Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Challenging Behaviors may not be Intentional

All children argue with adults and other children from time to time. It’s a part of growing up and learning to be independent. As parents, we might think our children intentionally argue with everything we say, but the problem may be more complicated. Louise Davis, Mississippi State University Extension Child and Family Development Specialist says the reasons could be beyond the child’s control.

Most children (like many adults) become more irritable and difficult to deal with when they are tired or hungry. So one of the first steps to addressing behavior issues is to follow a schedule and make sure children are getting plenty of rest, exercise and regular, healthy meals. Negative behaviors tend to increase when children are tired, hungry, stressed or upset. Find out what may be causing your child stress and talk about ways he or she can manage it.

Davis also says that children may not understand the adults around them. If children are not following directions, parents may need to explain the expected behavior or task more clearly. This includes clearly stating consequences that mean something to your child and that you will follow through on.

Parents should also consider whether their expectations are reasonable for the developmental age of the child. An example would be expecting a two-year-old the sit still during adult church services. If the same method of guidance is producing the same negative results, then parents need to change what they are doing or saying to improve the outcome.

So when your child’s behavior needs guidance, stop for a minute and ask WHY your child is behaving that way, and what will work best to help him or her control their behavior.

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