Many parents have to deal with a difficult child. Just as some children are easy to control, others prove challenging. While it may seem that your child’s difficult nature has no apparent cause, there is likely something you have overlooked. By considering the potential causes of your child’s generally difficult disposition, you are better able to help him.
Accidental vs. Intentional Misbehavior
When it comes to difficult children, it is important to distinguish between accidental and intentional misbehavior. As the Canadian Medical Health Association reports, not all misbehaviors are created equal. Accidental misbehaviors are particularly common among young children who do not yet understand the impacts of their actions. For example, a young child may not realize that playfully hitting a peer could result in an injury or fight. Intentional misbehaviors, on the other hand, are bad deeds where the child knows that what he is doing is wrong. These are most commonly the behaviors to which parents take exception.
Many difficult children lack impulse control. The ability to stop yourself from doing the first thing that pops into your head is not something that you are born with. Instead, it is something that you must develop. Your child may not have yet developed the ability to stop and think before he acts. Until children develop this ability, it is difficult for them to modify their behavior. Many actions they take are automatic and not thought out.
Eagerness to Explore
Some children present a challenge to their parents — not because they want to be difficult, but because they can’t resist the urge to explore. Children acquire much information about the world and the ways in which it works through exploration. Some particularly curious students continually defy their parents’ requests not because they don’t respect or value their parents, but because the call to explore is just too strong to ignore.
The Attention Seeker
For some children, misbehavior is a way to get attention. Children who are particularly eager to get attention, or those who feel they are not getting enough face time with their parents, may decide that negative attention is better than no attention at all. If your child is being difficult to get your attention, providing him with more positive attention may make him less inclined to do so.
Diagnosable Behavior Disorder
While nearly all children misbehave from time to time, some never seem to be able to control their behavior — despite the best efforts of their parents and caregivers. These children may possess a diagnosable behavior disorder that prevents them from being cooperative and engaging in proper behavior. Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD) is the most commonly diagnosed misbehavior-related disorder, reports MedlinePlus. Children who suffer from ODD demonstrate an inability to control their anger and engage in appropriate behavior. If your child seems to be markedly more difficult than his peers, it is possible that a behavioral disorder is the root of the problem.