It is expected that as children grow up, they will display problematic behavior. Parents, however, have to repeatedly remind themselves that it is all part of the process and continue to be patient and understanding as they tell their children to behave. Overreacting to minor incidents only aggravates the situation, leading to resentment and guilt.
Nonetheless, there are some child behavior problems that parents should not ignore or treat lightly, especially if these become habitual or negatively affect the child’s functioning. In such instances, early intervention is needed to ensure that this does not escalate to something more problematic.
Child Behavior Problems that Parents Should Address
1) Disrespectful Attitude
While it is good for children to speak up for themselves, when this is done in a disrespectful and defiant way, it is time for parents to rein them in. When unchecked, this will cause further problems as children will wrongly believe that their rights are always more important than the rights of others.
2) Temper Tantrums
Temper tantrums are to be expected among very young children since they have not yet learned how to properly control their emotions, especially during very stressful times. Frequent tantrums, however, or tantrums in much older children should be addressed, as they may lead to harm towards others.
3) Violence and Bullying
Violence towards self, others, or property should never be taken lightly, even if such are just expressed and not actually done. Even as a child, serious consequences may occur if a child decides to follow through on their threats.
Said child may even become the victim if others decide to retaliate. When not addressed early, such violent behavior can lead to bullying and other forms of juvenile delinquency. In cases of self-harm, serious injury or suicide may result.
4) Ignoring Others
Though some parents may be thankful for a moment’s peace and quiet, constantly ignoring others is another behavior that needs to be dealt with. Whether the ones being ignored are classmates, parents, or others, it is important for children to learn to respectfully respond to people lest they grow up socially impaired or defiant.
Though it is frowned upon, lying is one way of self-preservation to hide certain emotions, thoughts, or actions from others. While it is expected for a child to lie once in a while, lying should always be confronted.
If not, communication will break down and it will be difficult for parents to tell if their child is really in trouble and needs help. Constant lying may even cause identity confusion as the child may have resorted to lying about who they are just to impress others.
Similar to lying, it is quite common for young children to take things that are not theirs as they are not yet aware of moral rules. But once informed that stealing is wrong, parents need to step in every time their child steals or attempts to steal, even if it is something of little worth. If not, their thievery will become even more serious.
7) School Refusal
While it is normal for children to not always like school, parents need to do their best to convince them that school is important and can even be fun. Without this change in mindset, school will become burdensome, adversely affecting their future.
8) Lack of Motivation
Whether it is at school or at home, the lack of motivation is never okay. Though they might not be bothering anyone, children need to understand that success in life requires hard work. If parents let this slide, by doing homework and chores for their child, the result will be a spoiled brat or a lazy bum.
9) Substance Use
In this liberal age, experimentation with substances is quite common, even among elementary kids, because media and various celebrities have made it “cool.” This, of course, should be of great concern to all parents since alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs may damage their immature bodies.
Moreover, such usage is illegal and which may land them in trouble with the authorities; the risk of eventual substance abuse is much higher than if the children discovered such things when they got older.
10) Early Sexualized Behavior
As with substance abuse, media has exposed children today to a lot of sexual talk and behavior. The topic of crushes, kisses, and sex are often discussed among peers, jokingly and then seriously. Parents need to address signs of early sexualized behavior as such actions and talk can lead to very serious, unwanted results.
What Parents Should Do
After calming down and praying over the problem, parents need to discover what the true root of the problem is since not all things are always as they seem. Every one of the above mentioned problems can have other underlying issues.
Sometimes factors like peer pressure, bullying at school, cyber bullying, or other unknown forms of abuse or coercion can be behind these unwanted actions. In some situations, this pressure comes from the home due to sibling rivalry, perfectionist parents, or even absentee parenting.
Mental issues like ADHD, anxiety, autism, depression, and others are also possible reasons why children act the way they do. Many kids today are also struggling with identity issues that cause them to act negatively. So rather than panicking or automatically berating their children for being such bad apples, parents ought to look closer at the situation to see if there is something more.
When to Seek Christian Counseling for Child Behavior Problems
Sometimes child behavior problems can be solved after the parents and their child have had a heart to heart talk, especially if the family is the source of the problem. With love and encouragement from the parents, the child may be able to overcome their bad behavior. But in other instances, professional help is needed, particularly if the child has desires to hurt themself or others, or is already breaking the law.
In Christian counseling, sound counseling methods will be used to help the child discover and confront their underlying issues. But most importantly, the Christian counselor will connect them to our Lord Jesus Christ who can give them the love and strength they need to face their fears and deal with their problem. And in cases of lack of self-esteem or self-hate, it is only Christ who can give them true peace and inner acceptance.
Christian counseling is also available to help the family dynamics, between parents and child or between rival siblings. This is particularly important if open communication and acceptance are not experienced at home.
If you or a family you know is experiencing serious issues with a child’s behavior, seek help soon. Children are precious wards from God who are meant to be loved and protected, not despised and forsaken.
“Problem Child”, Courtesy of Patrice Audet, Pixabay.com, CC0 License; “Crying Boy”, Courtesy of Pixabay, Pexels.com, CC0 License; “Fearful Boy”, Courtesy of Igor Ovsyannykov, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Curbside chat,” courtesy of Sebastian Leon Prado, unsplash.com, CC0 License