When it’s more than just challenging behaviour

When it’s more than just challenging behaviour

All parents are faced with ‘less-than-ideal’ behaviour from their children every once and a while. This can include physical aggression, rudeness and disrespect. But there is a possibility that your child is struggling with a behavioural disorder. Here are three of the most common ones and what you can do to get in control of this type of behaviour.

For more behaviour techniques, check out our story on Behavioural Busters.

Oppositional defiant disorder

Approximately one in ten children under the age of 12 are thought to have oppositional defiant disorder (ODD). Typical behaviours of children with ODD include:

  • Easily angered, frustrated, annoyed or irritated
  • Frequent temper tantrums
  • Argumentative and refuses to obey rules
  • Seems to deliberately try to annoy or aggravate others
  • Low self-esteem and often blames others

Conduct disorder

Approximately five per cent of 10 year olds are thought to have CD, with boys outnumbering girls by four to one. Typical behaviours include:

  • Aggressiveness and physical violence
  • Lack of empathy for others
  • Repeated truancy
  • Frequent lying and criminal-like behaviour

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

Approximately two to five per cent of children are thought to have ADHD. Characteristics include:

  • Difficulty concentrating, forgetting instructions and inattention
  • Impulsivity
  • Overactivity, constantly restless and fidgeting

There is really no way to know whether your child has a behavioural disorder unless you get an assessment from a qualified paediatrician, psychologist or child psychiatrist. Treatment options include parent management training, cognitive behaviour therapy, medication and treatment for associated problems.

Overcoming Behavioural Problems – Dos and Donts

  • DO try and focus on positive behaviours, and praise these often.
  • DO ignore small, irritating behaviours.  You really do need to pick your battles, otherwise it would be exhausting!
  • DO set yourself up for success.  If you have trouble with your child at the supermarket, tell them your expectations in advance (e.g., “You’ll stay with mummy, and we’re only buying what’s on the list.”), involve them in the process (e.g., giving them their own shopping list, even if it’s in pictures!), and praise them along the way (“You’re doing a great job helping mummy”).
  • DON’T repeat requests frequently.  Twice is enough, then action should be taken.
  • DON’T take things personally (“I hate you, you’re the worst parent EVER!!!”).  Kids feel emotions intensely, but are still learning how to control them.
  • DON’T be too hard on yourself.  Take care of yourself in some small way every day so you’re able to remain calm and in control more often than not.
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