Behavior Problems? How to Get Your Child Or Teen Back on Track

Dr. Purushothaman
November 29, 2013


If you think that your teen or adolescent may have a child behavior problem, you may be wondering what you can do to help him get back on track. When is behavior a problem and when is it just a phase that a child is going through? In this article, you'll learn how to tell the difference between the two and restore a sense of harmony to your home without resorting to harsh punishment.

Parents of today seem confused about behavior problems that they see in their kids. Warned by experts that being harsh and punitive may permanently damage their children's self-esteem, they don't know how to get their kids to be respectful, do their schoolwork and act appropriately at home and out in the world. When kids are chronically disrespectful, parents may make demands for them to stop, but notice that the behavior shows itself whenever kids are not getting what they want.

Today's kids may seem manipulative and sophisticated, especially when compared with how we were when we were growing up. So the question is how do you know when you have a serious child behavior problem on your hands that warrants swift action? The answer to that question lies in the behavior itself. Ask yourself: is it chronic? In other words, does it happen with some frequency? Is it a behavior that you have tried to resolve numerous ways that your child just refuses to change? Is it behavior that is hurtful or demeaning to others? This is behavior that requires your attention.

Although it's normal for kids to start to question their parents and other authorities during adolescence because this is the time when they start to form their own identities, it is not okay for them to be chronically disrespectful or defiant, especially when what you are asking them to do is in their best interests, for instance, getting good grades in school. When you have a chronic child behavior problem on your hand, most parents will punish their kids, but for defiant kids, this often makes things worse.

The problem is that a lot of parents don't know how to enforce the limits without being harsh or punitive. And if you don't get the message across that your child needs to live up to certain expectations and respect other people's boundaries, then your child may develop behavior problems that get the attention of school authorities or worse yet, even the police. It's important to understand that chronic bad behavior does not get better on its own. This is not just a phase that your child is going through: it is a character style that must be addressed before it gets much worse.

One way to do this is with therapy. The therapeutic model can be quite successful with troubled kids, but this takes time and of course, there are no guarantees. Obviously, you need to find a qualified therapist who has a successful track record with adolescents and who can work well with your kid. You should know going in that therapy can be expensive and that your insurance will probably not cover all the costs.

Another way to deal with behavioral issues is to learn how to handle them yourself. This will require some parent education, but there are many programs that you can purchase and use at home that will teach you some simple, yet effective ways to resolve behavior problems. The benefit of this is that you, not a therapist, will learn what works with your child. This means that you will learn strategies for putting a stop to problem behaviors before they get out of control and before the younger children in your home start copying them. If you already feel like things are out of hand, then you'll learn step by step exactly what to do.

Best of all, as your child starts to make measurable changes in his behavior, he will start to feel good about himself and how he's doing and have greater respect for you since you were the one who took the time and cared enough to help him turn things around. The more your child's good choices and positive behaviors are reinforced, the more he will want to continue them.

It's not your fault if you don't know how to deal with the problem behaviors and sophisticated manipulations of kids today, especially when you cannot in good conscience use the tools of blame and shame that your parents used because you're aware of the psychological damage that this can cause. Of course, you won't have to resort to this if you take the time to learn the simple skills that therapists use in their practice that can motivate even troubled kids to turn their lives around.

Read Related Recent Articles