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Children’s Behavior: When a Bad Temper Goes to Far


Children’s Behavior: When a Bad Temper Goes to Far


Fits of rage, outright disobedience and defiance, throwing stuff, bullying smaller children – these are just some of the behaviors associated with unacceptable behavior for a child. Many children can manifest these behaviors at one time or another. With a justifiable reason – and if it happens occasionally, you can let the behavior pass. When these behaviors are exaggerated and are being exhibited with frequency, however, it is best to pay attention.

For instance, your child may not necessarily be a bully just because he/she picked on another child. However, if you are getting frequent reports or feedback from your child’s teachers, other parents or children, you may want to take the time and consult a child therapist or counselor. According to Swedish psychologist and bullying expert Dan Olweus, “bullying involves repeated, aggressive behavior with a negative intent from one child to another, where there is a power difference.

If your child has behavioral issues or difficulty perceiving and interpreting social signals, they may need to be helped. They can be avoided or rejected by their peers. They can feel alienated in the playgrounds, school, and even at home. Their behavior can give them an unhappy, even traumatic, childhood. It can be an effective strategy to learn to be proactive and anticipate how your child is likely to react to situations before they escalate. Assessment of their symptoms and resolution of their issues can be addressed with counseling.


The Triggers: What Sets Them Off

Your child’s behavior can be a response to an internal or external stimulus or trigger. A trigger could be something in the environment, such as a situation, which may set off a reaction or cause a behavior to be exhibited. There are triggers that happen right before a behavior and there are those that may occur long before the behavior is exhibited. Recognizing the triggers is productive in preventing and resolving this setting off their behaviors.

At home, misbehaviors can be triggered by being told what to do or what not to do, by sibling rivalry, or by the divorce or separation of the parents. Not getting enough sleep, an ailment, a medication, or stopping a medication, may also trigger confusion and misbehavior. If they are feeling unhappy in their school or feeling rejected by their peers, they may also want others to feel as they do.

In the school, beginning a new task perceived as difficult or ending one they love could trigger misbehavior. They may also respond with anger or aggressiveness when they are not getting the attention they want or when getting attention from people they don’t like. Negative comments from their peers and authority figures may also set off their anger. Excessive noise and lighting, even a seating arrangement not to their liking, can also trigger misbehavior.


Complicating the Triggers

Understanding these triggers is basic because a behavior isn’t necessarily “bad” if it is taken as a symptom to indicate a condition or issue that is bothering your child. It could be your child’s way of saying that something is wrong, or they are confused. It could be a sign that they are unhappy or they feel being unduly restrained. It could also be a red flag symptom that indicates an emotional issue or condition. These factors can make recognizing the triggers more difficult.
Aside from these triggers, your child has a greater tendency to exhibit misdemeanors when they are strong willed. A child who is strong willed will most probably be intelligent, self-assured, determined, decisive, and have a remarkable ability for problem-solving and creative thinking. While these are positive, enviable traits that can help groom them for success, parenting strong-willed children could be a challenge. To bring out the best in your child, discovering the triggers can help.

They may also be more vulnerable to bad behaviors when gripped by an emotional condition. These may include mood disorders (depression and bipolar disorder), anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), conduct disorders, etc. Emotional conditions and challenges can impact their functioning and abilities, so they can affect their behavior and interactive or social skills.


Warning: A Child’s Anger Can Be a Sign

Tantrums and meltdowns can be common occurrences for a child. What may also be alarming is when these keep happening with intensity and for no apparent reason. It can also be worrisome when you/the parents react to it instinctively, either by appeasing or complying with their demands or by using a sterner hand in the form of discipline, punishment or intimidation. While these methods are not necessarily wrong, they can’t create a constructive learning experience for them.

Anger, being a natural emotion, isn’t necessarily cause for worry. Anyone, even children, is entitled to feel angry when they perceive that someone treats them unfairly. The “entitlement,” however, does not come along with the “right” to express it in a way that is hurtful and damaging to them and to others. Your child should learn to express their feelings in a constructive manner.

Simply letting their instinct take control of their anger can be unsettling. Telling them “to behave” or “be nice” does not show them how to handle their anger or rage. Resorting to punishment or demanding they stop or change their behavior may diffuse the heat of the moment, but may not be effective in the long run. If there is an anger culture in the family, teaching by example could be challenging. In this case, seeking professional help from a counselor can help.


Transforming Your Child’s Behavior

A child’s temper or behavior issues should be addressed. According to Psychology Today, “There is no diagnosis for angry behavior per se, but some of the conditions that involve uncontrollable anger are: bipolar disorder, oppositional disorder, and child antisocial behavior.” With these possibilities, it is important for a parent provides professional assistance to their child, particularly when their behavior is unrestrained, hurting others and themselves, as well in many ways. It may not be just a passing phase. If Ignored, their behavior and emotional flare ups can get worse.

There are appropriate approaches to resolve your child’s behavioral issues. Counseling can help you understand the reasons why they get angry or behave unacceptably, to be able to understand their emotions before they express themselves in a hurtful manner. It can help your child, particularly if the root cause is an emotional condition.

Are you ready for your child become happier and well-adjusted? Help is available, the right therapist independently contracted with Carolina Counseling Services – Southern Pines, NC may be the resolution you are looking for. Call today to request your first appointment.

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Carolina Counseling Services – Southern Pines, NC contracts with Licensed professional counselors/therapists/psychologists who provide a friendly, caring, and relaxed atmosphere in the Southern Pines/Pinehurst/Aberdeen/Raeford area. These independently contracted therapists/counselors assist adult individuals, couples, families, and children with resolving issues and getting back to enjoying their lives. Whether you are non-military or military, the independently contracted therapists with Carolina Counseling Services – Southern Pines, NC are able and happy to assist you!

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  • Kelly ErkenBrack, LCSW

    Specializes in: (Ages 3+) Children, Teens, Adults, Couples and Families. Anxiety, Depression, Grief and Loss, Mood Disorders, Trauma, Adjustments and Life Transitions, ADHD, Behavioral Issues, Parenting, Relationship Concerns, Self Esteem
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  • Kathryn Wiens, PsyD. HSP-P

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  • Tracy Goldberg, MSW, LCSW

    Specializes in: (Ages 5+) Individuals, Adolescents, Adults, Couples, Children and Families. Attention Deficit, Oppositional Defiance, Behavioral Issues, Peer Relationships, Family Conflict, Depression, Anxiety, Parenting Anxiety, ADHD, Self-Esteem Issues, Family Conflict/Divorce, Marriage Counseling, Adjustment Disorders, Relationship Issues, Grief and Loss, Communication Skills, Behavioral Issues, Coping Skills, Mood Disorders, Parent Skill Building, Christian Counseling upon request
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    Location: Southern Pines, NC