5 Ways to Fix a Child’s Challenging Behavior

If you're struggling with your child's behavior, here are five approaches to try as you start fresh for the new year.

Is your child demonstrating some challenging behaviors? Don’t let them seep into the new year. Instead, try one of these five approaches to start fresh.

Before you brainstorm solutions, ask a load of questions!

Behavior is communication. It is a way for our kids (and maybe our spouses) to communicate an unmet need. Often it’s unconscious but sometimes it’s conscious and our child can’t communicate it in a more effective way. In toddler meltdowns, or teenager meltdowns (pretty similar when you think about it!), our little ones haven’t yet mastered their language skills or our older ones have language deficits or struggle labeling their emotions.

Before you focus on a punishment or a consequence, determine whether your child is able to change the challenging behavior.

Ask yourself, is my child over-tired, over-stimulated or very frustrated? Is there something you can do the next time around to prevent that from happening or simply be more accepting and understanding of this behavior when it happens?

Can you share your expectations in a clearer way?

Does your child know what you expect of them? Yes, even older kids and teens benefit from these reminders and clarity. Sometimes we let our guard down as our child grows older and think our tweens, for example, “should just know how to behave.” Is this a new activity or environment? Are they a bit “out of shape” in these settings due to the last two-ish years of pandemic living? A refresher on expectations will not hurt anyone.

Are you considering your child’s individual needs and limitations?

When training educators, camp counselors, mental health professionals and parents, I often talk about determining whether our expectations are age appropriate. For example, if you are comparing your 4-year-old to your best mom friend’s 4.8-year-old, that may be unfair to your kid. Young kids change and develop rapidly, and months can make a difference. We need to know our kids, what makes them awesome and what about them may keep you up at night and scares the living daylight out of you (it’s cool, we’ve all been there). It helps to cut our own frustration levels when we know what our kids aren’t so great at, and therefore we can reframe our own expectations.

Keep trying!

As I shared in the final chapter of my new book, I Love My Kids But I Don’t Always Like Them, great parents fail constantly! They fail so often because they try so often. Keep trying new things. Something will stick and then it may stop working, so you’ll try something else and find another “assist” in the hardest job we will ever love — parenting.

Franki Bagdade is a West Bloomfield mom of three who has spent more than 20 years working with children with extra needs, non-traditional learning environments and everything in between. She is the founder of FAAB Consulting. Her new book, I Love My Kids But I Don’t Always Like Them, is now available. Follow her on Instagram @faabparenting.

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