Children’s behaviour

Over the last couple of years, you will have seen amazing changes in your child and they will now be gaining in confidence and independence. During the childhood years, some of the most amazing changes happen and you will notice your child starts to really become an individual as their personality shines and they come out of their shell; however, these years can also be challenging, as even the most angelic of children are prone to the occasional strop. Child tantrums are notorious and they usually happen in the most public of places, making parents cringe with embarrassment. The following articles will outline some of the most common behavioural traits amongst children, offer information about encouraging good behaviour and provide tips on how to deal with bad behaviour and where to go for advice and support.

Children’s habits

You may notice, as your child grows up, that they display some rather unpleasant habits; some common habits include:

  • Picking their nose
  • Kicking
  • Spitting
  • Biting
  • Sticking their tongue out
  • Pulling hair
  • Banging their head against a wall
  • Screaming
  • Swearing
  • Lying
  • Throwing tantrums

Some of these are routine problems and phases, which your child will pass through quickly; however, in some cases, they may reflect a deeper problem and you may find that their habits become very difficult to control. If you are concerned about your child’s behaviour, you should talk to your health visitor or GP about it; in most cases it will be a matter of going through developmental stages, getting rid of frustration and adapting to different environments, but it is always worth checking out if you are really worried. If your GP or health visitor thinks there may be a deeper problem, your child may be referred for specialist help.

You can try to discourage bad habits by setting a good example and telling your child that their behaviour is not very good; do this every time they do something which is unpleasant but try not to give them lots of attention when they do it as this may encourage them to do it more often.

Why is my child behaving badly?

Even the most angelic children go through phases where their behaviour is not exactly exemplary and you should expect a certain amount of bad behaviour as your child grows up and starts to encounter new surroundings and meet new people. However, in some cases, bad behaviour is more than just a phase and it can be emotionally and physically exhausting for the parents and siblings. There are many different reasons why your child may be displaying unusually bad behaviour; these include:

  • Change: any kind of change can affect a child’s behaviour; for example, if you’ve moved house, if they’ve changed nursery or if you’ve had another baby.
  • Attention: your child may be throwing tantrums to get your attention
  • Past experiences: your child may remember an episode in the past; for example if they’ve behaved badly and you’ve given them sweets to appease them, they may do it in the future so they can have more sweets.
  • Your behaviour: if you are behaving differently, for example if you are upset or agitated, your child may notice this and this may affect their behaviour.
  • Boredom
  • Frustration and aggression: this may be their way of getting out frustration and anger.

Dealing with tantrums (at home and in public)

Coping with tantrums can be really difficult, especially if your child decides to throw themselves on the floor in the middle of a shopping centre or supermarket. Here are some tips for coping with tantrums:

  • Try to stay calm (even though this can seem almost impossible) and wait for the tantrum to die down; eventually they will get tired and bored if you don’t react; if you do react, this will probably encourage them to play up even more.
  • Try to identify the cause of the temper tantrum: it may be as simple as they are hungry or tired, or it may be a sign of frustration or jealousy.
  • Try to distract your child by pointing out interesting things or giving them a toy or book to read.
  • Try to avoid long shopping trips; these are quite boring for your child and this increases the risk of them throwing a tantrum in public.
  • Try to calm your child down; hold them and try to talk gently to them.
  • Be consistent: deal with tantrums in the same way each time and then your child knows where they stand.

How to encourage good behaviour, courtesy and good manners

Children learn by example so the chances are, if you have good manners your child will pick these up. Try to encourage your child to say please and thank you from an early age; even before they can speak, you can start to say please and thank you when you give them food or a drink, for example.

Encourage your child to share their toys from an early age; this will be particularly easy if they have siblings. Reward good behaviour and praise them when they do something that is kind.

Talk to your child about their behaviour; tell them when they have done something good and talk to them if they have done something that is not very good; explain why you are upset with them and take care to get down to their level when you talk to them.

If you make promises to your child, make sure you can deliver them.

Keep your instructions clear and simple; if you make them confusing and long-winded, they won’t understand you.

Caring for your child:

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