Mental HealthNoticing changes in your child's behaviour? Treat the signs as alarms!

Noticing changes in your child’s behaviour? Treat the signs as alarms!

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Have you noticed any changes in your child’s behaviour of late? Well, behaviour is the way in which one acts or conducts oneself, especially towards others in response to a particular situation or stimulus. A growing child, especially teenagers, undergo rapid transformations, both physically and emotionally. It is important to keep an eye on a child’s behaviour and notice sudden changes.

According to Dr Elaprolu Madhavi, Clinical psychologist/Behavior therapist, Fernandez Child Development Center (FCDC), a change in a child’s behaviour is linked to whatever they go through.

Parents need to make the child understand the need and availability for appropriate care and support during this difficult phase of their life, adds the expert.

What is problematic behaviour in children?

Behaviour can be described as challenging or non-desired when the behaviour is inappropriate to the child’s age or developmental stage or cultural background. It should be a cause of worry when a child’s behaviour interferes with the rights of others or causes harm or risk to the child, other children, adults or living things.

“As a parent, you should consider it a serious problem if you find your child trying to damage the physical environment, or exhibits learning problems, has relationship issues or starts coming across as shy or passive,” says Dr Madhavi.

Know when it’s a problem sign. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Warning signs related to a child’s behaviour

* Drastic changes in behaviour or personality
* Arguing a lot or asking many questions
* Sibling rivalry
* Speaking irrelevant when questioned
* Easily getting annoyed or nervous
* Avoiding the activities which they were interested in
* Avoiding eye contact
* Spending more time on social media (watching pornography or gaming and betting)
* Often appearing angry
* Blaming others/feeling jealous about others, low self-esteem regarding their skills
* Self-blaming
* Having difficulty in handling frustration
* Frequent tantrums and outbursts
* Feelings of sadness
* Social withdrawal and isolation
* Self-harm, including suicidal thoughts, or threatening to self-harm or others
* Damaging or destroying property
* Lying or stealing
* Not doing well in school, skipping classes
* Indulgence in smoking, drinking, drug use or sexual activity
* Consistent hostility toward authority figures
* Fluctuations in weight
* Changes in appetite, eating disorders, avoiding eating at home
* Neglecting personal hygiene and appearance
* Speech-related issues such as stammering/stuttering or cluttering
* Late night sleep disturbances
* Complaints from schools
* Procrastination of academic activities.
* Issues with peer group, friends or relationship issues

Several experience can trigger mental health issues among children. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Causes of behavioural changes in a child

Dr Madhavi explains that internal and external factors may be the root cause of a sudden shift in your child’s behaviour.

Internal factors include the biological factors, child’s emotional development and temperament. Even an existing disability can impact a child’s social and emotional wellness. Other reasons could include hormonal changes, depression, anxiety, and exposure to drugs and alcohol.

External factors include parenting styles, family relationships, Sibling rivalry, changes to family circumstances, a traumatic event which has occurred recently, bulling, body shaming, criticism, physical abuse, sexual abuse, limited social experiences, family or cultural expectations, transformation/adjustment issues and financial crisis.

How to manage a child’s challenging behaviour

1. Work out with common triggers, including environment or with certain people.

2. Teach them coping strategies such as controlled breathing, relaxation techniques or counting to reduce stress.

3. Stay alert and try to anticipate problems.

4. Avoid parental anxiety and anger

5. Parents should give children a chance to express their feelings, problems and be non-judgmental and guide their children to solve they’re by giving them options rather than pressuring them to

6. Motivate the child to develop problem solving skills, decision making and deal with their concerns.

Keep communication channels open with your children. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

7. Reinforce the child for appropriate behaviours and focus more on the strengths of the child.

8. Avoid aggressive communication and maintain assertive communication.

9. Parents should plan family time where each one of the family members can share their concerns and discuss on the solutions

10. Create a strong support network of family and friends. Seek Professional help and guidance from professionals, if necessary.

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