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Understanding Your Child's Behaviour

Young children’s brains are continually developing and they don’t yet have the ability to control their emotions. Knowing this may help you to understand some of the behaviour that you see in your child. Young children will need support from an understanding adult to help them make sense of these feelings.

    • Put yourself in your child’s shoes and try to understand why your child may be acting in the way they are. Are they tired? Overwhelmed? Hungry? Bored?
    • Support, listen and comfort your child. Show them that you love them and that their feelings are important to you.
    • Be consistent in your response to your child. If you react one way one day and differently another day your child will get confused. It is important that everyone in your family supports your child to manage their behaviour in the same way.
    • It can help to try to ignore unwanted behaviour where is it safe to do so. Distract your child into another activity and praise good behaviour.

    Remember that behaviour that feels challenging may be a sign that your child is unhappy or scared. You may need to help them to find a way to describe their feelings either by words or another way that your child is able to communicate their feelings such as drawing a picture.

    When your child is calm, talk with them. Explain to them why it’s not OK to bite you or why you want them to hold your hand when crossing the road, for example.

    Think about how your child’s behaviour is making you feel. If you are becoming stressed or angry, it can be difficult to respond rationally. Talk to family or friends, or call Just One Number for further support

    Never smack your child. This does not work - it can frighten your child and will teach them that smacking is OK. They may then hit other children or adults

    You can complete some free online learning to help understand your child's behaviour *Click Here*

  • Your child or teenager continues to depend on you as they grow and develop. They want to become more independent and can find boundaries tricky to deal with. They might struggle to manage their feelings as their brains are developing and their hormones are starting to surge. This can feel really challenging for parents!

    It helps to notice and comment on all the times they are showing positive behaviour   and are having fun. This will help your child’s self-esteem and confidence to grow. Your child will need you to help them to understand their feelings sometimes, just as they did when they were much younger. Support, listen and comfort your child. Show them that you love them and that their feelings are important to you.

    Sometimes, behaviour is because of a concern or worry your child has, you may need to give your child the time to talk about things – driving somewhere together is often a great time to talk.

    Ask them about their day when you have been apart. Young people may find it hard to start a conversation about something that is worrying them but may be more likely to tell you once you have shown them that you are interested.

    You can complete some free online learning to help understand your child's behaviour *Click Here*

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