as a parent or teacher have to instil behaviour patterns in children.

Positive response methods

You need to acknowledge your specific responses to behaviour patterns. Ask yourself a question…are you giving your child positive reinforcement when it’s due? We are all guilty of ignoring this but it is a key part of teaching your child right from wrong.
You may think it demeaning to congratulate your child for eating all of their dinners or to congratulate them for listening to an instruction. However, positive enforcement is vital and the following processes will be important lessons concerning positive attention seeking behaviours at the right time.

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Negative response methods

We forget to praise our children but can be quick to shout when they act out. What message is being presented to your child when we react in such a manner? From the child’s point of view, if I shout, scream or spit, I get noticed. However, should I be doing something positive, no one takes notice of me.

My 10 years of experience analysing these behaviours have proven that ignoring negative behaviours and not providing the child with an audience, prompts the child to think: this action is not giving me the response I desire.
Although this can become overwhelming and stressful to ignore, we must be patient, consistent and do it with conviction.

Jaspreet’s Positive behavioural techniques:

Stage 1: Understanding

Why is the child acting out? If this is due to an issue that can easily be resolved, eg the child is feeling hungry, tired or wanting a hug, then at this point, you may provide what they require, but also explain to the child the importance of communicating their issues with calm and constructive words. If this is not the case, move to stage 2.

Stage 2: Explain

Explain to your child what they have done, why they shouldn’t do it and how they should communicate their needs effectively.

Stage 3: Warn

Set boundaries, tell your child it is not acceptable behaviour and if the child persists, there will be a consequence (this must be a meaningful and motivating consequence). This consequence should be something the child does not want to happen (i.e. time-out, no game machine or iPad). When doing this, it is very important to set adequate timescales that are age appropriate. For example, if the child is 3 years old, it is suitable to put the child in time-out for 3 minutes.

Stage 4: Consistency

If you do not follow through and stick to what you say, the child will not trust or believe you for future
The most important part of parenting is spending quality time with your children. Above all else, it is our human nature to desire love and affection from the people we care most about.

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