Toileting; bedwetting, soiling,
Eating problems: Overeating, under eating, pica.
Inappropriate sexual behavior,
Lying, Stealing, Destructiveness, Severe Shyness, Severe fearfulness, Obsessive behavior.
Regardless of how loving and careful parents are in bringing up their children, sometimes things go wrong. The problems that arise may be temporary or off longer duration. For parents, such problems are frustrating since they may hear a great deal of contradictory “advice” from others, ranging from the need for more or less punishment, more affection or less indulgence to recommendations for various therapies. And often the child with behavior problems is shunned by her peers; hand in hand with that goes shunning of the child’s parents by the parents of her peers. All in all, it is a painful and isolating experience for the entire family.
Problem behavior ranges from bedwetting to destructiveness and inappropriate sexual behavior. Although all children periodically behave in ways that are unacceptable, such behavior is worrisome only when it is extreme and/ or persists over a long period of time. Parents may sometimes feel that a child with a behavioral problem is being manipulative or vindictive. It should be realized, however, that preschoolers are generally too young to behave in a calculated way. Rather than labeling the behavior, it is best to investigate what lies behind it.
It’s not easy to pin down a cause or causes of problem behavior – many problems may result from multiple contributing factors. Sometimes inborn chemistry or genetics plays a part, sometimes it’s a matter of environmental influences, and these may sometimes, but not always, be attributed to parenting shortcomings.
It is important that parents not take the full burden of responsibility on them- selves, either for the cause or the cure. If your child is exhibiting problems that persist, seem very different from those of other children her age, or do not yield to your reasonable approach, discuss the issue with your child’s doctor. You may be relieved to learn that your child’s behavior actually falls within the “normal” range. The solution may simply be a matter of altering your own approach or certain aspects of home life. On the other hand, the problem may require more specialized professional attention.
It is equally important not to avoid the problem or deny that it exists. Although it is a natural impulse to wish such difficulties away – insisting they are just a “phase” the child is going through or a peculiarity of her “nature” – great harm can be done to a child by deferring action. There’s a real possibility that the behavior is caused by an underlying factor that needs to be treated; it could be anything from bladder and bowel abnormalities, hearing or sight problems to a learning disabilities such as dyslexia, which may cause the child to behave inappropriately in school setting. And while her parents are hoping “it will pass,” the child may suffer in her social, physical, and intellectual development.
The best thing to do is face the problem, consult the pediatrician (and, if need be, other professionals), and work on solutions. The happy fact is that most children can be helped with remarkable speed if appropriate action is taken early on.