How Do You Know If Your Toddler Has Behavioural Problems?

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    The Most Common Behavior Disorders in Children

    Bringing up children is challenging in and of itself, but doing so with challenging children can cause significant disruption in one's life. However, it is not always easy to identify whether your child is simply passing through a stage or whether there is something wrong with them.

    Your two-year-temper old's tantrum does not necessarily indicate that they have issues with respecting authority, and your kindergartener's inability to sit still does not necessarily indicate that they have an attention impairment. When it comes to gaining a better understanding of the behaviours exhibited by our children, however, specialists recommend that diagnoses and labels be used sparingly.

    Defining "Disorders"

    Experts in child psychology from the University of Oxford and the University of Pittsburgh have stated that the term "disorder" should be used with caution for children up to the age of 5 and that they dispute whether or not it is valid. According to professors Frances Gardner and Daniel S. Shaw, there is little data to support the hypothesis that behavioural disorders in preschool constitute indications of a real condition or that problems in early childhood predict problems in later life. "There are worries about separating normal behaviour from abnormal behaviour in this age of fast developmental change," they said. "There are problems about distinguishing normal behaviour from abnormal behaviour."

    In light of the foregoing, the most effective method for addressing behavioural and emotional concerns in children of this age is the traditional one.

    Early Childhood Behavioral and Emotional Disorders

    A major behavioural disorder will only be diagnosed in a child who is younger than 5 years old on a very infrequent basis. However, there is a possibility that later in childhood they could show indications of a condition that doctors will be able to diagnose. These may include the following:

    • attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
    • oppositional defiant disorder (ODD)
    • autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
    • anxiety disorder
    • depression
    • bipolar disorder
    • learning disorders
    • conduct disorders

    You are probably familiar with a good number of these names. Others are not as common or are seldom ever brought up outside of conversations pertaining to child psychology.

    Outbursts of rage are a common feature of ODD and are frequently aimed against those in positions of power. However, a diagnosis can only be made if the behaviours in question have been ongoing for more than six months and are interfering with the functioning of the kid. Conduct disorder, on the other hand, is a far more serious diagnosis that entails behaviour that one may consider cruel to both other people and animals. This disorder is characterised by the following behaviours: This can include acts of physical violence and even criminal action, all of which are behaviours that are quite uncommon in children of preschool age.

    Autism, on the other hand, refers to a spectrum of illnesses that can have an effect on a child's development in a number of different ways, including cognitively, socially, and behaviorally. They are classified as a neurological illness, and in contrast to other types of behavioural disorders, the symptoms can appear at a much younger age, even in infants. An autistic spectrum disease affects approximately one in every 68 children in the United States, as stated by the American Psychiatric Association.

    What is ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder)

    One example of a behaviour problem is known as ODD. Children who suffer from ODD are more likely to act out. They may, for instance, throw temper tantrums, challenge adults in authority, or dispute with their friends or siblings. It's possible that these behaviours only occur at home, when the parents are there. Additionally, they could take place in different environments, such as a school. It is estimated that between 2 and 16 percent of children and adolescents of school-age are affected by ODD. ODD can present itself with symptoms as early as 2 or 3 years old in certain children. On the other hand, the most likely time for their appearance is between the ages of 6 and 8. If attention and treatment are not given to ODD in childhood, the kid may go on to have long-term and persistent issues. These problems may follow them into adulthood and persist throughout their teenage years. If you're looking for a Early Learning Centre Sydney that develops children's unique capabilities, you’re in the right place. 

    Symptoms of ODD in children?


    Children that suffer from ODD will exhibit more than one of the following behavioural symptoms:

    • inability or refusal to obey rules
    • easily frustrated or quick to lose one's temper
    • repeated and frequent temper tantrums
    • fighting with siblings or classmates
    • arguing recurrently
    • deliberately upsetting or annoying others
    • being unwilling to negotiate or compromise
    • speaking harshly or unkindly
    • defying authority
    • seeking revenge
    • being vindictive and spiteful
    • blaming others for one's behaviour

    A kid who suffers from ODD may exhibit any combination of the following symptoms, in addition to those related to behaviour:

    • difficulty concentrating
    • difficulty making friends
    • low self-esteem
    • persistent negativity

    The symptoms of ODD can ultimately impede with learning, which can make it challenging to succeed in school. In addition, the youngster may become even more frustrated as a result of difficulties at school, starting a loop that may result in additional symptoms or outbursts.

