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  • Dr. Jennifer Palmer

Child Behavior Challenges: When to See a Specialist



Many children go through periods of time where they are more stubborn, defiant, or difficult to work with. It is important for parents and providers to understand children’s behaviors and to know when more support is needed.


Children with developmental differences & behaviors

Children with developmental disabilities can struggle to communicate their wants, needs, and frustrations. Because of this, it is common for these children to act in ways that can look like “bad behavior” to an outsider. For example, they may throw tantrums, not follow directions, or even become aggressive. Often, these children have reasons behind why they are acting out. It is up to us, as providers, parents, and teachers, to understand those reasons and to provide these children with appropriate supports.

When to get more support

It is important to get behavior support when one or more of the following are occurring:

  • Behavior difficulties are intense, long-lasting, and/or happening daily

  • You feel frustrated, angry, or hopeless about your child’s behaviors

  • You feel like the parenting tools you have been using do not seem to be working as well as they used to

  • You often feel as though you have to “give in” for your child to behave

  • Your child’s behaviors are getting in the way of them learning at school and/or in therapies

  • Your child’s behaviors are making it hard for them to make friends

  • Your child is causing harm to themselves and/or others

What behavior support looks like

Experts in child and adolescent behavior can work with families to help reduce a child’s challenging behaviors as well as to build a child’s positive and appropriate behaviors. This often involves a psychologist working with the child’s family to best understand the child, to discover why the child is acting in a certain way, and to guide and support the child and family in using new techniques and learning new skills.


Quick behavior tips:

  • Catch your child being good and praise them!

  • Avoid power struggles by removing toys, snacks, or other items you do not want your child to have.

  • Make expectations clear and reward your child for following them.

  • Give your child small choices throughout the day (e.g., "should we turn the tablet off in 1 or 2 minutes?")

More questions? Call Konick and Associates (630.206.4060) for more information or to schedule a consultation with a behavior specialist.

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