It can be hard to know how to respond when a child “acts out.” Luckily there are effective ways that parents and caregivers can respond when a child is yelling, screaming, hitting, kicking, biting or breaking things.

For Help Right Away

If you have an immediate concern about your child’s behavior, these hotlines can offer help:

  • Family Tree 24-hour Parenting HelpLine
    Call 1-800-243-7337 for free and confidential support, advice and community resources in Maryland. Learn more about the Family Tree HelpLine.
  • Call 9-8-8
    If you have a concern about child mental health or substance use, call 9-8-8.
A distressed child holding her hands over her ears

If You Are Concerned About Your Child’s Behavior

If challenging behaviors are happening often, it’s risky to assume that your child will “grow out of it.” Acting early on concerns is the best way to help your child.

Most issues can be resolved with the right approach, but it is usually easier and more effective to do something sooner before a problem gets worse.

A good first step is to talk to your child’s healthcare provider, like their pediatrician or nurse practitioner. Write down your questions, concerns, and some examples; take these to the appointment. Tell the doctor or nurse at the beginning of the appointment that you have concerns about your child’s behavior and development. This sheet can help you prepare for the conversation.

Other Sources of Support

Navigating these behaviors can be difficult for the child and parent. Help is available.

  • Call 2-1-1
    If you need support, dial 2-1-1. We can help you figure out which program or resource is right for you.
  • Maryland Coalition of Families Peer Support
    The agency can help you navigate behavioral health concerns as a family through its family peer support program. They can help with IEPs and other resources needed to support the family and child.
  • Children's Mental Health Matters Family Resource Kit
    Download it in English or Spanish. You will find information on several topics, including eating disorders, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), anxiety, depression or other mental health concerns.


mother comforting child

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