    Tips for Managing a Child with ODD

    By doing the following, parents can assist their children in coping with the symptoms of ODD:

    • taking part in family therapy if recommended by the child's psychiatrist or doctor
    • enrolling in training programs that teach parents how to manage their child's behaviour, set clear expectations, and properly provide instruction
    • using consistent discipline when warranted
    • limiting the child's exposure to environmental triggers, such as arguments
    • encouraging and modelling healthy behaviours, such as getting proper sleep (if lack of sleep is a trigger for your child's defiant behaviours, for example)

    Behaviour and Emotional Problems

    Much more likely than your young child having one of the aforementioned clinical problems is the possibility that he or she is going through a short phase of behavioural and emotional difficulties. A lot of these will go away on their own, but in the meanwhile, parents need to be patient and understanding.

    Outside counselling is required and may be useful in helping children cope with the difficulties that they are experiencing in certain situations. Your child could, for instance, learn how to better manage their anger, work through their feelings, and communicate what they need in a more clear and concise manner with the assistance of a trained expert. However, there is considerable debate regarding the practise of medicating infants of this age for a variety of reasons.

    Parenting for Childhood Success

    The manner in which a child's parents raise them is rarely to blame for behavioural issues in children. And the fact that you are looking for ways to help your family deal with the situation is a pretty solid sign that you are not the source of the problems that your child is experiencing. However, parents are still the most important factor in the treatment of behavioural problems in young children.

    Parenting Styles: Which One Is Right for You? 

    When we talk about parenting styles, there are four primary varieties to choose from; yet, only one of these methods is the most beneficial in bringing up children who are well-adjusted and well-behaved:

    • Authoritarian parenting: Strict rules with no compromise and no input from the children.
    • Authoritative parenting: Strict rules, but parents are willing to listen and cooperate with their children—more democracy than authoritarian parenting.
    • Permissive parenting: Few rules and few demands put on children. There is little to no discipline in this home, and parents typically take on friends.
    • Uninvolved parenting: No rules and very little interaction. These parents are detached and may reject or neglect their children.

    There is a strong correlation between authoritative parenting and the development of well-adjusted and content children. On the other hand, experts agree that parents who aren't involved in their children's lives are more likely to bring up youngsters who lack self-esteem, self-control, and overall competency.

    From these many approaches to parenting, we can learn that children require not only rules and penalties that are easy to understand, but also a parent who is willing to listen to them and direct them.

    Be Patient with Your Children

    When a child is having difficulty, it is essential for parents to model characteristics such as empathy, cooperation, and a calm temperament for their child. Additionally, it is essential to be aware of when to seek assistance. If your child's behaviour is becoming disruptive to the routine running of your family or their education, or if they are becoming violent, it is time to talk to a professional about your child's situation. Bringing up children who have behavioural issues is not an easy task. Get some assistance first, though, before you jump to conclusions about the child's condition or start imposing harsh rules on them. Your child's physician can shed light on whether or not the behaviours they are exhibiting are typical for their age and point you in the direction of resources that can help.

    What is normal behaviour for a child?

    The characteristics of the child, including age, personality, and level of physical and emotional development, all have a role in determining what constitutes normal behaviour in children. For instance, a child's behaviour could be a cause for concern if it doesn't live up to the standards set by the family or if it causes a disturbance. In most cases, what constitutes "normal" or "good" behaviour is determined by whether or not it is socially, culturally, and developmentally acceptable. It will be easier for you to determine whether or not the behaviour of your child is typical if you are aware of what to expect from your child at each age. Looking for an early learning centre in Sydney ? Then Little Angels early learning centre  is what you’re looking for. 

    What can I do to change my child's behaviour?

