“Problem child” was the terminology commonly used to refer to children that appeared to have a behavior management problem. Today, society has realized that not only is this a hurtful term, it is also very inaccurate. Children that are grouped into this category are likely suffering from a behavior disorder, and the “problem” is something that can be helped with treatment.
Parents should understand that at some point, especially during the teen years, nearly every child will exhibit so-called “problem” behaviors. However, there is a significant difference between occasional misbehaving and a behavior disorder. One way to determine what is normal and what is not, is to pay close attention to the number and intensity of the occurrences. When undesirable behaviors consistently disrupt both the child’s and family’s daily routine it is worth a closer look to determine if the child is suffering from a behavior disorder. Other signs of behavior disorders include changes in sleeping and eating patterns, depression, violence, and withdrawal from friends and family.
Behavior management problems are not limited to teens, and can often be seen in younger children as well. When a behavior disorder, or behavior management problem, is first suspected is the best time to seek treatment. Often, behavior management problems are only treated after the parents believe they are out of options. When families are in this situation the problems of their child are usually beginning to affect others and other aspects of their daily lives. Early treatment is important. The longer the behavior is allowed to persist, the more difficult it will be to treat.
The treatment process for behavior management problems generally includes determining the cause of the behavior, and then developing a plan to teach both the parents and the child how to deal with the problem or behavior disorder.