When talking about something as important as dealing with a difficult child, the elephant in the room is the child’s temperament. Managing children’s behavior can be challenging. These children generally have difficulty expressing their emotions, and there is no, single and easy way to deal with challenging children. We’ve laid out some steps you can take to better gauge and handle behavioral issues.
Breaking down temperament
Temperament can be influenced by many factors. Here some of the most common ones:
- Reactions: The way children respond to a new situation, which could be people, new places, stimulating environments such as playgrounds, food, as well as any changes in their daily routine. A child with a difficult personality may not respond well at first and may never fully acclimate to new situations.
- Mood: A good thing about mood is that it’s usually easy to detect and, therefore, correct. Challenging children will usually get affected by their surroundings and fall into a negative mood. This will be almost immediately obvious from their words and actions.
- Concentration: No discussion about challenging children is complete without mentioning attention span issues. Acronyms such as ADD and ADHD have been flying around a lot the last couple of decades. Nevertheless, the truth is that modern psychology still does not fully understand what causes these issues. Work with the child’s parents or guardians to address your concerns about concentration levels.
- Emotions: The amount of exposure required to get excited or stimulated to a situation determines the emotional threshold. Obviously, it will be distinct for different children. Challenging children may have low-than-average emotional threshold limits.
How to deal with a challenging child
Start with you
The first thing to do is to consider how your behavior and temperament will affect the situation. Children, no matter how difficult or easy they are to deal with, almost always look up to adults. So how you approach and talk to a challenging child can have a huge impact. Remember, many kids pick up on adults’ non-verbals like body language.
Perhaps the best way to talk with a challenging child is by taking the neutral approach. This way, you will be able to look at things with an objective standpoint. Responding to children in an emotional and instinctive way rarely helps to defuse a situation.
It’s not personal
Remember, when a child misbehaves or throws a tantrum, he or she is reacting to something at the moment. It’s rarely personally directed at you, even if it seems that way. The importance of not taking it personally and maintaining your cool cannot be overstressed.
At some point, you will need to prioritize according to what issues deserve more attention. A good way to start is by looking at issues requiring immediate attention. Whenever a challenging child does something positive, praise him or her. Positive reinforcement can build self-esteem and self-confidence.
The fact is, there is no one-size-fits-all way to help challenging children overcome their difficult behavior. Each child — challenging or not — has his or her own unique behavior types. With that in mind, it’s on teachers and parents to develop the patience and flexibility required to help kids grow up to be responsible adults.