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Problem Child - How to Cope with & Change Difficult Kids

A problem child can adversely affect everyone in your home if he can't learn to express and control his anger. This is a big challenge to parents who may feel overwhelmed by a child who is constantly acting out and who doesn't respond to their attempts to help him. Beyond that, the other children in the home will suffer if all the parents' energies are directed toward an out-of-control child.

When dealing with problem children, parents need to be concerned about current behavior and what this behavior will lead to in the future. Studies have shown that kids who have difficulty managing their feelings tend to have difficult lives as adults because they haven't learned the give-and-take skills required to get along with others and succeed in life.

While the prospect of a difficult teenager or a difficult adult child may make you feel even more overwhelmed, don't worry: there is hope. Problem children act out for a reason. The trick lies in getting to the cause so you can help your child address and overcome it.

Before you label a problem child, you need to understand that certain behaviors are a result of development. How you deal with your child during developmental crises can determine how he is able to express and deal with his own anger. Understand that at certain stages of a child's life, for instance, during the period from age 2-4, it is perfectly normal for a child to throw tantrums when his will and independence-seeking behavior is thwarted.

It is also common for a child of this age to throw a tantrum when hungry, tired, frustrated, confused or overwhelmed. Changes in home or lifestyle can also put great pressure on a child. If a child experiences stress at preschool or in school, he may wait to have a tantrum in the company of those whom he considers safe.

If you have a child of this age and need a guide to teach you how to teach him to deal effectively with moods and feelings, I recommend you read my special report on cultivating emotional intelligence in children. (Just click on the link and scroll to the bottom or the page to get your copy of the report.)

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During the teenage years, this striving toward independence is once again experienced, this time, at a deeper and more primal level. Teens may refuse to respect authority or become increasingly argumentative or even outright defiant. If these behaviors become habituated and become a way of relating to others, this is when you have a problem child, especially when the child or teen expresses anger through aggression.

While it's normal for children to challenge their parents as they're striving toward independence, most parents don't know how to deal with this and may unwittingly enable their child's behavior, making things worse and actually encouraging defiant behaviors. Aggressive behavior by a two-year old is one thing, aggressive behavior by a teenager can be scary and dangerous, both to the teen and those around him.

Worse yet, if you have other children in your home, the problem child, especially if he is a teen, can serve as a role model for your other children, eventually making your life into a living hell.

Tantrums Are Part of Child Development

At the core of a problem child is a kid who doesn't know how to manage his emotions productively. While it is normal for young kids to release their anger by throwing tantrums, as a parent, you need to help your child learn how to cope with feelings and express them positively. Kids need to see how unchecked feelings lead to actions which have consequences.

For kids, who are just going through this period of development, the special report I mentioned earlier will help immensely. However, if your child is still throwing tantrums at age five, do not write this off as a passing phase because his behavior will only worse with age, strength and time.

Dealing with Problem Children

When dealing with a problem child, you need to learn to control your responses to his behavior. If you scream or lash out at the child, this will only reinforce his lack of self-control. Plus, it puts the child in charge because now he knows exactly what to do to push your buttons.

If you have already tried to do this or feel like you're ready for a real solution, consider an at-home behavioral program that will show you step by step strategies to help you teach your child how to express his feelings positively and what the limits are, all while creating an environment that supports his natural strivings toward independence. Best of all, you can learn to do this without being punitive or harsh. Doing so, will transform your problem child into a responsible child and will deepen your bonds with each other.

About the Author: Laura Ramirez is the author of the award-winning parenting book, Keepers of the Children. The book teaches parents how to raise children to develop their strengths and act with integrity and courage. The book has won a Nautilus award for books that encourage conscious living and social change.

Problem Children - Parenting Tips


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