12 Common Unwanted Behaviors in Kids and How To Handle Them

How do you handle Unwanted Behaviors in kids? And what are even some unwanted behaviors examples? We are going to find out about all that in this article!

When people say they want babies, it’s common to hear replies like, “the baby only lasts a year.”

While this might sound like a sadistic ideology, it’s true. The baby version of your little human lasts only a year. By the age of one, children are already filled with so much energy with a burning desire for exploration.

Watching your baby grow is both beautiful and stressful. Just like adult humans, the little ones get bad moments too. They get stressed, tired, and exhausted. It’s harder for them because they do not understand these feelings nor do they know how to communicate them. This often results in them acting out, and the parents often get worked up.

If this narrative sounds similar, hang on. This article will be covering some of the most common bad and unwanted behaviors in kids, and the most appropriate ways to handle them.


When To Worry About Your Toddler’s Behavior

Toddlers sometimes display unacceptable behaviors. Usually, it’s from a place of discomfort. Once the parents connect to the child, the issue can be resolved. But, this is not always the case.

It is wrong to interpret all your child’s behavior as acting out or throwing tantrums. Some behavioral traits are a sign of an underlying condition. Parents are advised to take note of their children’s behavioral patterns and see a psychologist if any of the scenarios below sounds familiar.

Self Harm

It’s normal for your child to throw tantrums once in a while. It becomes a call for worry if the frequency of this behavior becomes too much. Usually, tantrums that come with self-harming behaviors like hitting against a wall or cutting through their skin can be a sign of a disorder. See a pediatrician and table your observations.

Harming Others

Most toddlers that self-harm do things that cause others pain. Hitting on their peers is a common outlet for expressing themselves. This behavior is very bad and has to be nipped in the bud. The first step is consulting a pediatrician to confirm if your child is suffering from a condition. Afterward, see a child therapist or psychologist that specializes in helping children develop healthy emotional outlets.

Sitting in a Place

Children are known to be restless creatures. The absence of that sense of restiveness in your child should push you to raise an alarm. This can have several root causes. Your pediatrician should guide you in identifying what could be wrong with your baby. But before that, try to bond more with your child to understand what the problem is. Ask them questions.

Sometimes children isolate themselves because they are hurt, scared, or sick.

Selective Eating

Have you tried to feed your toddler only to feel exhausted? It does not have to be this way.

Selective eating has both a positive and negative side to it. This is the major reason parents should pay attention to their children’s feeding habits. It’s okay for your child to have specific tastes when it comes to what they choose to eat. What’s not okay is refusing to eat everything they are offered or choosing to eat only junk.

This can cause nutritional problems. As your child is growing, they need a balanced and healthy diet. It’s easy to slip and let your child escape every time they reject their meals. This is something parents should be mindful of.

Research shows that children with selective eating patterns rarely get over the habit. It often progresses into serious eating disorders. A licensed feeding expert should be able to help your child overcome this.

However, see your pediatrician before hiring a feeding expert. There may be other things attached to selective eating behavior.

Speech Mistakes

Toddlers are often too busy adding new words to their vocabulary that they never notice the warm laughter that comes after each word they say wrongly. This can be a really sweet moment for the toddler’s parent or guardian.

It’s very normal for children to pronounce words wrongly but sometimes, this can be linked to a speech problem. Don’t be in a hurry to panic. This is only a speculation. Pay close attention as your child speaks. Visit your pediatrician if you notice anything unusual. Spotting speech problems early makes it easy to manage and correct.

Troubled Sleeping

The reason behind a child’s refusal to sleep goes beyond restiveness. Some children start to have nightmares from the age of two. They often have trouble differentiating it from reality, and it could leave them scared and even anxious.

If your child is resisting naps during the day, let them be. By the end of the day, they should be worn out and exhausted. Refusal to sleep in this case should be a confirmation that they are scared of sleeping. Try to understand your child’s cues. Do they give in to sleeping after a lot of pressure? Do they wake up from sleep crying or frightened?

An easy way to combat the situation is reading longer bedtime stories and holding your child in your arms while they sleep. This would make them feel safe and protected. You can keep doing this till your child overcomes the fear. If all of this fails, discuss it with a doctor. A sleep expert that focuses on children would also have helpful insights to offer.


Common Unwanted Behaviors In Kids And How to Handle Them


1. Frequent Show of Aggression

The general belief among psychologists is that children are born empty. Empty in the sense of having little knowledge about how to live and survive in our world. By extension, most traits displayed by your child are learned behavior, including aggression.

Screaming back at your child or yelling only compounds the problem at hand. The first thing to do is try to understand why your child turns to aggression to express him or herself. This is necessary because if left unchecked, you may be raising a potential bully.

Teach your child other ways of expressing their emotions. Whenever your child acts this way, remove them from the situation and make them sit still for at most two minutes. When your child becomes calm, you can let them go. Don’t be in a haste to declare your disapproval. After a while, let your child know you are not comfortable with their behavior. Tell them about other ways to show displeasure like talking calmly or walking from the scene.

Set rewards and be patient. Be encouraging and celebrate each time they earn a reward. Let them know you are proud of their good behavior. 

