A Behavior Problem in Children

Are you worried about a behavior problem in children? What behavior problem worries you?

Do you worry about a child who finds it difficult to learn or pay attention in school? What about the child who lacks self-esteem or seems anxious or unusually shy and withdrawn? Does a child you care about seem depressed or unhappy? Or do you worry about a child who has difficulty getting along with his peers?

Find out about Dr. O'Connor's  Psychological Assessments and other services  . They can help you learn more about the behavior problem in children that concerns you, and how to help.

Child problems span a range of concerns. These include learning, social and emotional problems, as well as behavior problems. Some children externalize their problems and show poor impulse control. They may act out in an angry, aggressive manner. Children who exhibit internalizing problems may appear withdrawn or passive and anxious and depressed.

Remember "Understanding the Problem is the Key to Solving It." Dr. O'Connor's Psychological Assessments, and other services, can increase your understanding of child problems and how to help. 

Read the information below to increase your understanding of what contributes to child problems and what you can do to help.

What Contributes to a Behavior Problem in Children?

Although many people are quick to blame parents for problem behaviors in children, multiple factors often interact to contribute to and maintain the child behavior problem.

The child's behavior, for example, can influence how others feel about him and how they behave toward him. A parent, for example, may find it hard to interact in a positive manner with a difficult child. Problem behaviors in children can also negatively effect the mood and the parenting behaviors of the parent.

In addition, problem behaviors contribute to significant stress in parents, teachers and others who are involved with the child. The behavior of problem children can also precipitate negative events, which contribute further to the child's problems.

Although ineffective parenting can contribute to child behavior problems, so too can a host of other interacting factors. These include the child's temperament, family problems and stress, as well as genetics.

We need to move beyond the view that parents are to blame for all their child's problems. Similarly, we need to realize that genes are not the only important factor either. The child's environment, including the parents' attachment and parenting style, can interact with genetic factors to contribute to child problems.

Children with behavior problems are a product of both nature and nurture. A complex interaction between the child and his environment shapes his behavior and how he perceives his world and the threats and challenges he encounters. The environment not only influences the child's behavior, and the brain development behind it, but the way his/her brain develops as a result of social, and other environmental factors, will, in turn, influence his/her behavior, and how others react to him/her. Children will often adopt unhealthy coping or defensive behaviors to cope with the stressors in their lives, which, in turn, can contribute to behavior problems.  

Do Children Outgrow Their Behavior Problems?

A behavior problem in children is of concern to parents, and others who work with the child. They want to know if the child will outgrow the problem and what they can do to help.

Research suggests that some behavior problems in children do persist beyond childhood. In one study of children with behavioral and emotional problems, for example, approximately 40 % of the children had problems in adulthood. However, the good news is-60 % did not (Hofstra, Vander Ende, & Verhulst). Consequenlty, a behavior problem in childhood does not doom most children to a life of problematic and difficult behaviors.

What Increases the Odds that a Child Will Overcome Child Behavior Problems?

Problems are likely to persist into adulthood for children who have severe behavior problems and receive little or no help to address them. On the other hand, children who receive support and exhibit other protective factors are more likely to overcome child behavior problems.

How To Help With a Behavior Problem in Children?

  1. Seek professional support if you are having difficulty coping with a child's behavior. A child psychologist can help you decide whether a child's behavioral concerns warrant further attention.
  2. If you are unsure whether professional support is required view our article Warning Signs of Child Behavior Problems. It can help you decide whether a behavior problem in children warrants further concern or is "just a stage" the child will outgrow.
  3. Or find out about  Dr. O'Connor's Services and how they can help increase your understanding  of child problems, and how to help with a behavior problem in children.
  4. Click here to learn more about behavior problems in children and how to help.


Resources Referred to on This Page

Hofstra, M.B., Van der Ende, J. & Verhuulst, F.C. (2000). Continuity and change of psychopathology from chidlhood into adulthood. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 39, 850-858.