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The Director's Cut!


Do you ever see a young child kicking and screaming in a store over something simple and hear whispers behind you, “They should control that child….My child would never….If only they had a heavy hand, Billy wouldn’t be acting that way.” When a child is learning at a young age how to process their emotions, it is our responsibility as adults to help guide them through problematic behavior. Instead of labeling a child as having a bad attitude or poor behavior, it is our job as adults to stop, evaluate, and look at the whole situation. Then we are in the proper mindset to provide a solution if necessary. We are going to cover some current theories about negative child behavior. There is still much to be learned about what is deemed undesirable behavior in the field of psychology and children.

First, it is important to specify what problematic behaviors are. Making a distinction between tantrums and inappropriate behavior are crucial. All young children have tantrums. A tantrum is a quick outburst of aggression followed by a return to normal behavior. Conversely, problematic behavior is any action that is inappropriate under normal circumstances and can be cause for concern. Our focus will be on children age five and below who exhibit physical aggression, harming behavior, or depression lasting for more than six months. The children showing these patterns are considered to have behavioral issues.

Factors influencing behavior are biological, environmental, and genetic. Genetics are always part of behavior. We will focus on biological causes and environmental. Biological factors include physical illness, disability, malnutrition, brain damage, and hereditary factors. Research has shown that a human’s brain develops from the bottom up. The Neuro-Sequential Model of Therapeutics posits that the brain develops in this following order: Brainstem, then Limbic Brain, then Critical Brain. If a child is stunted in any of these areas beginning in utero, it can cause a fight or flight panic reaction. Fight or flight can cause stress in the body, even if outwardly a child looks calm. Children who are stuck in a fight or flight feeling cannot process like a neurotypical child. Being stuck in a fight or flight stress response will cause behavioral problems to emerge. Environmental factors include divorce, home changes, inconsistent discipline, unstable home life, and a negative view of school. It is important to differentiate the types of behavior and why they have occurred because it is crucial to reversing the negative behavior.

Consequentially, negative short term and long-term problems are seen in children with behavioral issues. Some children have problematic school behavior, sleep problems, and poor relationships. Solutions to help fix the problem start with first acknowledging a problem is occurring, then finding a doctor who can appropriately diagnose the child. Having positive support from family members is helpful. It is important to make sure the child is getting the recommended amount of sleep (an attached guide is listed). And as always, a balanced diet and physical activity are recommended for all children. Following these steps will not solve the problem but may stop future negative behaviors.

Cherise Jennett: Administrative Assistant


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