Unexpected changes in behavior can be stressful for both you and your child. However, there’s no need to worry — behavioral change is completely normal and a natural part of child development.
As a parent, guardian, or caretaker, there’s a lot you can do to help your youngster navigate this challenging time. Learn how to deal with children’s changing behaviors by exploring common causes, signs, and behavior management techniques.
Why Does Behavior Change Occur?
Behavioral changes in kids typically stem from internal factors — like mood and mental health struggles — or external factors such as stressful life situations and physical environment.
Here are some examples of factors that can affect behavior:
- Physical factors like age, health, or influence of a substance
- Emotional and personal factors like mental health, personality, stress, and emotions
- Life events involving family, friends, or school
- The environment — noise, heat, light, and privacy
As a result of these factors, parents may notice their child having frequent temper tantrums, growing more impatient, or exhibiting other unusual behaviors. Teens may experience mood swings, sleep more, struggle with their appearance, or start to show patterns of withdrawal. In more serious cases, they may turn to substances to cope.
For these reasons, it’s important to teach your child positive behavior change. This includes modeling good behaviors, listening actively to your child’s feelings and needs, and creating a safe, healthy environment at home.
5 Signs of Situations That Lead to Behavior Change
Certain physical, emotional, and personal factors can lead to changes in a child’s behavior. Let’s explore situations that often bring on these factors.
Many physical and emotional changes take place during puberty, all of which can influence behavior. Some common behavior changes during this developmental stage include:
- Mood swings and energy level variations
- The desire to establish one’s own identity
- Physical changes and sensitivity about physical appearance
- Increased need for privacy, independence, and personal space
- The need to push boundaries, take risks, and question parental rules
Your teen may also develop new friendships or start to withdraw more. Showing an interest in relationships or hobbies or losing interest in academics can be normal and may fluctuate from week to week or even daily. In addition to major physical and bodily changes, many emotional changes are taking place. That said, puberty is a time of great change for both teens and their parents.
There will be times when your child is difficult to get along with or refuses to communicate. It’s important to provide reassurance, support them through their physical and emotional changes, model positive behavior, and respect their need for more privacy. It’s important to remain as calm, steady, and structured as possible, remembering to set proper boundaries and disciplinary measures. Although your teen may act out and test established boundaries, in a time of such widespread and sometimes overwhelming.
2. Stressful Life Events
Stressful and sometimes traumatic life events can spark personality or behavior changes. While everyone reacts to stressful life events in different ways, some types of behavioral change may include a lack of focus and motivation, restlessness, depression or anxiety, social withdrawal, or irritability.
Below are some stressful life events that may cause behavior changes in your child:
- Bullying: Signs like unexplainable injuries, lost or destroyed property, changes in eating habits, changes in social or friend groups, difficulty sleeping, and declining grades may indicate that your child is being bullied.
- Divorce: Divorce can be a difficult time for the whole family, especially for children. The effects of divorce on children can include poor academic performance, social decline, and irritability.
- Loss of a loved one: The recent death of a family member is a difficult and confusing time for a child. This can easily result in behavioral and emotional changes.
- Moving: Moving to a new location with unfamiliar people and surroundings is a big change for children that can take a toll on their social-emotional well-being. Frequent moving may cause a decline in social skills and behavioral problems.
Mood changes are quite common in children and can happen at any age. Moodiness can be a result of puberty or simply a natural change in behavior. It’s most common during adolescence and can stem from factors like hormones, peer pressure, and academic struggles. When children try to discover where they fit into society, they often experience episodes of moodiness and a rollercoaster of emotions.
4. Friendship or Relationship Changes
Another possible cause of sudden behavior changes in kids is a change in a long-time friendship or relationship. When your child experiences relationship conflicts and loses a friend as a result, it can be tough on their emotional health and well-being. Additionally, when your child makes new friends, they can be easily influenced by the behaviors of others and start to exhibit different behaviors themselves.
5. Loss of Interest
You may find that your child’s behavioral changes are accompanied by a loss of interest in things they once enjoyed — whether it’s extracurricular activities, friendships, or hobbies. Teens may go through bouts of dissatisfaction with their current activities or feel they aren’t “cut out” for what they once enjoyed.
As a result, they may feel the need to branch out and explore new interests. Trying to discover what they’re good at or where they fit in can cause major emotional and behavioral changes. Encouraging your child to try out new clubs and activities may help reveal untapped skills and interests.
3 Ways to Manage Your Child’s Changing Behavior
Every child is different, meaning certain techniques may be more effective than others. While the methods below are simply suggestions, you may find one or more of them to be effective with your youngster. Here are three behavior management techniques to try:
- Communicate openly: If you notice unusual behaviors in your child, attempt to pinpoint the problem — whether it’s family tensions, puberty, or bullying at school. Try talking with your child and encourage them to express their feelings. Tell them you plan to be a great listener and are there for support. This way, you can address any potential problems.
- Consult a professional: If behavioral changes persist or worsen, consider psychological therapy. Whether you reach out to a counseling professional for advice and tips, or your child agrees to attend sessions to speak directly with the counselor, a professional can help facilitate discussion and identify underlying problems.
- Remove them from a problematic situation: Removing your child from a toxic environment — like a school with bullies — may be a way to address negative behavior changes. Bullying and safety concerns are a reason many parents decide to make the switch to cyber schooling.
Learn How CCA Supports Students Through Tough Times
At CCA, ensuring every student feels safe and comfortable in our online learning environment is a top priority. That’s why we provide family mentor programs and anti-bullying resources for behavioral, mental, and emotional health.
At CCA, we understand our responsibility to protect students from bullying. Our network of personal, family, and academic resources aims to help victims heal and thrive. In addition, our keen oversight and frequent communication with families build a respectful school culture that stamps out bullying at the first signs. School should be about learning and, at CCA, great care is taken to protect all learners and support their successes in academics and beyond.