Parenting Children with Behavior Problems

Here's what's happening on the HealthyPlace site this week:

For Parents: How to Make Changes in Your Child's Behavior

At times, children misbehave. That's the nature of the beast. It's the child who is especially challenging or "difficult" that can make a parent's life miserable. It isn't that these children set out to try their parents' patience, but rather are born with a challenging temperament. The question is: what can parents do to change their child's behavior?

Children tend to continue a behavior when it is rewarded and stop a behavior when it is ignored. The American Academy of Family Physicians notes that consistency in your reaction to a behavior is important because rewarding and punishing the same behavior at different times confuses your child. When your child's behavior is a problem, you have 3 choices:

  1. Decide that the behavior is not a problem because it's appropriate to the child's age and stage of development.
  2. Attempt to stop the behavior, either by ignoring it or by punishing it. This way works best over a period of time. When you want the behavior to stop immediately, you can use the time-out method.
  3. Introduce a new behavior that you prefer and reinforce it by rewarding your child. This works best in children over 2 years of age. It can take up to 2 months to work. Being patient and keeping a diary of behavior can be helpful to parents. Examples of good rewards are an extra bedtime story, delaying bedtime by half an hour, a preferred snack or, for older children, earning points toward a special toy, a privilege or a small amount of money. Explain the desired behavior and the reward to the child. Request the behavior only one time. If the child does what you ask, give the reward. You can help the child if necessary but don't get too involved.

Remember, parents are a role model for their children. If you consistently get too upset or physically punish your child, that can negatively impact your child's behavior.

More on this subject on this week's HealthyPlace Mental Health TV Show. Details below.

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"Parenting Children with Behavior Problems" On HealthyPlace TV

Do you play the role of the "parent cop" in your house? Our guest, child psychologist, Dr. Steven Richfield, says being the "parent coach" can be a lot more effective in helping children with behavior problems. Plus strategies for managing and overcoming difficult behavior in children.

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You can watch the interview on the HealthyPlace Mental Health TV Show website.

In March, on the HealthyPlace Mental Health TV Show

  • Parents of Addicts
  • Eating Disorders Recovery: The Power of Parents

If you would like to be a guest on the show or share your personal story in writing or via video, please write us at: producer AT

Click here for a list of previous HealthyPlace Mental Health TV Shows.

From HealthyPlace Mental Health Blogs

Feel free to share your thoughts and comments at the bottom of any blog post. And visit the mental health blogs homepage for the latest posts.

Deleting Your Relationship Followup

I want thank everyone who wrote or called in to share their reactions to last week's newsletter story on "Things Not Working Out? Delete Your Relationship". Some people had strong opinions on the subject. Wanda writes:

"I don't think you just delete someone out of your life that quickly, but you have to start somewhere and that was her way of trying to accept the fact that the relationship is over. If it made her feel better why not do it that way because he sure as heck didn't try to make her feel better."

and George, commenting on the role technology plays in relationships today, says:

"You may scrap their phone number or get rid of pictures of each other, but to solve problems or work at a relationship, you have to face each other in person -- not by text, phone or email -- but face-to-face and tell each other why you feel the way you do. Otherwise, you will keep on moving-on in life. Yes!! You will hurt, but is it not more important to know what you are hurting for? That is the only simple way to get on in life."

The audio posts on "Deleting Someone From Your Life" are here. Take a listen. If you would still like to share your thoughts on this subject, call our toll-free number at 1-888-883-8045.

back to: Mental-Health Newsletter Index

APA Reference
Staff, H. (2010, March 4). Parenting Children with Behavior Problems, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 23 from

Last Updated: September 5, 2014

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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