7 Worst Child Behavior Problems and Solutions for You

Middle Class Dad child behavior problems and solutions sepia picture of a young boy in a hoodie on a brick street yelling in anger

Wondering about child behavior problems and solutions?

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As parents, it’s often times hard find child behavior problems and solutions.

We spend a lot of time wondering:

    • Is it something they learned at school?
    • Am I doing something wrong
    • Is it a sign of something worse?
    • What do I need to do to fix it?
    • Is there something wrong with my child?

In truth, at different points in time you’ll likely ask yourself all of those questions.

Great parents aren’t perfect.  We mess up.  We make mistakes.

But we recognize and learn from our mistakes.  We strive to be a better parent today than we were yesterday.

Those qualities, and not perfection (or the illusion of) are what makes a great parent. The same is true for our kids.

In this post, we’re diving deep into the world of kid’s behavior.

We’ll look at the most common issues parents face today. We will explore bullying, depression, defiance and more. More importantly, though, we look at real-world solutions you can put into place today, for a more harmonious house tomorrow.

So specifically, we’re looking at child behavior problems and solutions.


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There is a super simple and extremely effective system that will even teach 2 and 3-year-old children to read.

Check out this Amazing Video to learn more.


The terrible truth about passing phases

As for whether a certain child behavioral problems are a passing phase or not; they all are.

Or can be.

Behaviors only become permanent when not addressed or when they get reinforced and rewarded.

If your child is disruptive to all within earshot when you’re in public and you take a lax approach, you are reinforcing that behavior.

That ensures they will continue to behave that way.

If they throw a temper tantrum because they want a juice box and you give them a juice box to quiet them down, guess what?

You just ensured they will do it again. They are learning that to get what they want they have to be disruptive. So part of child behavior problems and solutions is not reinforcing bad behavior.

As parents, our job is not to take the easy way out.

Our job is to set them up for success as an adult. Guess what doesn’t fly in the real world as an adult? You guessed it! Bratty entitled behavior.

If you are attentive, responsive, involved and lovingly hold your child accountable for their behavior, child behavior problems and solutions get much easier over time.

When do issues become real problems?

Child behavioral problems become real problems when they affect learning at school.

They also become problems when they get the child in trouble due to what they say and do with other kids.

Sometimes child behavioral problems simply make it hard for other parents with kids to want to be around your kids.

Thus if you start to see a trend with a particular negative behavior, you have to address it early and often.

You don’t want to shame your child.

But the key to child behavior problems and solutions is not letting poor behavior go without consequences.

The world won’t be kind to an adult with behavior problems.

Thus you are actually being more kind and more loving by correcting the child behavioral problems early on when it’s easier to fix.

So how do you know when a problem is really a problem?

The easiest ways will be when you see consistent changes in grades, mood, friends and negative communication from their teachers.

Children don’t have a fully developed emotional toolkit yet the way we adults (hopefully) do.  They don’t always know how to express anxiety, stress, frustrations, sadness, anger, etc.

Thus sometimes when kids feel these feelings over a longer period of time, they manifest as child behavior problems.

If you take an active role in your child’s life, child behavior problems and solutions will be readily apparent.

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If you’re looking to dive in deeper into the world of child behavior problems and solutions, I highly recommend getting one, or all of these!

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What is the appropriate response to child behavioral problems?

I like to talk to my kids as an equal.

They know I’m the parent, so I don’t need to talk down to them or talk to them like I’m superior.

In a way, it was the same when I was the GM for my former employer running large grocery stores.  I was the boss, but I didn’t need to remind everyone of that or talk to them like they were less important than I was.

That doesn’t mean (in either arena) I am a pushover, but I always start conversations the way I like to be spoken to.

You have to be loving.

You can be firm, stern or strict but when you aren’t loving at the same time that creates fear.  The old-school model of Authoritarian Parenting where you raised your kids to fear just doesn’t work.

You can’t really force your kids to respect and follow you through fear. If you try, they’ll learn to lie, cheat or steal to deceive you into thinking they are doing what you want them to do.

