When a child misbehaves or exhibits behavior that becomes problematic, their behavior is telling you something, but what?
A child that misbehaves is trying to communicate that they have an unmet need, but how do parents determine what that need is?
Parents can look for clues that might tell them how the child is feeling. When parents figure out what is wrong or missing, they can then follow to assist the child to take care of themselves.
What are some of the reasons that a child might misbehave?
They may be hungry, tired, ill or bored.
They might not know or understand what is expected of them.
They might be held to expectations that are beyond their developmental level.
They may have experienced trauma or abuse.
They may be copying the bad behavior or their parents or someone else.
They may be trying to cover up feelings of pain, fear or loneliness.
They may be experiencing feelings that are overwhelming to them.
They may feel bad about themselves.
They may be experiencing bullying.
They may be experiencing dietary issues.
They may be trying to get attention from others.
They may be testing whether parents will set limits, boundaries and enforce rules.
They may be asserting themselves and seeking to be independent.
They may have an untreated disorder such as:
Attention Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder
Autism Spectrum Disorder
Obsessive compulsive disorder
General anxiety disorder.
Sensory processing disorder
It is important to remember that misbehavior does not mean that a child is “bad.” They should never be labeled as such. There is a difference between a child’s character and how they behave. What a child does is not who they are.
Maybe you’re frustrated and having difficulty determining why your child is misbehaving. Maybe you have an idea of why your child is misbehaving but don’t know how to approach the issue. Maybe you’re wondering if your child has an untreated disorder. If so, call us at Wasatch Family Therapy (801.944.4555) to schedule an appointment for a parent consultation with one of our trained providers. Mental health is just as important as physical health to a child’s well being.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a topic that comes up frequently throughout my week; as a school psychologist in an elementary school, teachers often refer students for suspected problems with attention and concentration, hyperactivity, and impulse control difficulties. In my outpatient practice, I’m on the ‘other side’ of this equation, meeting with families often referred from school teams for suspected problems of this nature. Typically, these referrals seem appropriate and everyone is on the same page. Occasionally, the members are not. As in, ‘my child’s teacher told me my child has ADD and needed accommodations! Now what?!’ It gave me pause and consideration for this weeks blog. Just who can and can’t diagnosis ADHD ? What might an assessment for ADHD include? Should school staff be bringing this subject up to parents to begin with? And, is it ADD or ADHD ?