If your kid is growing up and acting out a little, have no fear; they are probably just going through a few of the common behavior problems of children that are much more common than you think. Kids go through rough patches just like adults, and it’s important to recognize these rough patches so you’re not alarmed or you don’t feel like you’re a bad parent. Many people are quick to judge the parents when they see a child exhibiting unwanted behavior. That’s why it’s important to be a little informed in the area of child development. By learning a few common behavior problems of children that most children exhibit, you as a parent or bystander can be informed and understanding of the child’s behavior.
One of the most common behavior problems of children is regression. When a child regresses, they act as they did when they were younger. Have you ever seen a 4 year old throw a temper tantrum like a 2 year old? Did it cross your mind that the kid was way too old to act that way? Well, they were regressing. It’s very common for kids to regress, especially if emotions are running high.
I’m sure you’ve seen a child throw a fit when they were separated from a parent. It usually stops when the child feels a little bit more comfortable and less anxious when separating from a parent. Clinging is normal and unbelievably common; as a matter of fact, I just saw a little girl clinging to her mom in Target yesterday!
Sleep disturbances happen when children have bad dreams or fears at night, and they constantly want to sleep with their caregivers, or they can’t seem to sleep at all. This doesn’t seem like a behavioral problem, but it could be considered a problem to many parents if it doesn’t stop after a few nights.
Fears are very common among young children, which can sometimes disturb their daily schedules. Many times these fears are pretty extreme. For example, some kids refuse to take baths because they are afraid they will be sucked down the drain with the bathwater. To reduce some of these fears, many parents just explain things to them, and that seems to work a lot of the time.
Negativism is when a child says “No,” over, and over, and over again! “No” is all they know! Have you ever offered a kid candy and they frowned at you, said “no,” and still took it anyway? It happens more often than you'd think!
Lying is a common behavioral problem that really gets to parents. When their children lie to them, they believe they’re raising delinquents. Don’t think that way! It’s not unusual for children to lie; it’s a common behavior problem that many caregivers face. However, it’s very important to carefully distinguish the difference between lying and fantasy. A child may have imaginary friends, and it could be devastating to them if they’re accused of lying about their friend that is very real to them.
Finally, there’s rebellion. Many children, especially school-aged children, love to test their limits with their parents. They like to see how far they can go without getting into too much trouble or sacrificing what they value. Rebellion is normal, and if it doesn’t occur when the child is younger, parents should definitely expect it in the teenage years!
In no way do I encourage parents and caregivers to ignore or accept unacceptable behavior. However, I do believe there’s value in knowing what is typical and atypical of child behavior. So now that you know a few of the common behavior problems that children exhibit as they develop, you can either be prepared for when they arrive, or you can rest assured that it’s perfectly normal behavior that you shouldn’t feel reflects yours or another person’s parenting. Your child may never experience any of these behavior problems, but it’s always good to know what’s typical, so you can be prepared if they do. Do you know of any kids who’ve been through any of these stages? Share your experiences.
Watson, D. (1992). Psychology. Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole Publishing Company.
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