“Because I said so” or “do as I say, not as I do” are not how you want to parent your kids.

Love, support, being nurturing and communicating effectively, along with clear consequences are the real key to child behavior problems and solutions.

It will also help you to raise excellent children.

Avoid the absolute worse parenting styles!

If you struggle with your parenting style, I recently broke down all the most common parenting styles and compared their pros and cons.

I highly recommend checking out the 3 Worst Parenting Styles You Should Avoid at All Costs.

Avoid talking to your kids in the heat of anger.

I know if you had to leave work early to pick up your kid from the principal’s office you’re not a happy camper.

But to communicate effectively you need to be in a good headspace.

It might feel good in the moment to yell at your kid, but you’ll feel guilty later and you’re not helping them to learn the lesson.

Plus if every time there’s an issue you behave inappropriately, what kind of message are you sending to your child? Trust me; that is not an effective way to approach child behavior problems and solutions.

Middle Class Dad child behavior problems and solutions mad woman with blond hair with steam coming out of both ears

The key role of clear communication with child behavior problems and solutions

To be clear is to be kind.

Dave Ramsey actually said that phrase and while it wasn’t said regarding parenting, I think it applies perfectly to child behavioral problems.

We have to be crystal clear with our kids about:

    • What we expect from them
    • Things they can expect from us
    • The consequences of not doing what we need them to do

Don’t assume your kids know.

My kids brush their teeth every morning before school and every evening before bed.  Guess what my wife and I still often have to remind them to do?

Along those lines, don’t assume they know what is expected from them.

Let them know.  SPECIFICALLY.  If you don’t tell them exactly what you want, who’s fault is it if they don’t achieve it?

When possible, explain to the child the behavior you are seeing (without judgment).

Ask them to identify why that behavior might not be OK.  Talk to them about what they think an appropriate consequence might be. Make an agreement that everyone feels they can stick to.

When you learn to communicate clearly, effectively and without yelling, many child behavior problems and solutions become a thing of the past.

The proven power of letting your kids have some control over their lives

Middle Class Dad child behavior problems and solutions tomboy girl in combat boots and a snakeskin baseball cap with her hands on her chin looking sad or distant

Kids have VERY LITTLE say in anything in their world.  As they get older, the responsibilities grow but they still have precious little say over their life.

Thus, when it makes sense, let them make decisions about what happens to them.

Can you only afford one summer camp this year? 

Pick the best 3 in your price range and let them decide which one to go to.

Revamping their allowance/chore chart as they enter the teen years? 

Map out together what the changes to the chores and allowance amounts will be.

If you need help specifically with a chore chart, get a free copy of my customizable chore chart right here: middleclassdadchorechart

The more choices, however small, you let them make, the more control they will feel over their life.

Even further, they will feel heard, respected and validated.

You have shown them that they matter.  More and more as kids get older it can get harder and harder for them to feel like they matter.

Start that process now and child behavior problems and solutions just get easier and easier.

Self-image, confidence, and self-esteem are huge hurdles for many kids.  If you are looking for some proven ways to help your kids, I highly recommend checking out my post on the best Confidence Building Activities for kids.

The surefire way to increase bad behavior in kids

Middle Class Dadchild behavior problems and solutions sad boy with medium length brown hair leaning on a window sill while it rains outside

In my experience both as a parent but also as someone who works with kids and parents, lack of parental involvement drives many of the child behavioral problems.

Children want love.  They crave connection and attention.  They need our time.  Our support.  They want us to listen to them; to play with them.

Sometimes that’s exhausting; I get it.

But in situations where a nanny does more raising than a parent, you will find kids starved for parental attention.

Maybe the kid goes to aftercare while the 2 parents work their fingers to the bone and are exhausted by the time they all get home.

Perhaps you have a situation where another family member is raising of the kids.