    Children have a tendency to repeat a behaviour when they are rewarded for it and to stop repeating a behaviour when they are disregarded for it. It is crucial to maintain consistency in your response to a child's behaviour because doing things like rewarding and penalising the same behaviour at various times can cause your youngster to become confused. When you are faced with the possibility that your child's behaviour could be a problem, you have three options:

    • Decide that the behaviour is not a problem because it's appropriate to the child's age and stage of development.
    • Attempt to stop the behaviour, either by ignoring it or by punishing it.
    • Introduce a new behaviour that you prefer and reinforce it by rewarding your child.

    What kinds of therapy are effective for preschool children?

    At this age, therapy aimed at treating children who have behavioural problems centres on the parents, teaching them skills to mould a child's behaviour more successfully and to reset the family ties so that they are more positively oriented.

    Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT): 

    In the Parent Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) programme, parents receive live coaching from therapists while looking through a one-way mirror. They guide youngsters aged 2 to 7 through a number of activities and practise skills for effectively setting limits and responding to behaviour that is desired as well as behaviour that is not desired. In most cases, training must consist of 14–17 sessions each week.

    Parent Management Training (PMT): 

    Even though children between the ages of 3 and 13 may be asked to participate in some sessions of PMT, parents are typically seen in this modality without the child present. Following the therapist's instruction and demonstration of methods for dealing more effectively with challenging behaviours, the parents participated in role-playing activities with the therapist. Following each class, the parents are instructed to continue practising the skills at home.

    Positive Parenting Program (Triple P): 

    Triple P is an approach to treating behavioural issues in children from toddlerhood through adolescence and fostering positive relationships between parents and their offspring. The primary goal of this programme is to provide parents with the knowledge and tools necessary to improve their level of confidence and independence in the area of regulating the behaviour of their children.

    When should you start therapy?


    The available data suggest that children are most amenable to behavioural modification by therapy up until the age of seven. Therefore, the earlier parents begin teaching their children these skills, the longer they will have this toolbox at their disposal.

    When young children exhibit behaviours that make their parents uncomfortable, a common response is to tell the parents to wait because their children will eventually outgrow the behaviour. But the fact of the matter is that when children are unable to behave in ways that are suitable for their ages, it is best not to wait. Children are constantly acquiring new knowledge, and the longer their out-of-control behaviour is allowed to continue, the more deeply ingrained it will become in their minds. The longer an unhealthy pattern of behaviour continues, the more challenging and unpleasant it is for a child's parents to try to change it.


    She goes on to say that another concern that parents may have is that they will be labelled as "helicopter parents." Parent training, on the other hand, teaches children who are difficult to manage or who are out of control how to learn skills they haven't mastered before, such as how to control their urges and respond appropriately to guidance. In addition to this benefit, it prevents them from being categorised as "problem" children.

    How can a parent know when a child might benefit from parent therapy?

    All children aged two and three are capable of throwing tantrums and rebelling against their parents' instructions. At the age of two, it is normal for children to refuse many different activities. When "no" is the only reaction you receive, and the behaviour doesn't change unless there's a large argument about it, it's time to pay attention to what's going on. When it comes to temper tantrums, the frequency of their occurrence is important, but so is the degree to which they are disruptive. If your child is having temper tantrums on a regular basis as well as full-blown tantrums, which consist of the child being unhappy, weeping for a long time, and being unable to be consoled, you may want to seek professional assistance.

    Every parent has experienced frustration to the point that they want to yank their hair out. When challenging behaviour becomes a regular thing, when it's causing difficulty in the family, when you're starting to get depressed or so stressed out that you're having difficulties liking your child, you should think about obtaining help. Other signs that indicate the need for assistance include: It is not unusual for a parent to say something along the lines of "I adore my child, but it is difficult since everything is a conflict."

    One such indication that there is a problem is if you find that you have to make changes to your lifestyle since you can't go many places, not even ones that are kid-friendly. For this reason, for instance, if you are unable to go to the supermarket because you know it will result in screaming, crying, or fighting, it may be time to seek professional assistance.

    What about kids who don't act up but don't obey orders?

