Being a good parent can be difficult. We are never really taught how to raise children effectively, and generally tend to repeat behaviours we have learned from our parents. If we grew up in a dysfunctional environment, this can lead to our replicating the same mistakes we witnessed and experienced as children when our turn to become parents comes around.
Children are supposed to break the rules sometimes. Testing limits is how they learn about themselves and the world. The consequences you give them teach important life lessons. Sometimes, however, behaviour problems can be a sign of a more serious issue. When it comes to differentiating between normal and abnormal behaviour problems, it’s important to know a bit about child development.
What is normal behaviour for a child?
Normal Preschool Behaviour
As preschoolers seek independence, it’s normal for them to argue and exercise their right to say “no.” They commonly vacillate between demanding they are a big kid who can do everything on their own, to using baby talk to declare they need help with a simple task.
Preschoolers may exhibit the occasional tantrum, but they should be gaining more control over their emotions and impulses compared to when they were toddlers. Any temper tantrums at this stage should be shorter and less intense than the toddler years.
Children of ages 4 and 5 may exhibit some minor aggression, but they should be learning how to use their words instead of violence.1
Normal Behaviour for School-Age Kids
As grade school kids take on more responsibility, they often want more freedom than they can handle. They will likely require a fair amount of guidance when it comes to doing chores, completing their homework and taking care of their hygiene. As they begin to solve problems on their own and try new activities, they may struggle to deal with failure.,
Grade schoolers usually need a little help in dealing with uncomfortable emotions,2 like frustration and anxiety, and it’s common for them to lack verbal impulse control.
What can I do to change my child’s behaviour? Lo
The following are some effective tools to use to bring about a little more order in your household:
1. Praise your children :
Any time you catch your child being good, make sure you let him or her know how appreciative you are of his or her good behaviour. Everyone responds in positive ways to praise, children included, so this will encourage your child to behave in desirable ways.
2. Use Behavioural incentives :
To inspire your kids to do their chores, put a chart or calendar up on the wall listing, day by day, the tasks you want them to complete. This could include things such as taking out the trash or setting the table for dinner, but you can also include behaviours such as doing their homework, brushing their teeth, or being nice to siblings.
When the child performs the desired behaviours, he or she gets to put a sticker on the chart for the day. As your child accumulates a certain number of stickers, he or she can earn special incentives that are known ahead of time. These could be anything from choosing a favourite dinner, going on a special outing, watching a movie that your child has been looking forward to, or anything else he or she would enjoy.
For very young children, it can be helpful to break down the day into shorter periods to reward desired behaviours more quickly. You may want to have them be able to earn three stickers a day, for example—for the morning, afternoon, and evening. Even if they are not successful for the entire day, they can at least be rewarded for shorter periods and will gradually want to earn more and more stickers and rewards.
3. Use consistent discipline techniques :
When your children misbehave, they need to understand the specific behaviours you do not want them to do. Let them know what they are doing wrong, then provide a warning. Your explanations should be very clear and simple so that they understand exactly which were the problem behaviours.
4. Communicate with your children :
If your child is acting uncharacteristically poorly, attempt to find out what may be going on. Children tend to act out when they are being picked on at school or sense tension within the family. Try talking with them to find out if they are upset about something you are unaware of so you can address any potential problems.
5. Maintain a structured routine :
Children respond well to structure, so try to have meals and bedtime at the same time every day. When kids become overly tired, they may be more prone to acting out, so make sure they are getting enough rest.
6. Choose Your Battles:
“Why does everything have to be such a fight?” That’s something you may have asked your child a time or 10, but it’s a question worth asking yourself, too: Why does everything have to be such a fight? Is every battle you choose worth picking? Focusing on the things that matter will lessen stress for all concerned.
7. Count to 10:
The “one-two-three” method may work for some kids, but children with behavioural challenges may require extra time to collect themselves. Forcing the issue with a quick three-count will most likely backfire. Try a technique that gives everybody a little breathing room.
8. Keep Track of Transitions :
Transitions are tricky for children with special needs—and their parents too. Better to think through how you’ll manage changes of activity beforehand rather than risk a meltdown after a mismanaged one. Think about allowing extra time, warnings, and compassion as you move your child through his or her day.
9. Say What You Mean :
You know your child doesn’t always understand figures of speech, the tone of voice, or sarcasm, and you’ve probably advocated for others to be clear when communicating. But when it comes to laying down the law at home, do you sometimes forget the rules? Clear communication is important to everyone.
10. Keep Looking for a Better Way :
If you’ve found a tactic that works for your child, great! Enjoy the feeling of parenting competence while it lasts, because each new developmental change will likely require a new approach. Reading parenting books that deal specifically with special-needs behaviours can bring you a constant supply of fresh ideas and strategies
11. Set Realistic Goals :
It’s not bad to be ambitious for your child to have high hopes. But if you’re setting the bar higher regularly than your child can reach, you’re creating a constant experience of failure.
Things that can affect your child’s behaviour
- Big life changes (moving, starting
- a new school, death of a loved one, separation or divorce)
- Allergies and food intolerances
- Learning challenges
- Processing speed
- Learning style
- Feeling unsafe
- Vision and hearing problems
- Medical conditions
- Mental health diagnoses
- Activity level
- Screen Time
- Fears and worries
- Lack of routine, structure, or clear
- understanding of what comes next
- Difficulty reading social cues
- Insecurities and shame
- Difficulty expressing thoughts and feelings
- Temperament and personality type
- Developmental stage
Of course, this list is not exhaustive. It’s a place to start