How to manage behavior problems in young kids

ByGretchen Vierstra, MA

It’s not uncommon for young kids to lose control of their behavior. That doesn’t make it any easier to deal with it, though. Frequent outbursts can be overwhelming and upsetting — both for the adults around them and for kids themselves. 

Kids develop self-control over time, and some take longer than others. In the meantime, there are ways to teach and encourage self-control. 

  1. Manage your own emotions and behavior when kids act out. Staying calm helps you think about the best way to handle the situation. And it gives kids the chance to collect themselves so you can talk about what happened.
  2. Help kids learn from your example — both in the moment and over time. Talk about other situations where you’ve been frustrated or angry and what you did to stay calm and solve the problem. 
  3. Find out what’s causing the behavior. Kids act out for all kinds of reasons. Knowing why it’s happening lets you give them the support they need.

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About the author

About the author

Gretchen Vierstra, MA is the managing editor at Understood and co-host of the “In It” podcast. She’s a former educator with experience teaching and designing programs in schools, organizations, and online learning spaces.

Reviewed by

Reviewed by

Mark J. Griffin, PhD was the founding headmaster of Eagle Hill School, a school for children with specific learning disabilities.