In these cases not only is the child missing that connection with their parents, but they may also feel like they are to blame for somehow pushing the parents away.  “Why didn’t they love me enough to stay?”  “Maybe if I was a better child they would still be here.”

The same is true for children of divorce (of which I am one).

No matter how congenial the split, the fact remains that children don’t get to see both parents on a daily basis.

Add to that factors like moving to another city/state, absentee parents or less than amicable splits and the problems can worsen.

So putting the needs of your child first (most of the time) is one of the keys to child behavior problems and solutions.


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The terrible price kids pay with divorce

Now if you’re in a divorce situation I don’t want you to feel guilty.

That doesn’t help anyone.  The past is done and all we can do is learn from it and move forward as best as possible.

I don’t, however, want you to gloss over the issue out of shame.

In my day job, I spoke to a woman the other day about her child’s bad temper and fits of rage.  I asked a series of questions to get to the heart of the matter.

We discussed school and other changes.  Eventually 10 minutes into the conversation she admitted to having recently divorced her husband and that the Dad had not seen his son in a year.

The problem is there whether we pretend it is or isn’t.

This kind of situation literally pours gas onto child behavioral problems. Thus, you and your former spouse need to put aside petty differences and squabbles and focus on what’s best for the kid(s).

Sometimes that’s hard, especially if the other spouse is more interested in revenge for an assumed wrong than what’s best for the kids.  That shouldn’t stop you, however, from doing what’s right even if they don’t.

If you think your marriage is in trouble or you just want to keep it in top shape, I recently researched the Top 3 Reasons for Divorce and How You Can Avoid Them. It’s well worth checking out!

Of course, some other child behavioral problems could also be attributed to a learning disability such as dyslexia.  Or possibly even a food allergy or just not going to bed early enough.

Also, you may notice I haven’t once used the term disorder.

To me, while I know there are some kids who may genuinely have a disorder, I think we’re all too quick these days to slap a label on behavior and head to the pharmacy.

I think we owe it to our kids to keep searching for answers until we find them and not just reach for medication at the first sign of trouble.

While medication may be genuinely needed in some cases, I think we’re WAY over-prescribed as a society.

Around the time of the death of rock star Chris Cornell, I did a post specifically on the problem of Overmedication.  If you’re not sure what I mean, that post could be well worth checking out.

What is a disruptive behavior disorder?

Essentially there are 2 types of behaviors that fall under this header. Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) and conduct disorder (CD).

According to CHADD, the National Resource on ADHD, “Common symptoms occurring in children with these disorders include defiance of authority figures, angry outbursts, and other antisocial behaviors such as lying and stealing. It is felt that the difference between oppositional defiant disorder and conduct disorder is in the severity of symptoms and that they may lie on a continuum often with a developmental progression from ODD to CD with increasing age.”

They go on to say “Approximately one-third to one-half of all children with ADHD may have coexisting oppositional defiant disorder.” and “Children with ADHD and CD are often at higher risk for contact with the police and the court system than children with ADHD alone.”

Thus if you think your child behavioral problems go beyond the scope of what I’ve discussed above, you should definitely seek out a medical professional or other experts in that area.

How do you deal with Oppositional Defiant Disorder?

The most common behaviors that children and adolescents with ODD show are:

• Defiance
• Spitefulness
• Negativity
• Hostility & aggression

The causes of these types of disorders vary, as does the consensus among professionals.

However, the American Academy of Adolescent Psychiatry seems to concur with a number of things I’ve addressed in my post.  But they go on to add parents with drug or alcohol issues, abuse, neglect, and other mostly environmental factors.

Their recommended treatments include family therapy, social programs, and training for the children on how to better self-regulate themselves and their emotions.

I would also add enrolling them in a martial arts program could be a great way to bolster confidence, self-esteem and resilience.

If you want more on that subject, since my day job is helping run a large martial arts school, check out my post about how to find a great martial arts school for your child.

So what are my . . .

7 Worst Child Behavior Problems and Solutions for You?

1. DEFIANCE

Defiance is simply your child trying to exert a little control over their lives.

