5 Tips for Parenting a Difficult Child

Lately, you’ve been having trouble with the day-to-day responsibilities of parenting. Perhaps the negative changes in your child’s behavior have been gradual, or maybe these changes occurred suddenly. Either way, it’s become more and more difficult to parent your child, deal with tantrums and conflicts, and implement fair consequences for their behavior.

You don’t necessarily want to think of your child as “difficult,” yet you can’t help but worry about these shifts in their behavior. These challenges might just be growing pains, and many children go through “difficult” stages. However, regardless of the circumstances, there are a few ways you can address the situation. Here are some basic tips for parenting a difficult child.

1. Investigate Potential Root Causes

Your child’s tendency to “act out” might be a symptom of something bigger. Think back to when these behaviors began. It may be connected to a tumultuous time for your child. Perhaps you had recently moved, suffered a loss in your family, separated from your partner, or even welcomed a new younger sibling into your household.

It’s also worth considering if your child might be having trouble with their peers in school or dealing with bullying. If they’re stressed about school, they might lash out at home.

Finally, if you’re concerned that your child might be dealing with a mental health condition or behavioral disorder, work with a therapist or school counselor to ensure that they are properly evaluated. That way, your child will be able to get the support and treatment they need.

2. Be Consistent

When you’re trying a new approach to conflict management, communication, discipline, or setting household rules, consistency is crucial. You might feel like giving up at times, but sticking with a particular system will give you the necessary time to see if it’s benefitting your child or not. Children need consistency in terms of their routines, and you may find that your child’s behavior improves with a stronger sense of structure in their life.

3. Keep Calm In Front Of Your Child

Staying calm and cool when your child is being difficult is certainly easier said than done. However, taking out your frustration on your child can exacerbate arguments or tantrums. Young children, in particular, may not know how to respond. Finding a personal outlet for your emotions will let you express yourself without upsetting your child.

4. Communicate With Your Child

Communicate openly with your child about why you have certain rules or specific consequences in place. Try to keep your explanations appropriate for their age—older children might ask for more nuanced explanations, while you may need to simplify things for younger kids. Ensure that your actions encourage good behavior, too. For example, it can help to give your child rewards for good behavior and positive changes. This can be highly motivating for kids!

5. Connect With A Therapist

Recognize that you do not have to go through this alone. Right now, you and your partner might feel like you’ve tried everything to improve your child’s behavior, but you’re not seeing any results. Or perhaps you’ve been parenting on your own, and trying to tackle these problems by yourself has left you exhausted.

Working with a therapist can help you navigate this rough patch with your child. They can suggest techniques that you may not have thought of on your own. You may want to seek therapy for yourself, for your child, or for your whole family unit, depending on your circumstances.

Are you struggling with parenting a difficult child? You can turn to a therapist for support. Contact us to learn more about parenting therapy.