Problem children, or kids with behavioral issues, can make day-to-day life challenging. Even the most levelheaded parents may find their child becomes difficult from time to time, but parents should never ignore even the small changes in behavior. Habits can form very quickly and these changes may suggest underlying issues such as mental disorders. With proper behavioral therapy techniques, parents can overcome them and avoid the possible negative long-term effects.
Got Problem Children? Here Are Tips to Deal with Them
1. Improve Parent-Child Interaction by Understanding the Three Key Components of Behavior Management
When it comes to dealing with problem children, parents have the ability to react in the proper manner to minimize the behavior at that moment. Consistency matters here simply because it helps parents to set the tone for what happens when bad behavior occurs.
To do this, parents should have a behavior management plan ready to go. Here are the three key components:
What Comes Before It: Antecedents
Understanding the factors leading up to the behavior are essential. These factors can determine if a negative behavior is going to happen. This is the trigger.
Parents need to learn what their child’s triggers are, which can differ between children and situations. Regardless, by understanding the antecedents or triggers, it is possible to anticipate what is to come. Most importantly, it gives parents the ability to potentially prevent the onslaught.
The Behavior Itself
Identify the behavior specifically. What is happening? Instead of stating the behavior of the problem children as “poor” or “a bad attitude,” it is necessary to define what happened.
Within a behavior management plan, the goal here is to identify the behaviors. These are the specific actions the parent wants to avoid happening again.
What are the target behaviors right now? There are three things to consider. First, they should be very specific. They should also be something parents can observe happening. Lastly, they should have some type of measurable component. Behaviors can be good or bad.
What Should Happen After?: The Consequences
Consequences are the result of the behavior. It is possible for them to have a positive or a negative reaction. In all situations, what happens now will impact the long-term results.
A child will learn what his or her parent does after a bad behavior occurs. He or she will continue to behave in a negative way knowing what the consequence is. It is also important to recognize how soon the consequence should be. When it happens immediately, it has a more specific and direct result.
2. Do Not Ignore These Possible Warning Signs
Problem children do not suddenly happen. Sometimes the behaviors are due to issues with the children’s health. For example, they may be children with autism or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
If there are no underlying reasons affecting their health and well-being, the children may be exhibiting a problem behavior. Noticing it can help parents to develop a solution for it sooner.
Here are some common behaviors not to overlook and why:
Ignoring the Parent
Pretending not to hear a parent is a problem. If a child knows the parent will call out four or more times, they will learn to wait for the next time instead of taking action the first time.
To avoid this, instead of calling out across the room, walk to the child. Provide specific information clearly. Touch the child’s shoulder to get his or her attention. There is no benefit to being angry but be clear.
It may be fun to play a rough-and-tumble type with a parent, but this can be problematic later. It is important to notice subtle aggressive behaviors such as throwing their toddler toys and stop them immediately.
Laughing at it or not taking action is not ideal. It communicates to the child that the behavior is acceptable. Parents instead need to confront the child right away about this. Pulling the problem children to the side and explaining why the action is not okay is a good first step.
Exaggerating or Lying
When the problem children exaggerate actions, they are learning that the parent does not care about the details. Small exaggerations can encourage a child to lie over and over. Because lying is a type of learned behavior, over time, it can become automatic.
As soon as a child fibs, take action. One of the interventions is to pull the child to the side to discuss his or her behavior. Talk about why storytelling is never a good idea. Discuss the consequences of the actions. It is also important to be very specific about the outcomes here.
Displaying Some Attitude
Another key concern has to do with “attitude.” Kids with problem behaviors can sometimes have one.
Being snippy or talking back is not a funny behavior, so do not encourage it. Allowing older children to get sassy can encourage negative behavior on an ongoing basis.
It is common for parents to ignore it, but dealing with it is a better solution. Discuss the behavior. Talk about why it is happening and what it means. Talk about how it is a sign of disrespect, and being disrespectful can have serious outcomes later.
3. Minimize the Outcome by Focusing on Prevention
It is not always obvious that a behavior is a bad thing. A mistake which parents can make is assuming the child understands the expectations of the parent. Sometimes they do not know or understand fully what a parent expects.
Another mistake parents can make is simply requiring the child to quickly move from task to task without warning or guidance. For example, a child is playing with another in a toddler pool. Suddenly, the parent says it is time to leave.
Instead of creating a potential breakdown, parents can provide a warning such as stating, “We are leaving in five minutes.” This helps the child to prepare for what is to come.
4. Communicate Properly
With problem children, communicating clearly is important. Yelling instructions or directions is not effective.
Instead, parents who get to eye level with the child and communicate calmly get their point across more effectively. This also creates an impactful moment. The child remembers what the parent said.
It is also important to communicate at a pace the child can understand. It may be helpful to give the instructions one by one, for instance.
5. Manage Consequences
One of the ways to deal with problem children is to provide the consequences and do them when necessary. These consequences must be immediate and match the action to be effective. For example, limiting the access to the Internet may be ideal if the child will not eat because he or she is busy with browsing.
Problem children can exhibit the negative behaviors anytime and anywhere, including the grocery store. Howcast shows how to deal with them in this video:
There are problem children, and they can be your own kid. Managing them may be difficult, but the bad behaviors are highly preventable. Understanding the root cause and dealing with it as soon as they occur while doing all these with love can help children overcome these unideal actions.
Have you dealt with problem children? What did you do to correct the negative behavior? Let us know in the comments section below!