Puzzling behavior in kids
When my children were babies, we would work hard to explain each new period of fussiness. Did he have an ear infection? Was she teething? It was a relief when they grew older and could tell me what hurt! But even older children and teens sometimes have difficulty describing what is wrong. And the possible reasons for upset just expand with age. For instance, being cranky and uncooperative can be a result of depression, peer problems, developmental changes, physical pain, rebellion, and more. Without knowing the cause, it can be hard to know how to respond. Here are a few suggestions until you find more pieces of the puzzle:
*Keep track of the puzzling behavior. Notes you make about when the behavior happens and what occurred right before and after may help you solve the mystery. And if you need to seek help, you will save time by having more information to start with.
*Make a few guesses about what might be causing the behavior and think about the best response to each underlying problem. You can then try some of these responses out while keeping an open mind about the best plan.
*Encourage your child to observe his or her own behavior at whatever level makes sense. For a young child that might mean using a feelings chart to show you the face of the emotion they experience. Teens may be able to keep a journal of their own or use an app like moodkit.
Similar to what doctors suggest for unclear physical symptoms, watchful waiting is a good first step as long as there are no safety concerns. If the puzzling behavior does not get better or the underlying cause remains a mystery, it’s time to seek help. Contact me.