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Can I Do Anything About My Child’s Behavior Problems?

Have you ever wondered what to say when your child struggles with frustration, teasing, jealousy, bullies, sibling rivalries, study difficulties, procrastination, inattention, or other hurdles? Some children may be labeled as ADHD at early age. These questions might pop into your mind as a parent:

“Is there anything I can do?”
“Can behaviors be learned, trained and changed?”
“Can I do something other than rely on medication at such an early age?”

The answer to all these questions is a big yes! Many aspects of social development seem to be an innate part of a child’s temperament, but we also know that the environment can play an important part in shaping a child’s social development. In the last ten years, psychologists have become increasingly aware that social and emotional skills can, and should, be taught. Many studies have shown that shy children can become more outgoing, aggressive children can learn self-control, and children who tend to be socially isolated can be taught how to make friends.

Here are some questions and answers about parenting when dealing with different behavioral concerns:

What are the key skills for a parent to serve as a behavior coach?
The key skills are to listen with an open mind, to accept that we have much to learn from our children, even it may sound very unreasonable to accept in a positive way. Parents can control unhelpful reactions, and create emotional safety so that helpful dialogue can proceed. Once these are in place, parenting feels less like a series of skills and more like a natural groove we enter into when coaching our kids.

What should a parent coach do when a child acts impulsively all the time?
Children who continually behave impulsively should be evaluated by a professional for ADHD. It is one of the key symptoms. Early training and intervention will help to improve the impulsivity in the child’s behavior.

Parents can provide coaching for ways for the child to retain self-control. Impulsivity is like riding in a car without brakes. A parent acting as a coach can watch out for triggers in daily life and help suggests ways the child can “burn it off” so as to control the impulsivity.

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