Concerning Behavior vs. Typical Behavior: How to tell if your child may need extra support
Understanding a child’s behavior can sometimes be tricky. You may ask yourself if the concerning behavior is developmentally appropriate or if there are underlying issues that are being expressed by this behavior. But how does one tell? Ask yourself these following questions to determine if the concerning behavior is typical or if it is something more.
1. Are my child’s behaviors interrupting or getting in the way of their day-to-day functioning?
A tantrum, procrastinating getting ready in the morning or going to sleep at night, and/or avoiding chores or homework can be typical. However, if this behavior happens daily, or multiple days a week, for many weeks without successful redirection or reduction of frequency may be worth looking into with the help of a professional.
2. Does my child get enough sleep, exercise and nutrition?
Adequate sleep, exercise and nutrition are vital for healthy and emotionally regulated children. If you feel your child is lacking in any of these areas, set some goals to make sure these needs are met. If they are still struggling with their behaviors you may want to seek outside help.
3. Is my child staying focused when they need to?
Of course children get distracted. But if frequent unfocusing is preventing them from getting their homework, chores, or other important tasks done each week, it may indicate a mental health problem.
4. Does my child change moods for no apparent reason?
While children and parents can have bad days, some rapid mood changes may be out of character. If you are noticing that obvious changes in mood are happening frequently, there could be an underlying mental health issue.
5. Is my child flexible with changes to their routine or new situations?
Is my child flexible with changes to their routine or new situations? Most parents may hear “I don’t want to” and “no” at some point when it comes to a changing or new situation, but if it feels like a struggle whenever something unexpected happens, it’s worth looking into further.
6. Has something scary or violent happened to my child?
Trauma can affect children and adults very differently. When children experience an event that is extremely upsetting or violent, they can develop symptoms and behaviors that may need specialized treatment as they may be trying to control their world around them or find safety.
You know your children best...
parents and caregivers are in the ideal position to observe and consider their children’s behavior, as well as advocate for them. Communicating what you know and asking yourself these questions may be able to provide you with a guideline of the next step. The earlier you raise concerns, the easier it is to reduce symptoms and improve your child’s well-being. Just like your child’s physical health, there is a certain time when you may need to get a professional’s help. There is no shame in asking for extra support! Book with a clinician today to address these behaviors.
Kenedee provides support to children, teens, adults, and families. Kenedee is passionate about building upon one’s strengths, encouraging self-advocacy, and empowering oneself to live a full and authentic life.