Kids naturally feel like they have no say in their lives.  What time they get up (at least weekdays), where they go, what they do, what they watch (or don’t watch) are all controlled for them.

Thus, as they get older, it’s natural for them to start to feel frustration over that and take a stand.

Since they are still developing emotionally, their defiance isn’t always done at the right time and place for the right reasons and thus can create conflict.

SOLUTION – When possible without driving yourself crazy, give your kids choices.  We do crock pot dinners in our house a couple times a week.

My girls started to complain about me always making the same thing, so we sat down together and they each picked a recipe they liked.

Give them options you approve of (for any category of choice) and let them pick.  When they feel like they have a little say in their life and don’t feel totally controlled, child behavior problems and solutions get easier.

2. AGGRESSION

Aggression towards you or others is a sign your child is hurt or scared.  In fact, that’s true even if you’re talking about a grown man.

Fear & insecurity drives aggression.  Want to curb this damaging behavior before it gets your child in trouble at school or elsewhere?  You have to figure out what they are scared of.

SOLUTION – Look at your own life and home situation and be honest with yourself.

Is there divorce or separation?  Perhaps you or your spouse are aggressive or abusive toward the other?

There’s no shame in admitting a mistake or recognizing a need to change a behavior.  There is shame in pretending the issue isn’t there.  If it’s an issue that can be remedied, focus on that and making your child feel safe.

In a divorce situation at the very least focus on trying to have an open and amicable relationship with your ex. Don’t let negative feelings towards them interfere with their access to their kids.

3. LYING

Why do kids lie?  They lie because they are afraid of the repercussions of telling the truth.

Now if we’re talking a 15-year-old who stole a car, that’s one thing.  But for the purposes of this blog, we’re hopefully finding these child behavior problems and solutions early.

If your child is lying about whether they brushed their teeth or did their homework (and note: lying is different than genuinely forgetting), we have to look at ourselves.

SOLUTION – If our kids are afraid to tell you us the truth, that’s a failure in us.

Our kids should respect us, love us and obey us, but if they are genuinely afraid of us we’re doing it wrong.  You can hold your child accountable and set boundaries and consequences and still do it in a loving, but firm, way.

Do that consistently and make sure your kids don’t doubt for a second that you love them and there will be no reason to lie.

4. DISRUPTIVE

We’ve all seen those kids.  The ones at restaurants or other public places who are just out of control.

They run wild, knocking into stuff and people seemingly without consequence from an oblivious parent.

If your child is acting out in a way that interferes with others you need to take a look at how you parent.  It’s one thing to let them grow and develop and to “let kids be kids” but that should not come at the expense of unwilling bystanders.

SOLUTION – Kids crave structure.  They need boundaries and consequences for poor choices.

More than anything they want attention for their parents.  When there’s a lack of structure and guidelines (basically a lack of parenting) or the parent spends more time on their phone than with their kid, children will naturally act out.  If that’s how we parent regularly, we will see this disruptive behavior regularly.

As parents, we have to parent.

We can love our kids and enjoy spending time with them, but our primary job after safety is to prepare them for the world.

We aren’t doing them any favors by setting them up to believe they can do whatever they want whenever they want with no consequence.

5. DEPRESSION

Depression is all too common with kids these days.

Feeling bad about one’s self on a regular basis is what feeds and creates the depression.

Almost anything can trigger this; poor grades (and your reaction to those), changing schools frequently (and thus consistently losing friends), bullying, divorce, physical or sexual abuse or parents who are addicts, are just some of the causes.

We have to take this seriously when we see signs.  According to a recent CDC report, almost 30% of students they surveyed admitted to feeling sad or hopeless frequently and 17% had considered suicide.

SOLUTION – If you identify things in the above list you are contributing to the problem we have to start with our actions and choices.

If we have made mistakes (and we have!) it’s important that we be open (in an age-appropriate way) and honest with our kids.

They know we aren’t perfect so when we pretend we are we just look like hypocrites.  Talk to your kids, spend time with your kids.

