How do you know, as a parent, if something is “normal” or the term professionals prefer, “typical”? How do you know if something is “just a phase”? These are common questions most parents have asked themselves at one time or another while raising young children and, with good reason!
There is a wide spectrum of typical development in children. One thing I love about children is that they are all unique and develop at different rates, to the beat of their own drums. They present the best kind of puzzles where A + B doesn’t always add up to C. For instance, the child that reads at age 4 doesn’t always turn out to be the head of the class. The child that walks at 15 months old often, will be highly coordinated and an amazing athlete. The class clown and “C” (on a good day!) student frequently turns out to be a very successful and lucrative entrepreneur. A problematic behavior, such as lying or stealing, will have parents convinced that their child is destined to be a convicted felon but, it will suddenly cease to exist! This, after a solid month of increasing his or her parent’s anxiety to the maximum level! For these reasons and more, experts know to give a wide berth for “typical” when it comes to development and behavior in children.
So, how DO you know when your
child needs professional help?
How do you know when your child has swung just over the “It’s all okay” line on the behavior pendulum? I have given a list of behaviors that should cause some concern when seen in an average 4-8-year-old child. If you have noticed any of these behaviors with your child, it would be worthwhile to get a professional to evaluate and get their feedback. Please note that most of these behaviors are NOT concerning when happening one time or in isolated, unusual, or atypical circumstances.
Repetition and consistent recurrence
give much more cause to be concerned.
Problematic behaviors in children ages 4 – 8 years old:
- Hurting others (including peers and siblings).
- Angry outbursts with violence and extreme statements (example: “I wish I were dead!”).
- Inability to maintain positive relationships with peers and/or teachers.
- A consistent disregard of parents’ instructions and warnings.
- Extreme emotions or meltdowns related to normal everyday events and situations.
- Failure to gain age appropriate independent skills with parent effort and reinforcement – (potty hygiene, sleeping independently, dressing self, etc.).
- Requires repetition with instructions – can’t carry out more than one task at a time. Needs frequent reminders to get daily routine tasks done.
- Frequent health complaints, aches, and pains.
- Poor behavior reports sent home frequently from school or day care.
- Running away from adults.
This is nowhere near a complete list of possible problematic behaviors. When in doubt, ask your pediatrician about anything you have concerns about. Do not be too alarmed if your child has been exhibiting any behaviors in this list. Children have great potential for change!
The earlier a child receives intervention,
the more likely the child will grow, develop, and improve the behavior.