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5 Very Common Problem Behaviors and What to Do to Help


In behavior therapy we see a lot of unusual behaviors, but we also see very common behaviors.
Five of the most common behaviors we see in the home or at school are throwing a meltdown tantrum, self-injury, attacking others, transition behaviors, and routine/play-based behaviors.
Here are 5 things you can do to help:

1. The child throws a tantrum at home or in public.

Tantrums can be very difficult to deal with, especially when they occur in public. It is important to remember that your reaction to the situation now will influence it in the future.

What can you do?

First and foremost, insure that the child is safe. Remove other people from the area (if possible) and any potential hazards. The idea here is to allow your child to wear him or herself out. The second step is for you to remain calm. This is much easier said than done. Reminding yourself that your anger and frustration serves no positive purpose in this situation may help. This includes maintaining your cool if your child chooses to name call or try to instigate an argument with you. Wait to talk to your child when you are both calm, and give consequences only for the behavior, not the emotion. (For example, say, it is okay to be angry, but it is not okay to throw things. You are not allowed to use the iPad because you threw your plate.)

2. The child hits/bites/injures him or herself.

Children engage in self-injurious behaviors for a variety of reasons. Some potential causes may include aversion to the current situation or circumstances, feelings of insecurity or guilt, or anger directed at self or others.

What can you do?

Fortunately, these kinds of behaviors usually stop in a relatively short time frame. This does not mean, however, that they should be ignored. One on one attention may help stop these issues. As soon as you see the child engaging in these behaviors, gently pull him or her into your lap and prevent him from hurting himself. Explain that you don’t want him to hurt himself because you love him. Even if the child is demonstrating signs of anger, you are effectively communicating that you care, which can often go a long way in combating these types of issues.

3. The child hits/bites/injures others.

Hitting and biting are often manifestations of an inability to communicate in small children and those with developmental disabilities. Other times, these actions serve a function of demonstrating anger or getting what the child wants. Regardless of the reason, such acts of aggression can be extremely frustrating for a parent.

What can you do?

In an ideal world, we could be able to prevent these behaviors before they occur. One way to do this is to set a good example. When your child is young, do not lightly bite their fingers, hands, or feet during play time. This sends a mixed message that can be confusing to the child. Additionally, being vigilant and aware of a situation can help to prevent acts of aggression. Watch as your child plays with other children. Is a dispute over a toy occurring? Is your child grumpy or tired? Being aware of your child’s tendencies and moods can help you prevent him or her from lashing out.  After the behavior has occurred, consistency is key. Say, “We do not bite. Biting hurts,” and remove the child from the situation is possible. Keep your voice low and calm. Remind your child that his playmates are his friends. Do not allow them to keep toys they have aggressively snatched from others. This sends a clear message that such acts are not an effective way to get what you want.

4. The child tantrums during transitions.

Transitions are difficult for a lot of kiddos. Maybe your child does not want to stop playing to go to the grocery store, or perhaps he does not want to leave gym for lunchtime.

What can you do?

The best way to deal with this issue is giving adequate warning of these transitions. Giving your child a five-minute warning is a good way to remind them that they will have to transition soon. Timers can also be extremely helpful, as they provide an auditory cue of the change. Visual timers are also really helpful, as they visually display the amount of time remaining.

5. The child struggles with routines during playtime with other children.

An obsession with sameness is a typical difficulty associated with autism spectrum disorders.  This can manifest in rituals like lining up toys, specific order of events, or scripting. Often, they have rigid ideas of how playtime should go and what scripts should be following. Deviation from these scripts and routines may result in a meltdown.

What can you do?

If you are able, communicating about this issue before it arises may be helpful in combating it. For example, if a play date is imminent, reminding your child that he does not get to control everyone during playtime may be all that is needed. Positive reinforcement, such as social praise or the use of a favorite toy or book, may also encourage increased tolerance of alterations to the child’s routines.
Kaylee Kapalko, Speech-Language Pathology Intern

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Crystal Scheibe

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My 9 year old just completed about 9 months of weekly speech sessions (due to his stuttering) with Matt Hagge at LLA and we are thrilled with the experience and results. What I thought might be a negative (what kid really wants to go to speech class?) was made very positive by Matt, and my son never hesitated or complained when we talked about class. He really enjoyed it and really took what Matt taught him to heart. His speech has been greatly improved and we definitely recommend LLA. Thank you so much!

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Terri Apgar

I cannot say enough good things about LLA Therapy. My daughter was a client of Teal Simmons’ for approximately 2 years and was just released from speech therapy! She was diagnosed with Apraxia in 2015 and worked with Teal twice a week. Through Teal’s application of PROMPT therapy, my daughter had age-appropriate speech after one year. All of the staff we interacted with at LLA were absolutely wonderful. They really care about what they do and making sure your child achieves their goals.

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LLA Therapy has been an excellent experience for my son as well as my family! My son always asks, "When can I go see Ms. Jeannine again, is it Monday??" He has also made huge gains in only 5 months! I would highly recommend LLA and have already shared my experience with friends looking for services!

Victoria Hansford-Price

We are so grateful for our Speech Therapist Ms.Teal. We have seen a great improvement with our sons confidence and communication abilities since we have started "Prompt" therapy. What we love the most about LLA and Ms. Teal is that Kohl feels comfortable and relaxed which has played a critical role in his progress. Thank you Ms. Teal for all you have done.

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They have helped in numerous ways. Speech, OT and behavioral. I've had numerous compliments on my son's progress thanks in very large part to LLA. I would recommend LLA before I recommend our local children's hospitals, though they are good, they don't have the staff that LLA does.

Amy Furukawa

We had a great experience with Matt Hagge at LLA! Our Middle School age son was becoming very conscious of his voice, which is nasal due to a cleft palate. Matt helped him to better form his sounds and project his voice in a way that makes the unavoidable nasality less noticeable.Our son is more confident and outgoing & even took on a speaking role in the church play. Matt has the perfect personality to relate with our son, and we would recommend him to anyone needing speech therapy services!

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LLA Therapy has been an excellent experience for our daughter. I would highly recommend LLA. Miss Grace was so amazing and I can't believe how quickly our daughter showed improvement. Thank you!
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