What Is Difficult Child Behaviour?

Most of us have strong opinions on how to guide our children’s behaviour. Unfortunately, these opinions often focus on stopping the inappropriate behaviour and neglect to give significant emphasis to helping children learn new, more appropriate ways to behave. People who work with young children have a golden opportunity and an awesome responsibility to help children learn to make appropriate behaviour choices which, in turn, can lead to enhanced self-esteem and self-discipline.

To be effective, discipline for young children must be in place before the rules are broken. As a process of guidance, discipline can be divided into two major components: indirect and direct. In the area of indirect guidance, we need to look at the organization of the environment to encourage autonomy and to empower children. As well, we need to look at the people — the teachers — who nurture and help children learn.

Lots of parents worry about their children’s active, noisy behaviour and tantrums. Sometimes it can be hard to work out whether a child’s behaviour is normal, or the sign of a behavioural disorder.

Tantrums are not usually anything to worry about. They’re a way of expressing frustration and most children have them in their early years (from age one to four). They can be loud and violent, and it’s normal to find them upsetting or embarrassing.

Sometimes, if you can tell your child is about to have a tantrum, you may be able to distract her by getting her to look at something or giving a favourite toy.

Young children, especially those aged five and below, are often energetic, noisy and excitable. Usually this liveliness is quite normal.

Sometimes, active and noisy children can be quite a handful, talking all the time, not doing as they’re told and seeming very restless. This kind of overactive behaviour is more usual among boys. Although this can be hard to deal with, it’s only when a child’s behaviour is extreme that it suggests a behavioural disorder.

All children are naughty – scribbling on walls, fighting with siblings, cheekiness and ignoring requests are all part and parcel of growing up. Sometimes this behaviour is isolated to one-off incidents, or it may be a phase your child is going through.

Naughty behaviour may be caused by your child testing your reaction to find out what’s allowed or triggered by a change in her environment (eg worries about school). It may be down to jealousy of a sibling or it may be a way to attract your attention.