Children and Behavioral Problems

A new school year can sometimes bring up past concerns about your child’s behavior or raise new ones. Some parents first notice behavioral changes over the summer, after spending more time with their child. To many parents’ surprise, instead of enjoying time off from school, their child appears depressed, angry and irritable. Parents may be alarmed to find their child argues about doing chores, fights with siblings and disobeys household rules. There is concern that the child’s behavioral problems may interfere with doing well in school.

Many parents hope their child’s behavioral problems are a “passing phase.” They believe the child will “straighten out” over time. Some parents feel relief over their child’s return to school, and believe that “getting back to routine” will return their child to normal. Other parents feel angry and frustrated. They may be confused where to turn to resolve their child’s difficulties.

Early Intervention Helps

Children who have behavioral problems need to have their problems properly diagnosed. Teachers sometimes point out problems when the child misbehaves at school. Learning disorders, attention-deficit and hyperactivity, for example, are a few of the many problems that can cause a child’s behavior to become out-of-control. In addition, many parents are surprised to learn that children, like adults, can suffer from emotional problems, such as depression and stress. Some children worry too much, and will even take on the worries of their parents. Other children seem at risk for being overly moody and sad.

Because parents feel responsible for their children, they sometimes blame themselves. Parents need to recognize that many child behavioral problems, such as hyperactivity and depression, are not anyone’s fault. Behavioral problems are warning signs, not necessarily a reflection of poor parenting skills. Rather than wait for their child to magically “outgrow” these problems, good parents recognize when their child is in trouble and try to do something about it.

Here are some common warning signs that might indicate your child would benefit from professional help:

Your child:

  • Cries frequently and rarely seems happy.
  • Complains frequently about aches and pains.
  • Sleeps poorly, sleeping either too much or too little.
  • Lacks interest in friends and hobbies.
  • Seems constantly restless, edgy and fidgety.
  • Does poorly in school.
  • Often seems keyed-up, as if “driven by a motor.”
  • Is unable to sit still, pay attention or follow instructions.
  • Constantly interrupts, is unable to wait his turn, and cannot stop talking.
  • Frequently becomes irritable and angry.
  • Fights with siblings, peers and parents.
  • Shows interest in drugs or alcohol.
  • Talks about death and dying.
  • Lacks confidence; low self-esteem.

Parents should know that help is available. No matter how good a parent you are, special parenting skills may be required for children with seemingly unmanageable behavioral problems. The best advice is for parents to seek professional help to determine the nature of the child’s problems and what can be done about them.

Call the Bricklayers’ Member Assistance Program (MAP) to confidentially speak to a licensed mental health professional regarding assistance with behavioral problems in children. Call toll-free at 1-888-880-8222