    Another issue is something that behavioural therapists refer to as "passive non-compliance." This is when you tell your child to do something six, seven, or eight times, but he still does not comply with your request. When you know that he has heard what you have to say, he may respond with "one more minute," "I'm coming," "I'm playing," or simply ignore you completely. This is a problem in the long run since the child's education will be compromised if they do not comply with the requests made by their teachers. Even seemingly harmless activities, such as crossing the street, might be hazardous if the youngster does not actively comply with the request to "Please hold my hand." See our list of available early learning programs Sydney to help you make an informed decision for your child. 

    What happens in parent training?

    Programs take a variety of approaches, but what they all have in common is that they instruct parents on how to interact with their child in a way that is constructive and developmentally appropriate, how to set reasonable expectations for their child, and how to communicate those expectations in a way that increases the likelihood that their children will listen to them. When their children listen to them or disobey them, parents develop a highly consistent and predictable approach to carry out the consequences. They have so much experience that the answer becomes second nature to them, and as a result, they are able to respond appropriately even when faced with uncertain circumstances or circumstances that appear to be exceptional.

    What if my child's behaviour is caused by attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or sensory processing disorder?

    Your child might not be able to sit still if they have sensory difficulties (also known as sensory processing disorder or SPD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Children who suffer from SPD and ADHD frequently struggle to maintain their own self-control. Because of this, parenting may become more difficult. Children who suffer from these conditions frequently do not react favourably to either rewards or punishments.

    The majority of the time, parenting a child who has ADHD and SPD needs you to focus first on the child's feelings and then on the child's behaviour. There is a wide variety of approaches that may be taken to assist in teaching a child with ADHD or SPD how to manage their feelings. These include deep pressure, emotional level charts, and breathing exercises, all of which are designed to help calm the individual. You should wait until your child is calm before beginning to explain why their behaviour was not suitable or what you were expecting from them. They might eventually start to learn how to self-regulate their emotions as time goes on. It's possible that this will help with behaviour.

    Things to consider

    When it comes to correcting misbehaviour in their children, some parents resort to the use of physical punishment, such as spanking. The most significant limitation of this approach is that, even if the child will cease behaving badly for the time being while they are being punished, they will not learn how to alter their behaviour as a result of the experience. When you discipline your child, you are really just teaching them how to make appropriate behaviour choices.

    It is likely that your child will revert to their undesirable behaviours if you do not model appropriate conduct for them. The youngster may develop violent behaviour as a result of the use of physical punishment, which becomes less effective over time. Additionally, if it is taken to an extreme, it might be considered child abuse. Alternative forms of correction are preferable and ought to be utilised whenever it is feasible to do so.

    The importance of early intervention lies in the fact that it teaches children new behaviours before they have developed a whole lifestyle based on poor habits and behaviours that provide a very negative experience both at home and later at school. This is why early intervention is so vital. Children require and desire to have healthy relationships not only with their parents but also with other adults and other children. They will be happier and more successful if we can assist them in becoming proficient in that endeavour at an early age.

    Because of this, getting therapy as soon as possible is essential. Your child can learn to respond more appropriately to their feelings through the use of therapy, which can also help them communicate more effectively with you, their teachers, their siblings, and other authoritative figures.

    FAQs About Behavioural Problems

    For example, aggression that causes a persistent problem at your child's daycare or preschool is cause for concern. If you're worried about your child's behavior or other developmental milestones, Dr. Marks recommends talking to your child's pediatrician or other healthcare provider right away.

    Putting blame on others. Refusing to follow rules or questioning authority. Arguing and throwing temper tantrums. Having difficulty in handling frustration.

    Signs to look for include: tantrums that consistently (more than half the time) include hitting, kicking, biting, or other forms of physical violence toward the parent or caretaker. tantrums in which the child tries to injure themselves. frequent tantrums, defined as tantrums that occur 10 to 20 times a day.

    They are testing their boundaries, experimenting with their independence, and often experiencing big emotions they don't quite know how to process yet. This often results in parents dealing with little tornados, which are prone to tantrums and picky eating and have trouble sleeping.

    Signs to look for include: tantrums that consistently (more than half the time) include hitting, kicking, biting, or other forms of physical violence toward the parent or caretaker. Tantrums in which the child tries to injure themselves. Frequent tantrums are defined as tantrums that occur 10 to 20 times a day.

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