Child Behavior

Childhood behavioral problems or concerns are one of the most common challenges that parents face

By Vanessa Rasmussen, © 2004, All rights reserved.

Most children go through intense developmental, emotional and physical changes in short amounts of time which makes it difficult for the parent or teacher to keep up with them. Behavioral problems should be addressed in the early stages. The younger the child is when the problem is addressed and the more consistent parents are in implementing any type of intervention, the better the outcome.

Some of the most common behavioral issues with regards to young children are: fighting, bullying, teasing, biting, inability to share, temper tantrums, unorganized behavior and so on.

Following are some suggestions to help parents deal with such issues:

• Often children fight and hit other children to get attention. Ignore the fight and provide immediate attention to the child who has been hit. The aggressive child can be given a ‘time-out’ and told specifically that this kind of behavior is not acceptable.

• If your child is a fussy or picky eater, ascertain if your child truly has any health and/or nutrition related issues. More often than not, what seems to the parent to be a problem may in fact be quite normal behavior for their child’s age. Don’t force-feed, plead, bribe your child, or make the child feel guilty. Give small portions and include variety in the food choices.

• Give positive feedback for good behavior.

• If a child bites, say a firm ‘No’ and remove the child from the situation. Do not take the situation lightly or joke about the behavior otherwise it will give mixed signals to the child.

• Make sure that the child gets enough sleep including daytime naps. A child who does not get enough sleep can be very fussy, irritable, aggressive and may not be able to learn or play well with other children.

• If a child is suffering from school phobia or anxiety, be patient and try to understand why the kid is feeling this way. Identify the cause, and if necessary seek the help of school personnel or a child psychologist to plan a systematic approach to help the child. As the child grows older, he/she will adapt to the school environment and get over the phobia.

• Discipline teaches a child what to do and what not to do and provides guidance for becoming a socialized individual who accepts responsibility for his or her actions. Punishment, such as spanking or the withdrawal of a positive reinforcement, is an unpleasant consequence that follows an undesirable behavior. Punishment often brings on crying, anxiety, anger, depression or aggression.

• Encourage good habits in children by letting them do their own little chores and even helping you around the house. For example the child can arrange his own shoes properly on the shoe rack and put the used socks in the laundry basket. Or the child can help pick his/her school clothes.

Copyright 2001, 2004. All rights reserved. Any reproduction of this article in whole or in part without written or verbal permission is strictly prohibited. For information about reprinting this article, contact the copyright owner: Vanessa Rasmussen, Ph.D, Starting a Day Care CenterStarting a Day CareCenter

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