Behaviour

Children 0-5 years old

As children grow and learn, they depend on you to keep them safe and teach them what is and is not good behaviour.

As your child becomes more independent, they may start to push your boundaries. This can be really challenging as a parent!

It helps to know that this is how children begin to understand the world around them and how their actions affect others. Young children’s brains are still developing and they don’t yet have the ability to control their emotions. Young children need support from an understanding adult to help them make sense of these feelings.

Children 5-19 years old

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 will struggle to manage their feelings as their brains are developing and hormones are starting to surge. This can be really challenging for parents!

It helps to notice and comment on all the times they are behaving well and having fun. This will help your child’s self-esteem and confidence to grow.

 

What you can do

  • 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 the boundaries you set. If you react one way one day and differently another day your child will get confused. It is important that everyone in your family deals with your child's behaviour in the same way
  • Try to ignore unwanted behaviour where is it safe to do so. Distract your child into another activity and praise good behaviour
  • Remember that bad behaviour may be a sign that your child is unhappy or scared. You may need to help them to find the words to describe their feelings
  • When your child is calm, talk to 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.
  • Sometimes, the behaviour is because of a concern or worry your child has. Give your child the time to talk about things – driving somewhere together is often a great time to talk.
  • 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 a health professional.
  • 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

 

Who can help?

If you’re worried about your child’s behaviour, call your health visiting team on 01525 631150 or text a health visitor via Parentline on 07507 331456.

For young people with behavioural difficulties aged 11-19, our school nursing team is available to give confidential advice on ChatHealth via text, simply send a message to 07507 331450.

 

Links and additional information

Parenting groups

NSPCC positive parenting

Dealing with child behaviour problems, NHS

Understanding childhood, hold and count to ten

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