By Richard Tenczar, MD, FAAP
August 13, 2020
Category: Child Health
While we may not love it, all kids are going to act up, throw tantrums and be irritable at times; however, if your child is displaying negative actions and behaviors regularly, you may be concerned that there is something more going on. Is your child just “going through a phase” or is this a sign of a more serious problem?
Is This Normal Behavior?
Common behaviors issues may include:
- Being defiant
- Issues around bedtime
- Issues around food (being a “picky eater” or refusing to eat)
- Temper tantrums
Most of these issues are common and while they certainly aren’t pleasant at the moment, they are typically fleeting. However, you may want to seek professional help if your child’s behaviors:
- Are still occurring regardless of discipline or punishment
- Are affecting their schoolwork and/or social interactions
- Aren’t appropriate for their age (e.g. throwing temper tantrums as an older child)
While the behaviors above are fairly common in children, certain behaviors are not normal and should be a cause for concern:
- Aggressive or violent behavior
- Harm to self, others, or animals
- Hearing or seeing things that aren’t there
- Breaking the rules or skipping school
- Sudden or extreme behavioral changes
- Showing no remorse
How can a pediatrician help?
Pediatricians come equipped to handle and address any issues regarding your child’s health, and this includes behavioral concerns you may have as a parent. If your pediatrician believes that a developmental, neurological, or mental health disorder could be to blame, then they may recommend additional testing and evaluations. This is done either through their practice or with a specific specialist who can properly diagnose and treat certain conditions such as depression, oppositional defiant disorder, ADHD, or autism spectrum disorder.
Based on the results of your child’s screening, your pediatrician will then be able to create a custom treatment plan to help you and your child manage their condition and their symptoms. Your pediatrician can also refer your child to therapists and other specialists who can also provide additional support and treatment for the whole family.
If you’re having concerns about your child’s behavior, it’s best to talk with your pediatrician at your child’s next wellness checkup.