Are you struggling with your child’s behavior? You are not alone. Every child is different and managing some behaviors can be challenging. 

Behavioral Health Behaviors

When you have a concern, always talk to your child's pediatrician about the behavior. Some children act a certain way because they have a mental health disorder.

Here are some resources to 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.
  • 988
    Call 9-8-8 for immediate mental health or substance use concerns.
  • 988 behavioral health resource database, powered by 211
    Search for mental health providers.
  • 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.

Supporting your child

The author of The Explosive Child, Ross W. Greene, Ph.D., created the  Collaborative & Proactive Solutions (CPS) approach to parenting challenging behaviors. This approach focuses on identifying the skills a person lacks and the expectations they have difficulty meeting, resulting in extreme frustration for routine tasks.  

The focus is not on the behavior or the diagnosis. Dr. Greene shows parents how to look at the yelling, biting, screaming, kicking or property destruction differently. The clinician and pioneer in treating kids with social, emotional and behavioral challenges says these children require a different parenting approach.  

The focus is on the parent-child relationships to collaboratively solve the problem or unmet expectations proactively. It focuses on empathy, honesty, looking at things through a different lens, and appreciation.  

To understand challenging behavior, take The Walking Tour. It’s a series of videos that walk you through the concepts behind CPS so you can see your child’s tantrums, biting, yelling or other challenging behavior in a different light.  

Dr. Greene says “Kids do well if they can.” So, get started supporting your child so they can do well.  

A distressed child holding her hands over her ears
Woman teaching a student and student actively engaging in learning

Helping Children Manage Their Emotions

Everyone gets mad. As parents, you can help your child manage their emotions. Teach them conflict-resolution skills. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends telling children that when they get mad and don’t fight, they’ve won.  

APP teaches an ACT CALM method for mad children.  

When they’re mad, they can ACT: 

  1. Acknowledge 
  2. Calm down 
  3. Think and talk 

If someone tries to start a fight, they can act CALM: 

  1. Calm down  
  2. Avoid 
  3. Listen 
  4. Move on 

Remember, children emulate other behaviors. As the parent, you are their role model.  

Books can also help teach a child how to recognize, identify and manage their emotions. Maryland Families Engage recommends: 

  • What Are You Peeling? By Saxton Freymann 
  • The Way I Feel by Janan Cain 
  • When Sophie Gets Angry – Really Angry by Molly Bang 
  • Knuffle Bunny by Mo Williams 

If you need support, dial 2-1-1.

You can also learn about talking to your teen about their mental health or navigating a depression diagnosis.

Family support

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

Maryland Coalition of Families 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.

You can also call The Family Tree 24-hour Parenting HelpLine at 1-800-243-7337 for free and confidential support, advice and community resources. 

You can also explore other parenting support programs in Maryland and nationwide to help you strengthen your relationship with your child.

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