Helping children learn to manage their behavior, while still expressing their emotions and getting their needs met, is one of the more daunting responsibilities of adults. You might have heard children described as having “challenging behavior” and wondered what this term actually means. Unfortunately, there is no universally accepted definition of “challenging behavior” among health and mental health professionals. However, challenging behaviors can be described as repeated patterns of behavior that interfere with a child’s ability to learn and be engaged in pro-social interactions. It might be helpful to think about whether a particular behavior is typical for children at a particular age or developmental stage.

If you are not sure whether a child’s behavior is cause for concern, you should talk with their caregivers, your co-workers and other professionals to determine what kind and what level of response is needed. Strategies can be identified for dealing with the behavior in a way that supports the child’s healthy development. Parents can be a powerful resource for understanding the child’s behavior.

Please take a look at the Challenging Behavior Tool. This tool was established to provide educators with support and a means of screening in order to best meet the child’s social and emotional needs in the classroom and beyond.

Other Resources:

Sharing Concerns with Parents

Challenging Behavior Tool