Every parent has to deal with their child’s inappropriate or downright frustrating behaviour from time to time. Acting out or misbehaving is completely normal behaviour in a child who may not have the ability to express their emotions in other ways. However, if misbehaving or disturbing behaviour persist over time, and doesn’t appear to have a cause, such as the loss of a loved one, divorce or break up of parents, addition of a sibling, etc. then your child’s behaviour may warrant an evaluation.
Symptoms & signs of concerning behaviour issues in children
Children’s behaviour that will cause stress, frustration, and/or concern in parents and caregivers include:
- Behaving disrespectfully
- Sleep and/or bedtime issues
- Being withdrawn from others
- Being destructive to others or to property
- Temper tantrums/anger management issues
- Inability to regulate emotions
There are also diagnoses of behaviour disorders including:
- Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Oppositional defiance disorder (ODD)
- Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
- Conduct disorder
- Anxiety disorders (social anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder)
- Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Bipolar disorder
- Eating disorders
- Other mental health or mood disorders
When is it time to get help?
Regardless of whether your child has a formal diagnosis of a behaviour disorder or you are going through a spell where you feel your child is out of control, you may benefit from some support from a therapist. It’s important to seek help early as these kinds of behaviours, left untreated, can lead to bigger problems later in life.
Treatment methods for behaviour issues in children
Treatment can have several options: support can be for you, for you and your partner, for your child, for you and your child, or for the entire family, depending on your child’s and family’s needs. Every individual and every situation is different.
Some common treatment methods for children (and adults) with behaviour disorders include:
- Behavioural therapy tends to view human beings and behaviour with the assumption that humans are a product of their sociocultural conditioning and environment, looking at the current problems and the factors influencing them and emphasizes behaviour changes more than the underlying unconscious processes.
- Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based approach to treatment that focuses on how people’s thoughts, emotions, and beliefs influence their behaviour and how they perceive themselves.
- Mindfulness therapy is an approach to treatment that focuses on how people’s thoughts, emotions, and beliefs influence their behaviour and how they perceive themselves, others, and the world. The ability to be in the moment, to acknowledge and regulate your emotions helps you to break free from negative thought patterns.
- Family systems therapy looks at the family as one emotional unit. This therapeutic approach looks at the relationships within the family and the structure as a whole.
- Play therapy refers to a large number of treatment methods, all of which make use of one or more of the natural benefits of play, using toys, dolls, games, etc. Play allows children a safe psychological distance from their problems and allows them to express their true thought and feelings in ways best suited to their developmental level.
Your therapist will talk with you about whether or not an assessment for a behaviour disorder is recommended and also what type of treatment makes the most sense for your child’s individual circumstances.
What will I get out of treatment with Insight Psychological?
Working with one of our therapists who specialize in child therapy and parenting issues can be beneficial to your child, you, and your family. We can help you with strategies to manage your child’s problematic behaviour and help them to manage and self regulate their behaviours as well. We can explain the difference between typical behaviours versus behaviours that are cause for concern, and if your child is dealing with a disorder, our therapists can provide additional support to help you to cope with the disorder.
We’d be honoured to provide support to you and your child. We offer in-person or online counselling for children’s behavioural issues at our many locations in Alberta. Contact us to learn more or to book an appointment.