Having a child who misbehaves can be extremely challenging for parents and teachers alike. One particular challenge for parents is determining whether that behavior is simply part of a normal developmental phase, or whether that behavior signifies a disorder that may need professional intervention.
If your child is behaving in an inappropriate or disruptive manner, here are some ways to determine if this is a stage he or she will grow out of -- or if you should seek support or guidance from a specialist.
Disruptive and Inappropriate Behaviors
Kids can exhibit a slew of disruptive behaviors that might indicate more serious disorders, including oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) or conduct disorder (CD). Some examples of these behaviors include stealing things, destroying things, ignoring rules or laws, threatening other people, picking arguments for no reason, choosing not to cooperate on purpose, or lying without any remorse.
Other disruptive behaviors can include throwing tantrums, holding their breath, screaming or loud crying, or loud and intrusive whining.
How to Know Whether Your Child's Behavior Is a Normal Phase or a Disorder
If your child displays any of the above behaviors, you might have trouble knowing what is normal and what indicates something more serious. Here are some signs that your child may need help from a professional in order to better handle or manage his or her behavior.
- Violent tantrums: Many kids have tantrums, but if your child's tantrum becomes violent (including kicking, biting, punching and other actions), there's a good chance this behavior is the result of a disorder.
- Frequent and extended tantrums: When your child throws tantrums that last more than 30 minutes, he or she may have a more serious behavioral issue. Also, if your child's tantrums happen frequently -- more than once or twice a week -- he or she may need help with managing feelings and emotions.
- Intentionally violent behavior: Children may get into fights where they lash out against siblings. However, if your child regularly aims to hurt another child or caregiver (or animals) by hitting, biting, kicking and so on, he or she may be exhibiting signs of a behavioral disorder. A disorder could also be the root cause if your child tries to inflict self-harm.
- Frequently dishonest or vindictive behavior: Dishonesty or enjoyment in doing things that upset others may be a sign of a disorder.