Responding to Challenging Behavior

Responding to Challneging Behavior


What’s challenging for you? Is it your kids not listening? Constant fighting between siblings? Are you struggling with rude behavior?

Young children are just beginning to figure out how to navigate their world and find themselves often frustrated, overwhelmed, or angry, with little ability to name – let alone express their feelings in constructive ways.

Young children usually don’t know why they’re behaving in certain ways. That’s because not only do they lack the ability to articulate their feelings, they are often at a loss for how to identify their needs – both emotional and physical.

Children’s emotional needs are usually the hardest for them to vocalize or identify. Instead, their behavior speaks for them and communicates to us that something is not right, or their needs are not being met.

There is always a reason for problem behavior. The purpose may be to get someone’s attention, to stop an activity they don’t like, to gain sensory pleasure, or because they have not learned the appropriate skill. Repeated challenging behavior is your child’s way of sending a very loud message!

This is where parenting can be downright difficult. You’ll need to take a critical look at your role in dealing with your child’s behavior. If behavior is a form of communication, consider if you might be contributing to your child’s behavior. Do you have a sense of what they’re trying to communicate to you? Do you maybe need to deal with their behaviors differently? Can you shift your focus from punishment to support as you respond to the behaviors that occur?

Once parents interpret and understand what children are communicating through their behavior and address the underlying issues your child will no longer need to communicate it through their behavior. Once the meaning behind the behavior is understood you can respond better to your child’s challenging behaviors in ways that are more likely to de-escalate the situation while teaching alternate behaviors they need to be successful.

In order to do this, you’ll also need to know and understand your child for the individual they are. You’ll need to understand your child’s temperament, strengths, interests, and concerning behaviors. When you respect and appreciate your kids for the different individuals they are rather than trying to change them, you can meet their unique needs. When you learn to understand your children in this way they no longer have to act out to communicate and get the attention they need and deserve.

We all want to raise kids who are happy, productive and can cope with real life. That’s the goal of parenting, right?

Without understanding that behavior is communication, challenging behavior will continue to re-occur despite your best attempts to change it.

For your child’s optimal growth and development you’ll need to proactively address challenging behavior and take the compassionate view. See the behavior through your child’s perspective, understand the communication, and meet their physical and emotional needs. Only then can you give them what they are really craving when they act out, your support.

Changing patterns of behavior is hard and it can be confusing to try new things.

If you can relate to any of this information and want to learn more about how I can help you, or if you want to schedule a free phone conversation to see if my work is right for your family, please email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Heart of Connecting

My work is dedicated to supporting parents and early childhood educators in understanding and reducing challenging behavior in young children at home and in the preschool classroom.

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