Parenting a Child with Challenging Behavior: 7 Sensible Solutions

Sensible parenting seems like a beautiful endeavor—until your child’s challenging behavior nearly drives you up the wall. Then, parenting “survival mode” sometimes kicks in.

Many of us have been there—quoting our parents, tossing away parenting books, and surrendering to a chaotic household. If you’re parenting a child with behavioral challenges, then you know full well what I mean. It’s a tough gig.

However, it’s possible to find solutions for challenging behavior, and you can start today!

Here are seven sensible ways to vamp up your behavioral management strategy.

1. Claim Your Moment

When your child is misbehaving, it’s only natural to feel frustrated. After all, many parents assign themselves value based on their child’s actions. The problem is that even children with great parents act out. And sometimes, it’s in a big way!

To help you move past frustration, guilt, or embarrassment, try to claim your moment. Mainly this approach is meant to give you space to calm down. If possible, step away from the situation. Gather your bearings so you can respond purposefully instead of reacting unintentionally.

2. Take a Step Back to Observe

It may seem more comfortable to go with the flow and take care of issues as they arise. However, doing your research will pay off. Challenging behavior often comes with warning signs. Many times, though parents get so busy that they miss these.

Take time to observe your child’s tantrum or episode entirely—and then mentally rewind a few hours or even days. Is there a theme? Does something set your child off? Knowing this information will help you to prepare your strategy better.

3. Be Open to Other Options

Notice that the suggestion is to be open to options, not opinions. Plenty of people will probably try to tell you how to “fix” your child’s behavior. While the advice is typically well-intended, it’s genuinely up to you to receive it or not.

Instead, to manage challenging behaviors calls for out-of-the-box thinking. If you feel that what you’re doing now isn’t working, it’s time to brainstorm other options. Who says you can’t write a customized parenting manual, after all?

Read blogs, listen to podcasts, learn about other parents’ struggles. Most importantly, be open to doing things differently. Remember, it’s quite alright if you don’t parent the same way as your sibling or best friend.

4. Cover the Basics

Sometimes, even the best of us miss the forest for the trees. In other words, children tend to act out more when they lack the basics—enough sleep, healthy diet, downtime, etc.

When challenging behavior becomes a significant issue, examine your child’s overall schedule. Look to see if adjustments could help to promote improved behavior.

5. Give Them Purpose

Like adults, children of all ages desire a purpose in life. Whether it’s helping with the groceries, feeding the fish, or sweeping the front porch, give your child a task. Daily responsibilities offer a sense of purpose.

Many times, children act out because they feel scattershot on the inside. When you give them a job, finishing the task gives them a sense of purpose and direction. This feeling can help to improve challenging behavior.

6. Reward and Support

Have you ever found yourself in a rut, continually harping on this behavior or that tone of voice? Some days it might even feel like World War 3 in your own home.

Let’s face it; it’s easy to point out undesirable actions and comments. However, noticing the good stuff requires far more energy, and yet, this may be a key to improving your child’s behavior.

As you observe your child and address their choices, remember to call out positive qualities. Often, an encouraging mix of good and bad facets make up a situation that is spiraling out of control.

Pointing out the good aspects is rewarding to your child. Plus, supporting them this way may prevent the downward spiral.

7. Stay Vigilant

Stay the course! Although parenting isn’t a typical job where you can hand your “boss” a two-week notice or throw in the white towel, some days you probably feel like quitting or giving up.

Take heart in knowing that life changes in a flash. This phase of challenging behavior won’t last forever. Stick with your strategy and stay vigilant.

Parenting is no easy task. If you’d like support, I want to help. Please reach out to me today, or visit my page on parenting skills counseling to learn about how I can help.

All images are used for illustrative purposes only. Any person shown is used as a model only.