More importantly, if they push you away, don’t respond negatively to that or push them away.

They are testing you.  They want to know if you love them enough to stay connected even when they push you away.  I’m not saying that’s easy but it is necessary.

But the key to child behavior problems and solutions is staying strong even when the going gets tough.

6. BULLYING

This ties in closely with the above, but in my context, I’m talking about what to do if our kids are doing the bullying.

If your child is a bully, as I said in #2, that’s a sign they are afraid and insecure.

They are trying to mask the fear and insecurity by making themselves feel superior or dominant to another.

The trouble (aside from injuring others) is this doesn’t work.  The more someone bullies and doesn’t truly feel more secure, the more they desperately repeat the cycle in the hopes of feeling whole again.

SOLUTION – If your child is being accused of bullying, we have to understand the root of their fear or insecurity.

It could be any one of a number of the issues we’ve already discussed; divorce, parental absence, addiction or neglect.

Once we understand why our child is insecure then we can both begin to fix that and work on developing other, more healthy, outlets for their feelings.

Just punishing them alone isn’t going to fix anything; they’ll just get better at not getting caught.

That has a high probability of them ending up in a correctional facility down the road and we don’t want that.

7. BEING AFRAID

Fear, as I’ve mentioned, is at the heart of a lot of these child behavior problems and solutions.

In fact, I would go so far as to say fear is the biggest issue ALL of us face every day.  We often live our lives in fear rather than accepting that risk is a part of life.

People lie, cheat and steal their way through life to avoid admitting we’re just afraid.  We fight with our spouse because we’re afraid to admit they are right or that we made a mistake.

We fear being left, so we leave a relationship first.  Fear is our #1 enemy.

For our kids, we have to walk a fine line.  We want them to be informed and aware of things like stranger danger.  But we don’t want them fleeing every time a stranger looks their way.

SOLUTION – Confidence beats fear every day of the week.

To raise confident kids we have to help them learn to feel good about themselves by their own observations about how their accomplishments make them feel.

It can’t all be based on grades or you saying “good job”; those are all external factors.  If their feelings of self-worth are 100% tied up in what others think and say, what happens when those voices go silent?

No; they have to feel good about their own accomplishments.

That doesn’t mean we can’t praise them or acknowledge when they did well.  But instead of saying “good job”, ask them how they feel about their achievement.

If you can raise your child to feel confident from their own intrinsic motivation rather than solely external praise, fear won’t even be a factor in their lives.

When that happens, child behavior problems and solutions just might become a thing of the past.


With the right tools, knowledge, and techniques, teaching young children to read can be a simple and effective process.

I’d like to introduce you to a fantastic reading program called Children Learning Reading, a super effective method for teaching children to read – even children as young as just 2 or 3 years old.

Check out this Amazing Video to learn more.


Did I cover everything you were looking for in child behavior problems and solutions?

In this post, we took a hard look at some of the worst behavior issues parents and teachers alike are seeing today.

But more importantly, we looked at solutions you can implement today for a better tomorrow. Solutions that can bring peace & sanity back to your house and your family.

Specifically, we looked at the 7 worst child behavior problems and solutions.

Any tips or ideas you have on child behavioral problems?

Feel free to comment here or email me with any questions as I am here to help!

If you like this post, please follow my Parenting board on Pinterest for more great tips from myself and top parenting experts!

Middle Class Dad child behavior problems and solutions Jeff Campbell bio

Photo credits (that aren’t mine or which require attribution):
scream and shout by Mindaugas Danys is licensed under CC BY 2.0
why would you wanna break a perfectly good heart? by suez92 is licensed under CC BY 2.0
I hear in my mind; all these voices. (213) by Meg Willis is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Of course I have to add in here that I am not a medical professional or a mental health professional. I’m a father and I work with kids in my day job and while I have a lot of experience doing and seeing parenting rights and wrongs, if you have questions or concerns you should seek the advice of a qualified professional.

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