25 things that impact your child’s behavior (and have nothing to do with your parenting)

Slow down parents…before you look for the perfect consequence for your child’s behavior, check this list. There are lots of things that cause kids to act the way they do. And, a lot of these things have nothing to do with your parenting skills. Meeting these needs will help you manage their behavior. Win-win. 

25 things that impact your child's behavior (that have nothing to do with your parenting...phew!)

Years ago, I had the privilege of working with a family as their in-home family therapist.

My goal was to help an 8-year-old girl learn to manage aggressive behaviors, decrease verbal outbursts, and improve the relationship with her parents.

This was no easy task.

Everyone on the team worked hard to find solutions, but unfortunately, we made very little progress. Her parents were exhausted and began searching for anything…anything that would ease the tension in the home. (Maybe you can relate.)

One answer came from a very surprising source: an eye exam.

The results showed that the child’s eyes were not tracking together, which made reading difficult – if not impossible. So, long days in the classroom were filled with frustration as the child was falling farther and farther behind in reading.

Vision therapy was added to the list of interventions. As the child learned to read, some of the aggression faded away.

Sometimes, our child’s behavior is so baffling, we have absolutely no idea what’s going on. We try different parenting strategies, hoping that they will somehow make a difference, but we’re still stuck.

While it’s great to work on your parenting, it’s also good to take a look at other factors that may play a role in your child’s behavior.

25 things that impact your child’s behavior

Here is a list to get you thinking:

  1. Sleep
  2. Hunger
  3. Thirst
  4. Overstimulation
  5. Understimulation
  6. Big life changes (moving, starting a new school, death of a loved one, separation or divorce)
  7. Diet
  8. Allergies and food intolerances
  9. Learning challenges
  10. Processing speed
  11. Learning style
  12. Friendships
  13. Feeling unsafe
  14. Vision and hearing problems
  15. Medical conditions
  16. Mental health diagnoses
  17. Activity level
  18. Screentime
  19. Fears and worries
  20. Lack of routine, structure, or clear understanding of what comes next
  21. Difficulty reading social cues
  22. Insecurities and shame
  23. Difficulty expressing thoughts and feelings
  24. Temperament and personality type
  25. Developmental stage

Of course, this list is not exhaustive. It’s a place to start.

While many of these things are not directly linked to your parenting, you still have the opportunity to impact your child in a positive way.

Maybe you realize that a glass of water and a quick snack is more effective than a timeout. Or than an earlier bedtime and being mindful of loud, noisy environments actually does lead to fewer tantrums.

Or maybe you decide to seek help from a professional – teacher, doctor, nutritionist, occupational therapist, or mental health therapist.

Be observant. Be curious.

And, if you suspect something may be impacting your child’s behavior, be willing to make changes if necessary.

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Nicole Schwarz (couch 3)

Welcome! I'm Nicole Schwarz.

I'm a Parent Coach, Licensed Therapist and Author of It Starts with You. I help stressed, overwhelmed, confused parents find calm, confidence and connection with their kids. No one is expecting perfection here. But, if you’re willing to examine your parenting, find encouragement, or try something new, this is the place for you.

Comments have been turned off to retain the privacy of all families. If you have a question or comment on the topic, you're always welcome to contact me.