2. Lying

This is one the commonest unwanted behaviors in kids. Children below the age of three do not lie. If they tell you anything, believe them. Wait, don’t get me wrong. What I mean is children below the age of three do not lie because all they ever narrate is real or imagined. They still don’t understand their imagination is separate from reality.

Well, what about a child above three? Okay, that’s one lying. Here is what to do. Start by helping them handle the outcome of their actions. Then, ask them who could be responsible. Do this without scolding or showing you are angry. Tell them stories about honesty. Encourage them to tell the truth by rewarding them each time they do.

3. Shouting

Toddlers love to scream especially when they are yet to learn how to express themselves properly. Screaming is a way of communicating their wants, needs and most times testing their energy. It can be hard to ignore this as the whole place gets noisy and when you are in public, it can be embarrassing.

The biggest mistake a parent can make is shouting back. This creates the belief that screaming is a way to communicate. Instead, understand why they are screaming. If they want your attention, give them that. If they are looking for a playmate which is likely the case, join them, create something fun and play along.

However, do not fall for the screaming when you realize your child is using it as an avenue to always get what they want.

4. Interrupting Conversations

Your baby doesn’t even know they are doing this except when they are older than four. At this age, ideas move through their head like a flash so they have to say it immediately to avoid forgetting. The only reason this causes conflict is that the adults are unable to understand the child’s situation.

The coolest way to curb this is to keep your child away and busy when having important conversations. Give them things to play with or leave them among other children. Try not to get offended whenever they do this. As they age, they would come to terms with the fact that the world does not revolve around them.

5. Constant Running

It’s okay if your toddler wants to test limits and exercise their muscles. The problem here is the potential harm this could cause. Would yelling stop them? No. Issuing warnings? No. Joining them? Yes.

This may seem like an annoying suggestion but the way to get your child to stop running is to run along with them but not after them. Incite them to run after you or catch you. They often give in to this trick. Allow them to catch you. Celebrate them like they won and move on to do what you have to do. This behavior declines with time.

6. Hair Pulling

Children are fast learners so our reactions have to be prompt as this goes a long way in determining what behavioral trait lives or dies. Hair pulling is a common behavior with toddlers. They do it in a bid to be noticed and it’s very normal. But, just because it is normal doesn’t mean it is right.

While trying to correct the behavior, do not pull their hair back. Always remove their hands gently when you find them doing this. Before releasing the hand, tell them it’s not okay to pull hair. It may take a while before this behavior stops completely. [Read: How to Stop Baby Pulling And Eating Their Hair]

7. Snitching

Snitching is one of the unwanted behaviors in kids. Your child’s love for your attention could turn him or her into a little gossip or tattler.  This can ruin her relationship with her siblings and friends if it’s not checked. Most of the time, your child barely understands the consequence of their actions.

Whenever your child does this, politely tell them you would only give a listening ear if they want to talk about themselves. Let them know that constantly reporting what they see others doing is wrong. Some experts believe asking your child to draw the situation makes the action more tasking and decreases the frequency of reoccurring.

8. Making Fun of Others

Sometimes this behavior is not intentional. Other times, it’s done in a bid to gain the upper hand in a situation. Whenever you find your child doing this, ground them for a few minutes and discuss the effects of their words who they teased. Help them cultivate empathy.

Teach them to lighten the effect of their actions by following it up with a good deed. If they teased a sibling, ask them to help the sibling with a chore or look after them. Where the teased is a friend, give them the assignment of coming up with something nice. Ensure they verbally apologize to their victim and admit they were wrong.

9. Throwing Tantrums

There are several reasons why your child throws tantrums. This ranges from feelings of anger, frustration, or overwhelm. It is often hard to calm your child especially when the tantrum is displayed in public. However, do not yell or scream.

Gently pick your child up to a quiet area and make them sit there. Tell them that’s where they would stay until they become calm.

Sometimes, your child may be upset about how certain events turned out. If you know the reason for their behavior, ask them to get confirmation. Tell them you could not understand because they were not calm and that effective communication can only be done when they are calm.

In some cases, the tantrum gets out of control. Seeing a doctor should help. It’s likely your child is facing something deeper than you perceive.

10. Long-drawn Crying

Toddlers want to be acknowledged when they express themselves. It is more common for a child to raise their voice and whine when they feel like they have been ignored. Pay attention to your child whenever they are trying to express themselves.

Other reasons for whining include a desire to be seen or get in control. It has been proven that yelling programs your child to act that way. Be a good example. Don’t make them wait for too long, as toddlers are generally impatient. Identify things that trigger this behavior and tackle it.

11. Throwing Objects

Your child is only puzzled at how things drop and probably breaks when they throw them. His or her child-like imagination is very far from your adult reality. Try not to freak out.

When you discover the throwing habit, give them a toy they can throw like a ball. Take them on a house tour letting them know what they can and can’t throw. Where the behavior persists, deprive them of the object they are throwing. If your child happens to be dropping food from their plate, take away the food. Ignore what comes after this and only feed them the next time they say they are hungry.

12. Biting

There are several unwanted behaviors in kids that they (toddlers) display and most of them disappear before the age of four or five. Biting is one of the unwholesome behaviors. As we have discussed so far, do not reward your child with attention when they do this.

Move them from the scene whenever they bite someone. Tell them their behavior is wrong. Take them to a quiet place in the house until they become calm.