When is Bad Behavior a Real Problem?

My oldest daughter used to throw tantrums which could stump Mary Poppins. She would bang her head into the floor when things didn’t go her way. It was awful. I worried so much. I was convinced she was going to be a horrible person. She isn’t, and so far is the easiest, happiest teenager. One of my 5 year old twins used to lose his mind, really lose his mind, if someone accidentally flushed the toilet after he used it. Instead of being worried, I had the gift of perspective from Madelyn. It was actually kind of funny, especially for anyone who wasn’t his mother. Had it continued though, I would’ve stopped laughing and started stressing. When should you worry?

behavioral problemsThe American Academy of Pediatrics recently released new guidelines to help physicians and other health care providers diagnose behavioral problems. Guidelines mostly included ways to make it easier to recognize and track children with emotional problems. As parents are usually the first ones to recognize a problem in their kids, I assembled some signs and symptoms which should raise red flags at home. It is important to note, every child is different and kids do go through phases. These are not meant to frighten you and send you running for a specialist, but do remember early intervention is often critical when there is a real issue. If you have any concerns, talk to your child’s doctor sooner rather than later.

— A persistent pattern of anger and outbursts

— Frequent complaints of physical ailments

— Changes in sleep or eating problems

—  Persistent nightmares or night terrors

— Excessive worrying and anxiety or fear

— Hyperactivity

— Frequent temper tantrums

— Signs of aggression against other people or animals

— Spending a lot of time alone

— Persistent disobedience

Challenging children can upset the entire home and wreak havoc on a family. Sometimes it is just a matter of patience and waiting it out. Unfortunately, sometimes it is more serious. Some reports say up to 20% of American children have a diagnosable behavioral problem. While I do worry kids are being incorrectly or over diagnosed, the advantage is more children are getting the help they need early. Don’t wait too long to speak with your doctor.

behavioral problems


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Author: Karen Latimer

Karen is a Family Doctor, mom of five and founder of Tips From Town.


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