Children exhibit behavioral problems for different reasons, ranging from a young child’s desire to test boundaries and see what he or she can get away with, to an older child’s attempt to affirm his or her independence by trying to challenge his or her parents’ authority.

Common childhood behavioral problems

Temper tantrums

Temper tantrums are often the result of a child not knowing how to process or express his or her feelings of anger or frustration appropriately. Other times it’s a way of testing you to see if he or she can get you to cave and let them have their way.

In either case, the best strategy is to stay calm and ignore the child until he or she quiets down. Getting frustrated or giving in will only serve to reinforce the message that by using this behavior they can get anything they want whenever they want it.


Children typically lie to get attention, get out of trouble, or avoid something painful or uncomfortable. The best tactic to counter this is to emphasize the importance of telling the truth regardless of possible consequences, modeling it by always being honest and truthful yourself, and by rewarding your child with praise when he or she tells the truth even if he or she might get into trouble for doing so.


Sometimes a child does not do what he or she is told to do because the instructions were too complex for him or her to follow. Make sure your instructions are short and clear.


Defiance is sometimes a sign of growing independence. Your child may refuse to do what you tell him or her to do to test boundaries and challenge your authority. Stay calm and offer him or her limited choices so they have some sense of control. If they do follow your instructions, even after saying they don’t want to, be positive and affirming.


If your child talks back, calls you names, throws things when angry, or is rude when you ask them to do something, don’t lose your temper, show frustration, or threaten them. Calmly and firmly tell them that while it is okay to be angry, being disrespectful and using inappropriate language is not. Then it’s best to walk away rather than get into a back-and-forth with your angry child.


Aggression can be the result of any number of things such as pent-up anger and hostility, life circumstances, frustration, or being exposed to violence at home. Toddlers and younger children may also act aggressively because they lack the communication skills to ask for what they need.

When responding to your child, lower your voice and calmly but firmly let them know that their actions are unacceptable. Be a role model of the behavior you want your child to mirror and teach him or her healthy ways of coping with frustration.

Best ways to address problem behavior

Studies have found that immediate consequences for bad behavior are more effective than delayed ones. Here are some strategies recommended by child behavior management experts.

Don’t give in

Giving in to your child’s bad behavior teaches them that it is an effective way of getting what they want. Explain that this type of behavior is unacceptable and set boundaries and consequences.

Remain calm

Harsh responses tend to make things worse and convey the wrong message. Stay calm and model the type of behavior you want your child to mirror. If the child calms down and starts to listen, praise them for their good behavior. If not, it’s best to walk away and not get into a back-and-forth with your angry child.

Ignore undesirable behavior

Ignore undesirable attention-seeking behaviors rather than react to them. Negative attention is still attention and is likely to reinforce your child’s actions.

Praise positive behavior

Reinforce positive behaviors you want to encourage by using behavior-specific praise, such as “good job calming down. “

Have consistent consequences

Make your expectations clear to your child and establish consistent consequences so he or she knows what to expect.

Wait to talk until after the meltdown

Do not respond impulsively or try to reason with an upset child. Wait for him or her to quiet down before addressing the issue and then calmly tell them what behavior is acceptable and what is not and provide them with healthy alternatives.

If you have questions or need more help than what this article could provide, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at Irvine Christian Counseling in California. The professional, faith-based counselors in Irvine would be happy to help.


Amy Morin. “Common Child Behavior Problems and Their Solutions.” Verywell Family. Updated October 1, 2020.

Patricia, Facty Staff. “10 Behavioral Problems in Children and Natural Solutions.” Facty Health. Updated November 2, 2023.

Sagari Gongala. “9 Common Child Behavior Problems And Solutions.” Mom Junction. January 9, 2024.

“Happy!”, Courtesy of Alexander Dummer,, CC0 License; “Puddle Jumping”, Courtesy of Luna Lovegood,, CC0 License; “Watching the Birds”, Courtesy of Huy Phan,, CC0 License

By Published On: March 20th, 20244.4 min read


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