Managing Problematic Child Behavior at Home

One of the biggest challenges that parents face, is dealing with a problematic child and learning how to effectively address bad behaviors. Whether this is your child consistently refusing to put their shoes on when it’s time to leave, or it’s throwing large scale temper tantrums all day long, these problematic behaviors are difficult to deal with.



Antecedents are the behaviors and factors that came before the problematic behavior started. What triggered this response from your child? If you can learn and identify what these triggers are, you can better anticipate your child’s actions, and prevent tantrums and other problematic behaviors. You can never assume that expectations are already understood. You’ll need to take time to explain to your child what is expected of them, otherwise how will they know what you want of them? Never yell out an instruction from afar, always address an issue calmly, face-to-face.




What comes after the antecedents, is the behavior. These behaviors can be actions you are specifically trying to encourage or discourage. Work to define these behaviors. A loose definition such as “be good” or “acting up” are not effective in this situation. An example of a well defined behavior would be that running around the room is bad/unacceptable, and remembering to start their homework on time is good.




A consequence is what comes directly after a behavior, whether naturally or logically. Consequences don’t have to be a negative thing, in fact, a consequence should be either positive or negative. One of the most powerful things that you can do when it concerns consequences, is make sure that these consequences are immediate. The sooner after a behavior that a consequence occurs, the more memorable and effective it will be.


Consequences to avoid:

-Giving negative attention. If your child is misbehaving, ignore them. Negative attention, such as yelling, is still attention, which is what your child was seeking. Yelling and reacting with negative and harsh criticism is hard on your child’s self esteem.

-Delayed consequences.

-Disproportionate consequences. Giving a huge consequence for a small misdeed is not only inappropriate, but it is demoralizing for your child.

-Positive consequences when they are not due. If your child is dawdling instead of putting on their shoes or picking up their toys, when you do it for them, they learn that if they put it off that you will just do it for them.


Consequences that are effective:

-Positive attention for positive behaviors

-Ignoring actively when your child is misbehaving

-Time outs

-Being clear

-Set rules and follow them

-Be consistent

-Always make your child return to their task once they are done with their timeout, so that way they know it isn’t a way to escape the task they were hoping to avoid.


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