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Behavioral Problems

Behavioral problems are commonly seen in children.  There are going to be times when children become angry and defiant.  While this is normal, if a pattern of the behavior persists and starts to cause problems for the child at home, in peer relationships, or at school, it would be important for them to be evaluated by a professional.

What are symptoms of behavioral problems?

Symptoms that may warrant further evaluation include:

  • Refusing to comply with caregiver/adults’ requests
  • Being argumentative
  • Very easily annoyed, irritated, angered
  • Spiteful and vindictive
  • Verbally and physically aggressive to people and animals
  • Destruction of property
  • A pattern of deceitfulness
  • Theft
  • Serious violations of rules or the law
  • School problems that could include truancy, changes in grades, non-compliance, aggression, and disrespect towards peers or school staff

How are behavioral problems diagnosed?

Diagnosing behavioral problems incorporates a variety of assessment strategies.  A therapist/psychologist would conduct an initial clinical interview with parents and child to help determine the behavioral problem of concern.  Such an interview would include questions about the behaviors, level of daily functioning, developmental milestones, peer and family relationships, traumatic events, academic functioning, and high-risk behaviors.  Anxiety and depression are also commonly assessed due to the high prevalence of the symptoms co-occurring with behavioral concerns.  Per parent permissions, information is also gathered from third parties if behaviors are being displayed in other settings outside of the home.  Behavioral rating scales might also be used. 

How are behavioral problems treated?

The types of behavioral concerns and age of the child will guide treatment.  Generally treatment includes therapy or medication or a combination of the two.  Therapy can include parent strategies to help manage the behavior, and individual strategies to help improve the child’s ability to cope with frustrating situations, as well as learn more effective decision-making and problem-solving skills.  Often family therapy is also recommended as behavioral problems can occur when a child is experiencing a family change or stressor.

For more information or to request an evaluation and treatment, please contact Children’s Behavioral Health at (402) 955-3900.

© Children's Hospital & Medical Center | In Affiliation with University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Medicine